For most of us, this time of year means holidays and celebrations, but here at HELP we find that our services are needed more than ever. Over the Christmas and New Year period, there are many get-togethers & social events. I’d like to tell you about Emma, a 14 year old girl whose experience at an end-of-year party meant she desperately needed our help.
Emma was staying at a friend’s house when they decided to crash an end-of-year party for one of the school sports teams. She wanted to fit in, so she drank whatever alcohol she was offered. As a first-time drinker, Emma had no idea of the effects that the alcohol would have.
She went outside when she felt sick, and then woke some time later with a guy on top of her, sexually assaulting her. Emma struggled to make sense of what was happening as she’d liked this guy and here he was forcing himself into her. She managed to get out from under him and wake her friend and get back to her friend’s place.
But the nightmare didn’t stop there. It had only just started. Thoughts about what had happened flooded her mind over the next week. She felt dirty and ashamed, and blamed herself completely. She didn’t want to tell anyone, thinking everyone would blame her. She wouldn’t tell her parents as she felt that she had let them down so badly, and didn’t want to see the hurt in their eyes.
Emma withdrew from her other friends and family activities and, feeling mostly numb inside, she thought seriously about taking her own life. Luckily, the friend she’d been with that night knew HELP from the services they provided for survivors of sexual violence in her school. She took Emma to see HELP’s youth counsellor, and things started to turn around from there.
We were able to help Emma to understand the “crazy” thoughts and feelings she was having, and supported her in figuring out what she wanted to do about the guy who hurt her. We supported her as she told her parents, and worked separately with them to help them deal with their own responses, and know how to support Emma. She needed to see the love in their eyes, and with our help, this is what she got.
Teenage girls can have a really difficult time of it these days – the impacts of pornography and the premature sexualisation of girls mean that girls are often being coerced into sexual experiences they don’t want, or outright raped as Emma was. Teen boys are also at risk.
Providing counselling is not the only way that we’re assisting teen girls. Our web and social media project ‘Dear Em’ provides girls with all sorts of information about how to manage difficult times in life – including sexual violence.
We really can’t support the many teen girls like Emma without your help. Please help us to keep supporting survivors of sexual violence throughout summer by donating at www.helpauckland.org.nz/donate .
For more information please contact HELP’s Fundraiser on 09 6231700. Thank you.