Assault covers situations when a person intentionally applies physical force to move or harm another person’s body. You are not to blame for this crime, the perpetrator is. No one has the right to hurt you.
Assault can include indirect force, such as throwing something at another person. It also includes threatening to harm someone in a convincing and intimidating way, even though the other person hasn’t been touched.
As well as common assault, there are a range of more violent behaviour assault offences, such as aggravated assault or injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Factors that raise an assault crime to a more serious level include the use of a weapon, the perpetrator having criminal intent, and significant injury being caused.
An assault can happen anywhere, to anyone – in public places, at home, or at work. The person doing the assault might be a complete stranger or someone you know. This crime can affect people of all ages, genders, sexual orientation, cultures, religions, and backgrounds.
Assault can also be a part of family violence and harm. You can see more information about support for victims of family violence and harm on our website here.
Get medical help for any injuries
If you have been injured, see a doctor, go to a hospital emergency department for help, or call an ambulance. People heal better and sooner if they have medical assistance. Have the doctor prepare a report that can be shared with police, if you choose to do that.
Report the assault as soon as possible
This can assist investigators and may also help you or others from further harm. Police will give you advice on how best to respond and keep safe.
If the assault is happening or has just happened, or you’re concerned for the immediate safety of yourself or others, call police on 111.
If you think police are not needed urgently or you’re unable to talk with them straight away, call the Police non-emergency line on 105 when you are safe to or go online to report what has happened.
105 Police non-emergency reporting.
Go to your local police station to talk to the person at the front counter and they will advise you about what to do. You may be able to speak to an officer straight away. Find a local police station.
Give a statement
The police will interview you and will ask you to give a statement to assist their investigations. Your information could later help in a criminal court case.
- A police officer will write down or record what happened. After a violent or traumatic experience people’s memories can sometimes be a bit foggy or uncertain. Things that happened can seem like a blur. Take your time and do your best.
- What you say must be true. Giving Police false information is a serious matter.
- You’ll be asked to read it through to check it’s correct and then sign to confirm it’s an accurate report of what happened to you.
- Police may also ask for permission to take photographs of any injuries as evidence and to obtain copies of any medical records relating to the injuries.
Police will investigate the assault
This can take some time. If there is to be a court case, they will be in touch with you to talk about the court process and invite you to give a Victim Impact Statement. They will explain what giving evidence will involve if you are to be a court witness. Police will also let you know when and where you may be needed to give your evidence. Sometimes there can be delays in a court case, so they will let you know if that happens.
If the crime has been serious, and the perpetrator is sent to prison, you may be entitled to be placed on the Victim Notification Register. This means you will be kept up to date with what is happening to the offender throughout the justice process. You can read more about this Register here.
Find ways that to increase confidence in your future personal safety and security
Use the tips police suggest in their booklet Keep Safe, Feel Safe. Taking these actions can help increase your confidence in your personal safety and security, and that of your family and whānau. NZ Police Keep Safe, Feel Safe booklet
Give yourself time to recover after this traumatic experience
See below for some common reactions and ways to cope with them.
Being assaulted is usually a threatening and frightening experience and you will probably have a range of strong reactions to what happened to you. If you knew the person who assaulted you, the effects and consequences can often be greater. There may also be injuries that need medical help and time to heal.
Everyone’s different and will react in their own ways
Common emotional reactions include shock, disbelief, fear, helplessness, denial, increased anxiety, feeling unsafe, difficulty concentrating, anger, or self-blame (if only I had…).
Physically you may have difficulty sleeping or your appetite might change. Other body symptoms can include being shaky, tight chest, a racing heart, difficulty breathing, body aches, nausea, upset stomach, or headaches. Existing health conditions may get worse because of the stress.
You may find yourself preoccupied and have difficulty concentrating on other things. There may be disturbing memories, nightmares, or flashbacks, as if it were happening again. Victims will often try hard to avoid anything that brings back such bad memories.
These kinds of reactions are all normal
However, they might affect you more, and for longer, than you expect. See some tips below for coping with your reactions.
Looking after yourself is important.
After the stress of what’s happened, make time to take care of yourself well. Eat healthy food. Drink enough water. Keep up routines and get good rest and sleep, as best you can. Do some simple exercise. Take some slow, deep breaths. Spend time with people you can relax with, or with a pet. Spend time in nature. If you find keeping busy helps, find useful tasks to do. See a doctor if you’re unwell, extremely anxious, or are having difficulty sleeping. Draw on any cultural or spiritual beliefs you may have. Accept caring offers from others if that would help.
A flashback feels as though you’re back in the middle of your traumatic experience or reliving some aspect of it. This can be in vivid detail and during a flashback it can be difficult and confusing to connect back to the present and to what is real. To better understand flashbacks and ways to manage them, download a copy of our information sheet Dealing with Flashbacks.
Talk about what happened
When you’re ready, talk to someone you trust about what happened, such as a trusted family or whānau member, a close friend, your doctor, a counsellor, a psychologist, a respected elder, rangatira, or a Victim Support Worker. If any aspects of your story are particularly disturbing, speak to a professional. Talking honestly about how things are can help release the stress and emotional tension inside.
More tips for coping with your reactions
To understand more about trauma and grief, and to learn ways to manage your reactions see our information sheets below.
Your reactions are normal responses to a traumatic event
Even though it may not feel like it now, they will gradually lessen in the weeks and months to come.
If they don’t lessen, or get worse and disrupt your daily life and work, it is best to seek the help of a professional who has experience supporting people after trauma. Some people may, develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you have concerns, see your doctor, a counsellor, a psychologist, or ask your Support Worker about help that is available to you.
If your reactions trouble you
- Visit your doctor. They can do a health check and support you with any ongoing issues, such as sleeplessness, anxiety, flashbacks, or depression.
- Talk with a counsellor or psychologist. They can help you work through your reactions and the consequences the crime has had.
How we can help
We are here for you 24/7. Our Support Workers are available to support you personally, or as a family or whānau, for as long as you need us. Please call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.
Our support is completely free and confidential, and available throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.
What we can offer
Our Support Workers can support you with:
- someone to listen, talk with, and support you to cope through trauma and loss
- help to understand your rights and make informed choices
- information and help to answer your questions
- help to access local support services and counselling to suit your situation
- someone to assist and support you at court trials, hearings, and dealing with police and other government agencies
- help to prepare Victim Impact Statements and attend family group or restorative justice conferences
- financial assistance for victims of serious crime.
We are committed to providing quality support to strengthen the mana and well-being of all those affected by assault.
If English is your second language
If you require support in your first language, Victim Support can use Ezispeak to connect with an interpreter over the phone. Call us on 0800 842 846 and let us know. We will try to match you to a Support Worker who speaks your language.