Today is the start of Rape Awareness Week. Shockingly, only about 10 per cent of sexual violence or abuse incidents are ever reported. The Herald shines a light on the issue in a bid to educate, and reduce the stigma around rape and other sex crimes.

How do you report a sexual assault?

What will happen to you at the police station?

Who will you speak to and what will you have to tell them?

What happens after that?

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Will anyone believe you?

These are just some of the questions police have tried to answer in a series of videos they have produced around sexual violence that have been launched today.

The videos will be published widely on police social media channels during Rape Awareness Week in a bid to explain the process victims will go through when they report sexual assaults or abuse.

The videos cover how to report, the first police interview, emotional support for victims, medical check ups, formal interviews, why people don't report, consent and general facts around sexual violence.

In the Past decade police have been working to change, among other things, how they investigate sexual assault complaints and deal with victims after a scathing Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct.

The changes came after one of the biggest scandals to ever rock the police, the Louise Nicholas case.

Nicholas went public in 2004 with claims she was raped by police officers in the 1980s and the investigation was mishandled.

"Police are more focused on victims now rather than the outcome," Detective Senior Sergeant Anthony Tebbutt told the Herald.

"Previously we were more outcome-minded, than putting the victims at the heart of everything we do but now it's about us making sure we treat victims with respect, empathy and kindness."

Tebbutt, who features in one of the videos, said sexual violence was a crime that "can happen to anybody".

"Rape Awareness Week is about dispelling some of the myths about sexual assaults. It's about reminding victims that they are not to blame; they don't need to be afraid to come forward," he said.

"They've done nothing wrong. They are not to blame."

"Police are more focused on victims now," Detective Senior Sergeant Anthony Tebbutt tells the Herald. Photo/NZ Police

Tebbutt said there was a range of reasons victims did not report sex crimes.

"Maybe the victims blame themselves, maybe they feel shame, maybe there is fear of their friends or family finding out," he said.

"Maybe they don't know the process of reporting and what happens after that, or maybe they are just scared in general.

"But we've got dedicated, specially trained officers who deal in this area and victims will always be treated with respect, professionalism and dignity."

Tebbutt said these days, there is a lot more training for police on how to deal with victims, especially when it came to sexual violence.

From Police College onwards the training is ongoing.

"Given our history of the Commission of Inquiry ... it's all about the victim's health and safety," Tebbutt said.

He conceded that disclosing a sexual attack to police, strangers with lots of questions, is likely a terrifying thought.

After that, the court process was daunting.

"But we do everything we can to see our victims through that," he said.

"I guess, we're always trying to do the absolute best by our victims ... sometimes just coming forward, being heard and being believed is a huge thing."

The problem is serious. In the year from January 2016 to this January, 5865 people were the victim of sexual violence or abuse in New Zealand. Most of the victims were women aged 15-19. Photo/123RF
The problem is serious. In the year from January 2016 to this January, 5865 people were the victim of sexual violence or abuse in New Zealand. Most of the victims were women aged 15-19. Photo/123RF

Tebbutt said even if cases did not get to court, usually due to a lack of physical evidence, police still wanted to do the best for the victim.

"All of our staff are trying to do the best by our victims. We want the best outcome for them. That's what these people come to work for every day," he said.

"We just want people to report these things to us, come to us and we will do our best to help you."

Tebbutt said people didn't need to start with police, there were plenty of other support agencies a victim could turn to if she or he wanted to disclose.

"I'd encourage people to come forward, if not to the police, to a support agency. They can talk you through the process if you're not ready to talk to the police," he said.

"They can give advice, organise counselling and help you get to the point where you are ready to come to us."

Reporting sexual assault to police - the videos

Police have released these videos to help victims, and the public, understand the process of reporting sexual assault.

The videos have all been published on YouTube and will be promoted on police social media channels.

To view each video, click the links below.

STEP ONE: how to report
Senior Sergeant Tania Van Ooyen offers reassurance, advice and outlines what happens when a sexual assault is reported.

The Reporting Sexual Assault To Police series takes you through the process of reporting a sexual assault for adults 18 years and over. Source: New Zealand Police

STEP TWO: first interview
Detective Senior Sergeant Anthony Tebbutt outlines what happens at the first interview when a sexual assault is reported.

The Reporting Sexual Assault To Police series takes you through the process of reporting a sexual assault for adults 18 years and over. Source: New Zealand Police

STEP THREE: emotional support
Irene Livingston from the Hutt Rape Counselling Network outlines what emotional support is available for victims of sexual assault.

The Reporting Sexual Assault To Police series takes you through the process of reporting a sexual assault for adults 18 years and over. Source: New Zealand Police

STEP FOUR: medical check up
Dr Cathy Stephenson from Doctors For Sexual Abuse Care outlines what happens at the medical check-up.

The Reporting Sexual Assault To Police series takes you through the process of reporting a sexual assault for adults 18 years and over. Source: New Zealand Police

STEP FIVE: formal interview
Detective Nicole Bourke outlines what happens at the formal interview.

The Reporting Sexual Assault To Police series takes you through the process of reporting a sexual assault for adults 18 years and over. Source: New Zealand Police

Why don't people report sexual assaults?
Only around one in 10 sexual assaults are reported to police. In this video some university students share their views on why that is.

What is sexual consent?
University students share their views on sexual consent: What it is, how to ask for it and how to know when you've got it.

• Quick Facts: sexual consent
Dr Cathy Stephenson from Doctors For Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC) outlines some quick facts on sexual consent.

• Quick Facts: Sexual violence
Dr Cathy Stephenson from Doctors For Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC) outlines some of the myths that surround sexual violence and how they influence our understanding of it.

If you're in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours or friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay.

Where to go for help or more information:

NZ Police
The Harbour, for those affected by harmful sexual behaviour
Help Auckland 24/7 helpline 09 623 1700
Rape Prevention Education
Wellington Help 24/7 crisisline 04 801 6655, push 0
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz