Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Sex abusers miss out on aid, MPs told

Services described as inadequate, disjointed.

Many adult sex offenders have no options for rehabilitation, sexual violence services say, because there is no funding for treatment of people who are not charged with a crime.

Victims, doctors, counsellors and officials told a parliamentary select committee yesterday that state funding for sexual violence social services was inadequate, disjointed, and failed to meet needs of Maori, rural or transgender victims and their families.

The inquiry into funding of sexual violence services was prompted last year by Green MP Jan Logie after a major rape crisis helpline had to cut its hours because of funding issues.

MPs were told yesterday that funding loopholes or shortfalls meant specialist services were not available for children who sexually abused peers or for adult abusers who were not in the criminal justice system.

People charged with rape or sexual violence were referred by the Department of Corrections for treatment.

But Harmful Sexual Behaviour Sector chief executive Lesley Ayland said most victims were abused by someone they knew, and many of them did not want to press charges because they were reluctant to go through the court system.

But most providers were funded only for referrals from Corrections, or for cases involving young people.

Ms Ayland said her organisation's contracts with government agencies specified that it could not see any perpetrator who had a victim older than 17.

"That means we have no services anywhere in this country for adults who have sexually assaulted adults ... and have not been charged."

Providers said that if services were available, abusers often came forward voluntarily.

Children who committed sexual abuse at schools also fell through a loophole. Unless they were a threat to their siblings or parents, Child Youth and Family did not refer them or their victims for treatment.

Equal Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue told the committee that gaps in the current system meant that some victims were not able to recover from the trauma of rape or sexual abuse.

"Sexual abuse can cause pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, incontinence and other problems ... A person with similar injuries from a jetski was able to get physiotherapy access for services," she said. "But the person who had sexual abuse [which] resulted in those injuries was unable to. It just seems bizarre."

- NZ Herald

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