James’ Story: I had no idea HELP was going to pull me off the floor, at least a dozen times

James* is a survivor of sexual abuse who found himself lost navigating a justice system that he and his family didn’t understand. Reflecting on the long battle to take his abuser to court, he recalls, “I’ve had one speeding ticket in my life, right? My family is the same. It’s a world that we just don’t know… But HELP was incredible. I had no idea that my Court Support Advocate was going to pull me off the floor, at least a dozen times.”

Four decades on from the sexual abuse that weighed so heavily on his life, James emphasises the pivotal role HELP played in his journey to healing by offering support that was both practical and deeply human.

“When I say ‘pull me off the floor’, I don’t mean like… ‘It’s going to be okay, here’s a glass of water’. I mean somebody that’s actually going through it with you, who understands and has the context of how other cases have gone, and answers some of the questions that nobody else can.”

When the strain of the legal process became overwhelming, HELP provided emotional support to James’ family too. “A family gets thrust into a world that we just don’t know… We’d had four goes at trying to get to trial over five years. In the last round, which just finished in December, my wife had reached the end of her tether. She was in pain because of the pain I was in… It was getting to the point where she wanted to pull the pin on the whole thing. I found myself initially trying to support my wife, but then HELP really stepped in and helped to bring the family dynamics together.”

James acknowledges that without HELP, he doesn’t believe he would have made it through the court process. The wrap-around care provided by his Court Support Advocate was invaluable, helping him to focus on what truly mattered.

“HELP is absolutely 100% necessary. Without it, I don’t think I would have made it through that December period… I could give you so many examples of how much value HELP had. They pre-armed me for trial by letting me know about what could possibly happen. That’s gold, especially in a world where you have no idea.”

“They do the important bit, which is not only to give you some confidence to get there, but while you’re there help you stay there. The process is hard enough… HELP supported me in removing all the noise, and I felt like I was actually in a world where I was safe.”

James’ Court Support Advocate gave 110% to help him before, during and after the trial. It’s an experience that he likens to having a superhero by his side. “For me, the term ‘support person’ isn’t accurate, but it’s more like… ‘Which superhero would you like to work with, who is literally going to help you fly to the moon and back?’”

James drives home to us that HELP is not just a service; it’s a necessity for survivors: “I cannot see how you could get through [the trial process] without HELP… For me, not having HELP would be like, we don’t really have a true justice system.”

During James’ long journey to healing, HELP’s ability to walk alongside him was crucial. “The people side of it, the humanity side of it, without HELP there is no other service… It’s a human story, and what HELP does is completely and utterly human at the messiest time.”

“HELP is what humans need to get through the process.”

To donate to HELP Auckland in support of survivors like James, please visit: https://help-them-heal-giving-day.raisely.com/

*Alias used to protect client privacy