Sexual Violence


Sexual violence is anything sexual without consent. This includes all different types of sex (vaginal, oral, anal, object and digital), sexual kissing and touching, sending sexual messages or images, and forcing someone to watch a sexual act.

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sexual violence


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In New Zealand it is illegal to do sexual stuff with a person without their consent. This is defined in Section 128 of the Crimes Act 1961 as Sexual Violation. Sexual Violation is defined as any type of penetrative sex. This could include vaginal, anal, oral, digital (fingers and hands) and object sex. This carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. For more specifics on sexual violation, visit the relevant section of the Crimes Act here.


Indecent Assault covers all other sexual stuff that may not include penetration such as unwanted sexual touching or flashing. Indecent Assault is defined as “the doing on the person of an indecent act that, without the person’s consent, would be an indecent assault of the person”. This carries a maximum sentence of seven years. For more specifics on indecent assault, visit the relevant section of the Crimes Act here.


The making of an intimate video recording is recognised as illegal under Section 216G of the Crimes Act 1961. The recording does not need to have been shared publicly to have violated the law. The maximum sentence for this is three years. For more specifics on the making of an intimate visual recording, visit the relevant section of the Crimes Act here.


The Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 makes it illegal for a person to electronically share sexual photographs, videos, rumours or information about another person without their consent. For more specifics on the Harmful Digital Communications Act, click here. 


New Zealand Law also recognises other specific sexual acts that are illegal. For more information on these, take a look at “Sexual crimes” and “Sexual offences outside New Zealand” under Part 7 of the Crimes Act here.

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Survivors of sexual violence can find it incredibly hard to tell anyone about their experience. However, we know that talking is the most beneficial path to recovery. It is not uncommon for survivors to wait for 3-18 years before telling anyone, and that 76% of the time survivors will choose to tell a friend or family member first. McGregor, K., Jülich, S., Glover, M., & Gautam, J. (2010). Health professionals' responses to disclosure of child sexual abuse history: Female child sexual abuse survivors' experiences. Journal of child sexual abuse, 19(3), 239-254.


If somebody chooses to disclose sexual violence to you, the most important thing that we can do is to believe them without question. Give them control of how much they tell you, listen without judgement and offer to support them in any way they need. If you think there are any safety concerns, discuss with them who they feel comfortable involving to restore safety (e.g. the police).

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We know that with the right support, survivors of sexual violence can go on to have fulfilling lives and positive sexual experiences. Everyone’s healing journey will be different—check out our page on healing here.

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