What happened to Rachel Taane is sadly all too common a story in Aotearoa for approximately 1 in 4 young women and 1 in 9 young men who experience sexual abuse or assault.
Reflecting on where she is in her life now as a social worker, consent educator in schools, and public speaker, Rachel has turned the most horrific of circumstances into something immensely positive. Her aim is to prevent similar stories from happening to other rangatahi.
As part of her Do Something HELPful campaign, Rachel is creating simple and informative videos around consent and sharing them on her social media – with the aim to educate parents, young people and adults to better understand their bodies and their rights.
“Free support services should be accessible for all people, no matter what socio-economic background they have. We know from research that sexual harm impacts the person’s mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing, and that can result in the survivor being at higher risk of poverty, addiction, and other mental health disorders”, says Rachel.
When Rachel was 14 years old, she snuck out to a party and drank some hard liquor to fit in with the other teenagers. She says, “That night, I was raped by somebody that I knew. In the morning, I woke up outside in the park and I was naked…”
Rachel informed a friend’s parent who lived nearby, and was taken to the local police station to make a report and undergo forensics. She was interviewed by police before her mother arrived to support her through the process. Following the interview, Rachel was afraid to lay charges that could result in negative repercussions against the perpetrator, who was a promising rugby player.
Once Rachel retracted her allegations, she returned to school where she was beaten by her peers. To protect her daughter, her mother shifted towns with her to escape further retributions, but the story followed. Rachel ended up dropping out of school and engaged in anti-social behaviour. She then resorted to using methamphetamines and committing burglaries to help support her habit.
“There was so much sexual violence during my addiction. I was gang raped by three people over a two-day period… abuse became so normalised to me.”
HELP Auckland has served over 50,000 survivors, as well as their friends and family with free and confidential crisis support, counselling, psychotherapy and advocacy. There is a major gap in funding for these essential services, so Ambassadors like Rachel Taane are sharing their story to Do Something HELPful for other survivors.
Sign up to Do Something HELPful here: dosomethinghelpful.org.nz
Donate to Rachel Taane’s Do Something HELPful page here: dosomethinghelpful.org.nz/racheltaane
Watch our interview with Rachel Taane here: https://youtu.be/Q8t9PB9ZhR4