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What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence includes rape, sexual abuse or sexual assault. This includes any kind of sexual touching or behaviour that you did not want to happen. Without your consent (click for YouTube video), any of the following sexual acts are illegal and are therefore sexual violence:

  • Vaginal sex (penis into vagina)
  • Anal sex (penis into anus/bum)
  • Oral sex (mouth on penis or vagina)
  • Digital sex (fingers into vagina or anus)
  • Object sex (object into vagina or anus)
  • Touching (grabbing, groping, or feeling)
  • Kissing (mouth or tongue)
  • Masturbation (making someone do it or doing it to someone else)
  • Porn (being made to watch it or be in it)

People over the age of 16 can have sexual contact together with consent. Consent is a free agreement made between two (or more!) people to do sexual stuff together. When people want to do sexual stuff together they must look for an enthusiastic YES!! It is important to pay attention to each other’s words, and also body language and tone of voice.

There are many times when a person is not able to consent to sexual stuff:

  • Under no circumstances can a child consent to sex (12 and under). This is known as child sexual abuse. It is always the responsibility of the adult to not harm, hurt or do sexual stuff with a child.
  • It is illegal to have sex under the age of 16.  This law is to protect young people from people who are older.
  •  If you are forced, threatened, blackmailed, pressured or coerced. (It does not have be physical, it can also be verbal, emotional, spiritual, or online).
  • If you are sleeping.
  • If you are unconscious.

Just because someone does not say no, does not mean they are consenting to sexual stuff. We should all be listening for an enthusiastic yes.

Consent is not a contract; it can be taken away at any time. If someone says stop or looks uncomfortable during sex you must stop. If you are unsure stop and check in with the person. Are they ok? Is there something they want to do differently?

Consent is also ongoing which means that just because someone consents to one sexual act such as oral sex, they haven’t consented to any other sexual act.

Is the abuser/offender always a stranger?

No. In most cases, rape, sexual abuse or assault is done by someone who is known to the victim. It could be someone you have just met, a neighbour, boss, partner, friend or family member.

Sexual orientation has nothing to do with sexual abuse.

If you were abused by someone of the same gender (for example a boy being sexually abused by another male) it does not mean that you are homosexual.

Your sexual orientation is your choice. Sexual orientation is not influenced or changed by sexual abuse. Additionally, it does not mean the abuser is gay. Sexual abuse is not about sexual desire, but power and control.

Your body may react in its own automatic way to sexual abuse.

People may experience an orgasm or erection during an experience of sexual abuse but this does not mean they enjoyed the abuse. Our bodies are designed to react to touch, sometimes regardless of whether we want that touch or not. For example, some people may find tickling uncomfortable or even painful, yet they still laugh when they are being tickled, even though they are not finding it enjoyable or funny.

How should I feel after being sexually abused or assaulted?

Experiencing sexual abuse can cause a wide range of feelings, and there is no right or wrong way to react.  Everybody reacts differently. Some people may show distress openly and others may hide their feelings and seem quite calm. Many different feelings can be felt:

  • shame, disgust and powerlessness;
  • numbness, disbelief, fear;
  • guilt, blaming oneself;
  • feeling alone and unable to tell anyone.

There may be no obvious physical scarring, or physical injury to your body. That does not mean there are no emotional signs or impacts because of what happened. There is no typical way to react to sexual abuse!

You may be worried about something that has happened to you and your virginity. You may find it reassuring to read about virginity and the hymen myth

You may have concerns about your physical and sexual health. There are specially trained doctors who can provide reassurance to you and a give you a full health check, including testing for STIs or pregnancy.

For more information, read our section on sexual abuse examinations.

Just The Facts:

  • Anyone can be a victim of sexual abuse, rape or sexual assault. . It can happen to children, women, and men, of all ages, of any sexuality, gender or ethnicity.
  • No one “asks” to be sexually abused or assaulted and no one who is sexually abused or assaulted is ever to blame for this happening.
  • Sexual abuse, rape or sexual assault always involves a misuse of power and is a crime.
  • Approximately 1 in 4 New Zealand women and 1 in 8 men have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 15.
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity – that is if you identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or a woman, man or anywhere in between  has nothing to do with sexual abuse.
  • Your body may react in its own way to sexual abuse.
  • Getting help as soon as possible actually does help you to start to recover from the effects of the abuse.

 

What help is available?

Telling someone you trust about your experience, whether it is a family member, a nurse or doctor, or a counsellor, is the first step towards getting the help you need and the path to recovery.

Counselling is available for all people who have been sexually assaulted, raped or sexually abused. Help is also available to their family and friends.

Help is also available for people who are concerned about their own sexual thoughts and behaviour.

If you, or some you know, has been sexually assaulted, raped or abused there is help available.

If you are in immediate danger call the police on 111.

You can call 111 from your cellphone even if you have no credit.

People can go to a sexual health clinic at whatever age and whether or not they have symptoms. If someone is under 16, the service is still confidential, this means that your parents or guardians will not be notified of your visit.

 

Find a sexual assault support centre near you:

Please note that most sexual assault agencies are posted in the Personal Emergencies section of the Telecom White Pages. In emergencies call 111.

Rape Prevention Education (RPE) website  hosts a list of agencies including Auckland agencies, followed by support services in the rest of Aotearoa New Zealand, in geographical order. www.rpe.org.nz

TOAH NNEST Te Ohaakii a Hine - National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together (TOAH NNEST) is a network of specialist sexual violence response and prevention services across New Zealand. www.toah-nnest.org.nz

Sex N Respect A website for youth about sexual violence and healthy relationships.

Women’s Refuge  website providing support and information which helps young people identify, escape and shelter from abuse, so you can be safe, love life and experience all the world has to offer – including real love.

Who Are You A website for people who are affected by sexual violence and where to get help.

Survivor A Christchurch based group providing support and information to male survivors of sexual abuse.

For medical help:

Find a local Sexual Abuse Assessment and Treatment Service

Find your local Sexual Health Clinic

Visit your Doctor or GP

 

Don’t go it alone. Do seek help. You deserve it.