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Sexual violence services cuts a terrible mistake

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Louise Nicholas: Government making terrible mistake over sexual violence services cuts

National Survivor Advocate Louise Nicholas says the government is making a terrible mistake by forcing cuts to sexual violence services in Auckland. HELP, Auckland’s sexual abuse crisis and counselling service, has announced that it has no option but to begin cuts to services and redundancies as a result of government funding decisions.

She said there is a risk that, to save money, this work would be taken over by people who do not have the necessary skills to understand and support victims of sexual violence. Having the wrong help can be devastating for victims of rape and sexual abuse, she said.

Louise Nicholas said that although people may mean well, the wrong help can cause added trauma, mental health problems and discourage people from participating in the medical and police procedures that are required to bring an assailant to court.

She said that it is not only the victims of rape who require support. Partners, families and friends also struggle to come to terms with the harm caused by sexual violence and often require help – not just during office hours but often in the middle of the night.

This government made a commitment to the people that they would improve and support front line services. HELP provides a critical frontline service to victims of rape and sexual assault. Without this specialised service, many more victims will find it difficult to ever recover from their experiences, she said.

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