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HealthInfo West Coast-Te Tai Poutini

Sexual harm of teens & young adults

For advice and support, contact Safe to talk. This is a free national 24-hour seven day a week confidential service for anyone looking for help to do with sexual harm. You can get help by phone 0800-044-334, text 4334, or via the website.

Sexual harm is when someone:

If you've been sexually harmed it's important to know there are people who want to help you and you don't have to go through this alone.

You may have many different feelings, or maybe you feel numb. Everyone is different, so people will react differently. Just remember there are people who can help.

Getting help for sexual harm

sexual assaultIf you've been sexually harmed, the first thing to do is go somewhere you feel safe, such as the home of a close friend or family member.

If you feel able to, tell someone you trust what has happened. Don't feel ashamed or to blame for what has happened to you – it isn't your fault.

You don't have to decide straight away whether you want to make a formal complaint to the Police. It's OK to take the time you need to decide this.

Whether or not you go to the Police or tell anyone else, it's best to go to a doctor as soon as possible if the sexual harm has included rape. If you live in Canterbury or on the West Coast, you can see the doctors and nurses at the Cambridge Clinic. They specialise in looking after people over 12 who've been sexually assaulted. You can see them straight after an assault, or years afterwards if it happened some time ago. Or you can go to your own doctor, or the hospital.

If the assault has just happened, it's best not to wash before going to the doctor, so you can talk about your options. Even if you're not sure about going to the Police, a Cambridge Clinic doctor may still be able to take samples, just in case you change your mind later.

Just like talking to your own GP, talking to a specialist doctor at the Cambridge Clinic is all confidential. It can also be very important for evidence if you later decide to go to the Police. If you're under 16, they'll advise you to see a GP, the Police, or Oranga Tamariki—Ministry for Children first.

You can also call the Police. It's OK to contact them just to ask for advice and to find out what your options are, you don't have to make a formal complaint. The Police can also help you and put you in touch with people who can help.

Supporting a friend

Sometimes people confide in their friends about being sexually harmed before they tell anyone else. BodySafe has info about how you can support your friend and help them be safe.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Support for sexual harm

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed September 2019.


See also:


Emotional & physical abuse

Relationships in teens & young adults

Page reference: 223060

Review key: HISAY-223060