What will happen next?

"I'm NOT what happened to me."

Impact and treatment


The impact of what has happened will vary for each person depending on their own unique history and life experiences, and the nature, frequency and the time the sexual abuse occurred. There may need to be some repair of family relationships. Safety and trust have been compromised. You may need to reclaim a positive body image to develop healthy sexual experiences.


The type of impact may change over time with frequent exposure to triggers. These are things that remind you about what happened. Pace plays a significant role in the process. Wanting it to be over and 'fixed' by rushing into healing might be counterproductive.


As you recover from the abuse, the way you think about what happened, over time, may not always match the way your body physically responds to the memory. It can take some time for physiological (body) responses to match your progressing thought patterns. For example, you might remain hyper vigilant at times even while you're making progress in other areas of life.


In some circumstances, the initial effects may have evolved into severe mental health problems. This does not mean you cannot, with the right support, make progress and recover.


Medical care

Appropriate medical attention following sexual abuse or assault can gather evidence, treat injuries and provide prophylactic care for other consequences of the abuse. It is important that you get medical care from specialists who are trained to work specifically for people affected by sexual abuse.


While evidence is best gathered within 72 hours, it may still be available up to a week after the event. If you have any questions, in Auckland please call Puawaitahi.


HELP offers counselling services for women of any age affected by harmful sexual behaviour. HELP offers support, information and education. The service also provides family therapy and support.


There's also a 24 hour telephone service offering support for young people, their friends and family, and other people who need information about issues relating to sexual abuse.


The crisis team is available for immediate responses. They also offer crisis appointments for women needing to make decisions about safety or therapeutic support through police interviewing and medical procedures following sexual abuse.