Many people never tell the police about sexual assaults, but sexual abuse and rape are crimes so you have the right to make a complaint to the Police. HELP can you support you through this.
For some, making this complaint can be a really important part of healing from what happened, and of feeling safe again. There are specially trained Police officers who investigate these crimes so they have experience working with people who have been through these traumatic events. You can also request to speak to a female officer if you want to.
What happens when I contact the Police?
If you decide to do this, you can either call or go into your local Police station. If it is an emergency situation where you feel in immediate danger, or you have injuries that need immediate attention, call 111.
Initially the Police will want a brief account of what happened to you. They may suggest a forensic medical and help you to access this. They may also want to collect some evidence from where it happened.
Soon after, often the next day, you will be asked to do a formal interview. If you are under 17, this is likely to be with specialist interviewers at Puawaitahi. If you are 17 or over, this is likely to be with a Detective at a police station, with a specialist HELP counsellor there to assist you.
Following the interview the Police will start their investigation. The Police should explain the process and keep you informed about what is happening. If you feel that they don’t keep you informed, talk to them or tell us and we can talk to them on your behalf.
Speaking to the Police does not automatically mean that the offender will end up in court. Sexual abuse or assault are hard crimes to prove because often there are no other witnesses and the person who did it can just say something different to your story. Even if the Police believe that you are telling the truth, if there isn’t enough evidence to back up what you say, then the case won’t go forward. If there is a court case, HELP can provide a range of support and helpful information during this process through its Justice Services.
What if I change my mind?
If you initially talk to Police but change your mind soon after, you can withdraw your complaint. However, the longer the Police have been investigating and the closer to the Court process it is, the harder this will be. The Police may choose to go ahead with the case, even after you withdraw, if they think that there are significant risks to other people if the perpetrator is not held accountable.
You are able to make a complaint to the Police at any time after experiencing sexual abuse or rape so it is OK to speak to them later, even if you initially decided that you didn’t want to make a complaint. People have reported to the Police weeks, months, years or even decades after the incident happened. However, the sooner a complaint is made the more likely it is to be effective as evidence is harder to gather after time has passed.