Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Louise Nicholas makes emotional plea over rape victim support

Louise Nicholas. File photo / Brett Phibbs
Louise Nicholas. File photo / Brett Phibbs

Louise Nicholas, who alleged that police officers raped her while she was a teenager, has made an emotional plea to MPs to overhaul rape crisis services in New Zealand.

Ms Nicholas appeared this morning before a select committee which is reviewing the funding of specialist sexual violence services.

She told the committee that she was raped by police officers from age 13 to 18, and she "absolutely blamed herself".

"If I hadn't been sick and gone to work, they wouldn't have come around to my flat and raped me. If I didn't get in that car, I wouldn't have a police baton used on me.

"I knew I needed help, but when I started to look for someone to talk to, I didn't know where to go, I didn't know what to do.

"That was 30 years ago. What has changed? Nothing."

Read more:
Sexual-violence inquiry reveals gaps in services and funding shortfall
Just 12pc of reported rapes lead to conviction - study

Ms Nicholas' claims of being raped by several policemen in the 1980s were revealed in 2004 and resulted in criminal trials, a Commission of Inquiry and one officer being jailed for attempting to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice.

She said that even when her story was made public, she did not receive specialist support.

"I was offered support from the police through Victim Support. But as nice as she was, all I wanted to do was rip her face off. And as awful as that sounds, it was because she had no idea how to support me.

"All she did was take me back to those bad times by telling me she was so sorry.

"You may ask 'Well, what's wrong with that?'. What she said... was the last thing those men would say to me after I was raped - 'I'm sorry, Lou'.

"That's the difference between specialist support services and those that are not specially trained."

Ms Nicholas became tearful when speaking of her family's difficulty in comprehending and responding to her alleged abuse. At the time, were no expert services in her hometown Rotorua or in the Bay of Plenty.

"But I know there are hundreds of survivors in those areas. Who's there for them?"

Ms Nicholas, who now works as a campaigner for victims, said the biggest gaps in treating sexual violence were the absence of specialised services in smaller town centres and rural areas, and the long waiting lists for treatment.

She told a story about a victim she knew, who had been abused a child, and later confronted her abuser. When the person told her to "get over herself", she stabbed him.

"And now she sits in a prison cell along with hundreds of other women and men who have been sexually harmed and who had nowhere to go, who had no one to talk to either.

"Yes, they took the law into their own hands and must now face the consequences. But would they have ended up in there if they had specialist services available to them when they needed it?"

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 26 Jul 2014 14:05:18 Processing Time: 755ms