Good question!!! One of the best things you can do for your friend is to find out some information... so you're in the right place. What is it you want to know? Do you have some questions, squiz through the following list to see if these questions are helpful. If there is a question you have that is not listed, look through the website to see if the information is here, otherwise, use the email for a personal response.
Check out Safety
Do you think your friend is safe from this person and safe from this happening again?
To work this out, it helps to know when/where the abuse happens. Does it happen while your friend is at home? Are there other people around at the time or is it only when they're alone? Does it happen at night when they're in bed? If you think your friend is still at risk of this happening again keep reading for some ideas on what to do...
Yes my friend is safe
Give your friend support, ask your friend how you can help them, maybe you can stay with them if that's what they want, maybe you could set up and appointment with a counsellor if they need to talk, if you are free you could go with them so they feel o.k.
No my friend is not safe!
Then it gets a little more tricky. The main aim is toget your friend to a safe place away from this happening again. Is there a trusted adult you could tell? A teacher, school counsellor, aunty, uncle, mum, dad, older brother or sister or one of the agencies listed. Keep telling until someone listens to you and does something to help. It can sometimes take a few tellings before adults listen properly... keep trying. If this is happening on a regular basis think about calling Child, Youth and Family if your friend is 16 or under, or calling the police. Look under these sections so you know what might happen. It's really important that your friend is away from where the offender knows she will be. Maybe she/he could go stay with extended family, a friend's family, or other. If you talk to one of the agencies/counsellors listed they may be able to help you find a solution that fits with your problem. If possible keep away from the offender until a permaent solution is found. It's really important for your friend to get help because sexual abuse can totally mess you up, now and in your future too.
Does your friend have an adult they trust enough to talk to?
Maybe there is a close family member or teacher or anyone who's an adult that you could possibly talk to. There will be someone! Even if it's someone you don't know yet. Trusted adults can provide transport, words of wisdom, safety, a place to stay and lots of support. The more people to help and support you the better.
Check out the suggestions page for ways in how to respond, pass this on to the people you tell so they also know what is o.k and not o.k. Not all adults will know what to do, but they may have more ideas to offer.
Support for you and your friend
Are you o.k? Finding it hard to deal with?
This may be hard for you to deal with too. If you're a boyfriend or girlfriend you may not know how to be around them. There are some hints on the support page for you. If you're a supporter you can talk to someone too, if you're having a hard time. Many of the places listed under services provide information and help for supporters too! You don't have to mention your friends' names of anything, just tlak over what it is you're having difficulty with. You may even want to get another friend or adult involved so that you don't feel like you're the only one trying to help. Ask your friend who it is o.k or not o.k to talk to.
Does your friend seem to be acting differently than before?
What does your friend want to do? Do they know?
Remember you're doing this to help your friend, so ask them what they want. If they say they don't want you to do anything but you find it hard to do that, read through this site to see if anything in here will be useful. Pass on things that you learn to your friend, it may help them make decisions about what to do. Also know that ringing agencies without telling them who you are can make things easier, find out what you want to know, then you can decide yourselves what to do.
What are your options? Who can you talk to about them? Where do you find these people?
Questions about the offender
Does your friend know the offender? (person who may have sexually abused your friend)
YesFirst thing is to find out if your friend is safe from this happening again, check out (question 9) to work this out.
Secondly, knowing the offender can make it difficult for your friend to tell others. She may want to just forget about what happened for fear that if she/he tells the offender may go to jail. She/he may also want to blame themselves for what happened. It's important to never blame themselves for what happened. It's important to never blame someone who is sexually abused, it is never their fault.
NoYour friend may become very weary of all people around her/him. They may be scared to go out alone, even to the dairy. It's important that you let her/him take their time, and support tem as much as you can over this hard time.
Is the offender someone you know?
If you do it may cause a bit of conflict, maybe you're wondering who's right and who's wrong... in some cases both may think they're right? You know how two people can see the same thing but may describe it differently, well it's sorta like that. The main thing to know is that if someone does not get consent, permission, a "yes, I want to have sex with you", from the other person, then it may be an unwanted sexual experience and may have huge effects for that person, and their relationships with others. If you do know the offender and as a result you're finding it hard to support the survivor, it might be best to let someone else do the supporting. Maybe another friend or adult...
Does the offender say nothing happened?
This may happen, sometimes
say in dating situations the offender may not want to say they forced
their date to have sex, because they know this is against the law and
they may go to jail.
Information you may need
What is rape / sexual abuse / sexual assault / unwanted sexual experience?
Who does this happen to?
Does your friend have to tell what happened to anyone else?
Your friend does not need to tell anyone they don't want to. Lots of young people have said that they find talking helpful, so if your friend can find someone they trust and can talk to, they may find it really helpful.
Do you or/and your friend know about confidentiality (no one else gets to know what's been said) and privacy?
If an agency says that it will keep your information confidential, this means that no one else will be able to know what you said. Sometimes people get put off if they think that other people will know what they've said, a way to find out if your information will stay confidential is to call agencies anonymously (don't tell them your name or phone number) to check out whether you think they can help you or not. This includes the Police, CYF, in most agencies what gets said between you and the counsellor stays between you. There are times when confidentiality may not apply. These are when someone's safety is at risk. Most times if counsellors want to break confidence to keep someone safe they will let you know, but do ask and make sure this is so before you start talking to them.
What about STI's, pregnancy and general physical health?
It's important that your friend makes sure they are physiclly o.k after the abuse. There are places you can go that are confidential and are supportive. There are doctors who specialise in working with people who have been sexally abused, they are called DSAC (Doctor's for sexual abuse care), there is also Family Planning, the Auckland Sexual Health Clinic and for areas outside Auckland check out your local phone book or ring your local sexual assault agency.
What about different cultural beliefs?
There are some cultures
that hold different ideas about what sexual abuse is.
If you would like more information about the law and how it protects you check out the Youthlaw website or give them a call on ph (09) 309 6967, they will be able to answer any legal questions more fully.
Are you thinking about calling the police? What will the Police do?
Make sure you let your friend know, so they are prepared and you can discuss things together, again you can talk this over with ASAH, they have people that can support you at the police station.
If your friend decides they want to tell what happened to the police, the police will first off, ask you a few questions about the incident and then discuss your options with you.
What about court?
Not all cases go to court, this is up to the police to decide. After you make a complaint to the police, it is no longer up to you to decide if it goes to court. The police make the decision based on whether they think they can get enough evidence to convict (put away) the offender. You become a witness in their case. Youthlaw is an excellent place to let you know your rights and they have booklets available for free that walk you through the court process. Ring them and ask, or check out their website
What is counselling/therapy? What happens?
Counselling an therapy
pretty much mean the same thing. This means that you can talk with someone
about the problems you are facing. They listen and help you to find ways
to deal with these problems so that you have control over them and not
them over you.
Who pays for counselling or going to an agency?
Most agencies will not
charge young people if they come without their families' knowledge. It's
important though to check this out with whoever you see.
Will your friend feel like crap forever?
A possible action plan
Here is a possible action plan that you might follow.
Ask a question via email