Counselling for sexual abuse survivors sexual violation support
Every person who has been sexually abused or raped recovers in their own time and in their own way.
Counselling is a process which enables you to make sense of the different emotions, thoughts and feelings you may be experiencing, and put in to place strategies to deal with them. Counsellors can often help you deal with many of the effects of sexual violence that people experience (like flashbacks, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression etc).
You may already have some idea about what counselling is. This may be informed by personal experience, TV, movies, or friends and family. It’s important to realise that not all counselling is the same, and to discuss with any counsellor you may see how they work.
It’s essential that you feel safe with your counsellor, because this is the person who you may tell close, intimate information. Sometimes you may feel uncomfortable about some things you say. Remember, a counsellor is not there to judge you – he/she is there to offer a safe environment in which you can discover/recover healthy ways of being.
It can be a good idea to contact several different counsellors and ask them questions about their practise before you make an appointment with any one counsellor. You can ask them things like:
- what will happen in your sessions with them (e.g. will you talk, use drama or music etc)
- what experience he/she has in working with survivors of sexual violence
- how long they see their clients for
- how much they charge
- how long their waiting list is
You have the right to choose a counsellor that you think will best meet your needs. If you visit a counsellor and then decide you don’t want to continue seeing them, you have the right to let them know and find another counsellor that suits you better.
In New Zealand, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) helps pay for counselling for many survivors of sexual assault. The process of submitting a claim to have ACC provide subsidised counselling changes regularly. For up to date information contact ACC visit www.acc.co.nz or call their sensitive claims department on 0800 735 566. Usually you do not have to apply to ACC yourself – your counsellor or GP can fill out the forms for you during your first few counselling sessions.
Even when ACC pays for most of your counselling costs there may be a surcharge that you have to pay. Some counsellors will charge a small amount to the client above the ACC subsidy. These additional charges are rarely large, and many counsellors have a sliding scale of charges, where you pay less if you are on a low income.
If you would like to find a counsellor who is experienced in working with survivors of sexual assault, contact your nearest sexual assault agency.
From time to time, various agencies throughout New Zealand hold support or therapy groups for survivors of sexual assault and their whanau/family. There are support groups available for all kinds of people.
For more information about support groups in your area, contact your nearest sexual assault agency.