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August 15, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Student Health Services – Sexual Assault: Who Can Provide Help?

In my last article on sexual assault, I discussed sexual assault as a significant event incurring a wide range of possible physical and psychosocial impacts. Although rape is usually defined as a crime and a legal issue, it is first and foremost a health issue and a totally preventable health issue if ethical codes of interaction are routinely observed. However until then, importantly, short term effects can be mitigated and, moreover, long-term effects can be obviated by the care which is given by specialist helping professionals in the immediate aftermath of sexual assault.

Because sexual assault creates a variety of needs, a variety of specialist agencies are available to provide medical/forensic, psychosocial and criminal justice advice and assistance. In Wellington, as elsewhere, any or all of the three main agencies which work together or separately may be accessed—depending on what is wanted by those who report.

I mentioned the government-funded Sexual Assault Assessment and Treatment Service (SAATS) in my last article. Tu Pakari Ora is our local SAATS Service, based at 275 Cuba St with an additional assessment site located in Lower Hutt. We are staffed by medical and nursing practitioners who, as specialists in the field of sexual assault responsiveness, do understand the many impacts of sexual assault.
Should you or a friend be assaulted, in the first instance SAATS is available for consultation about what you may need to do and what your options are. If you think you may, now or in the future, seek legal redress, SAATS can collect the forensic evidence for you and have it stored anonymously until you have enough information to make a decision about reporting to police. Equally important, we provide confidential medical care for all possible physical problems which may have been caused by the assault, including sexually transmitted infections, injuries or pregnancy. All of this care is provided in premises which are private, safe and secure and nothing that we do is at financial cost to you.

Your follow-up medical care is also our concern and this is can be offered in either of our Hutt or Wellington clinics, should you wish or we can refer you back to your GP. Our initial care and support may include helping you to access specialist support and/or police advice and services. Both are our partner agencies, but accessing either is your choice.

If you need to contact us, you can do so by phoning 805 0522 or 027 666 8865 between 8.30-4pm and talking confidentially to the SAATS coordinator or doctor. Outside those hours our answer machine will tell you how to access us. Alternatively you can visit us at our clinic in Cuba St. We welcome your enquiries and discussion about any sexual assault issue – no matter what. Most of all though, we hope you stay safe and don’t need us.

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  1. Irish says:

    Phnoeemanl breakdown of the topic, you should write for me too!

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