Care in Collaboration: Preventing Secondary Victimisation Through a Holistic Approach to Pre-Court Sexual Violence Interventions
Although men's sexual violence is well known as a problem of epidemic proportions and a cause of significant harm, effective prevention strategies have yet to be developed and the effectiveness of services for victims cannot be guaranteed. Most victims of sexual violence choose not to report, but those who do may still incur exacerbation of rape's destructive effects by those who are meant to help. Interested to know how responsiveness could be improved, I began this study by examining the literature on services for victims in order to identify the ingredients of good practice. Integrated specialist services which include support and advocacy with legal/forensic services emerged as the ideal. Finding that such systems had been positively evaluated in their real-life applications, New Zealand' s responsiveness was analysed with reference to this multi-agency model. I was particularly interested to know what supported the development of such a model and what the impediments might be to its development in New Zealand. Since literature indicated that government input was vital to implementation of specialist holistic practice, examination of New Zealand government and its Police responsiveness became the primary goal of data-gathering. With Police Districts as the units of study, data was collected from site visits and semi-structured interviews with police in each District. This data was triangulated through prolonged participant observation and interviews with medical/forensic and support/advocacy personnel. I found that specialist holistic services were regularly available for child sexual abuse victims. In contrast, for adult sexual violence victims these were rare and service gaps were rife. This was due to governance bodies failing to coordinate nationally or locally in funding and supporting service development. Explanations for this failure are found in feminist critiques of the patriarchal systems which privilege men' s needs over women's safety. I argue that with women's movement into public life and with the political will, nationally-based reform of services is now possible. Given its small size, New Zealand is particularly well-placed to achieve this reform if current governance structures are employed in constructing a national framework for nationwide development of specialist multi-agency practice.