In Aotearoa/New Zealand, it is against the law to rape, sexually abuse, sexually assault or attempt to rape any male or female. As such, it is your right to report sexual violence to the Police. There is no statute of limitations in New Zealand – this means that you can report sexual violence to the Police at any time you choose, even years after it has happened.
If you choose to make a report some time after the rape/sexual abuse has occurred (e.g. months or even years afterwards), it can pay to ring the Police station beforehand and make an appointment to go and lay your complaint. This should mean that you receive the full attention of an officer when you go in.
It might be helpful to remember that if you report the assault later rather than sooner, the Police can have difficulty finding evidence (either physical or witness testimonies). If the Police do not have enough evidence to support your case in court, they may be unable to prosecute the offender. Sometimes this can feel like the Police do not believe you.
For this and other reasons, it can be important to have a support person from a sexual assault agency with you when you report the crime (both immediately after the assault or months/years later). At the Police station, a support person can:
- Make sure you have breaks
- Help you deal with any overwhelming emotions
- Find a safe place for you to be once you leave the station
- Organise contact with friends and family.
A support person can also give you ongoing telephone and/or face-to-face support after you have reported the crime. They are knowledgeable about the legal process, and can help you understand what is happening with your complaint.
If you are reporting an assault that happened some time ago, you can contact a support agency after you have arranged an appointment time with the Police. Your support person can then meet you at the Police station when you go to make your report.
If you are reporting an assault that happened recently, the Police should contact a sexual assault agency on your behalf. If they do not do this, you have the right to ask that one be contacted for you.
If you have any concerns about the physical effects of the rape or sexual abuse, it can be helpful to have a physical check-up/ medical examination, for your own peace of mind, even if the assult or abuse was some time ago. A medical can also be an important part of any police investigation. Please click here to find out more about medical examinations.