The justice system can be complicated and unfamiliar but knowing what to expect can help. We can help you understand and engage with the justice system, answer any questions you have, and be there for you if you want someone to listen.
We can support you with:
You can call us or visit our How we can help page to find out more about who we are, how we can help you and how to access our support.
If you or others have been injured, see a doctor, go to a hospital emergency department or call an ambulance on 111 regardless of whether you decide to report the incident or not.
A professional medical assessment can help your recovery and ensure physical safety.
Depending on the incident, consider having the doctor prepare a medical report that can be shared with police, if you are comfortable doing that.
For many, a ceremonial blessing of the site where a person has died is an essential part of processing the loss. It acknowledges of the spiritual impact of the tragedy and protects and guides the spirit of the deceased. It respects and honours the dignity of the deceased person, their family, whānau, and community.
For Māori, it can include lifting of the tapu on the site and karakia. Other cultural and faith groups have their own unique blessing ceremonies. Some family or whānau members may choose to visit the scene and be part of a blessing ceremony and others may not. They may prefer to hold a private blessing or open it to whomever would like to come, including from the community.
If you are an immediate family or whānau member wishing to organise a blessing for the site, you could contact your kaumātua, local marae, church or faith centre, the police officer who has been working with you, a Police Iwi Liaison Officer, or speak to a Support Worker.
If you don't personally know the family or whānau but witnessed or discovered the incident, you can speak to a Support Worker if you'd like to attend a blessing, provided it is open to the public and the family or whānau are comfortable with that.
Manaaki Tāngata | Victim Support
Call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected to a Support Worker for assistance.
Support through the criminal justice system
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Support is here for you when things get tough. You don't have to face it alone. Reach out to these confidential and non-judgmental services to discuss your situation and get the help you need.
When children and young people of any age or stage face tough life situations they need the loving care and support of those around them, especially when they have been affected by crime, loss and other traumatic events. Knowing they have someone to rely on can make their journey a little less daunting.
It's common to feel uncertain about how to navigate these situations yourself. Find information and resources tailored to specific situations on our Crime and traumatic events pages, as well as additional support on our Coping with grief and trauma page. This information might help you to learn more about the incident that has occurred or provide help for yourself as a support person.
Although we are unable to support under 16s, remember you are not alone and there are people who can support you as well. Contact a support professional like a doctor or counsellor, a trusted elder or community leader, close family or whānau, or a Support Worker. If they are old enough, young people may want to do this themselves and it's ok to support them to do that.
Young people who have been affected by a crime or traumatic event will react in their own individual way and a lot will depend on their age and stage. You might see them doing or saying things that are different from normal or out of character. These are completely normal reactions to a traumatic situation and you'll find their reactions gradually lessen over time.
Be accepting of their reactions and know that it will take time for them to work through what’s happened, especially if they have experienced or witnessed a violent crime or lost someone they care about.
Infants and children may exhibit a variety of physical, emotional, and behavioral signs when under stress.
These signs may include:
Young people and teens may not have the words to express their feelings. When faced with difficult situations, they often cope by keeping themselves distracted.
They may show a range of these physical, emotional and behaviour signs:
The emotional reaction of children and young people will depend on the nature and context of the situation, how they see it, and their personality and life experience.
If you notice any troubling or worrying signs, it is important to talk to a doctor or a mental health professional.
If the discoverer or witness is a child or young person, they will need ongoing support and extra understanding from caring adults around them. Depending on the severity they may also need help from professionals with trauma support skills regardless if they may or may not have known the person who died.
During an investigation, a police detective may need to ask them what they witnessed. Police have strict procedures for interviewing children so this would only be done with sensitivity and professional support.
This is an overwhelming experience, and it could be a very troubling time for them. They’re likely to have some physical reactions, like feeling sick, headaches, stomach aches, being shaky, bed wetting, or less appetite. Difficult memories could keep coming back. They might find it hard to sleep and could have bad dreams or flashbacks about what they saw.
In a quiet place, gently ask them what happened to them. They may not remember much at first and it may come back to them later. They might not want to talk because they’re in shock or very frightened. Just be with them quietly instead. Let them know you know it was scary for them, and they’re safe now.
After a crime or traumatic event, it’s important to remember that children and young people might not know how, or even want to talk about it. Just showing you believe them, making them feel safe, and expressing your support and willingness to stand by them can be a guiding light during a tough time.
There are some helpful strategies you can use to support their recovery.
You might consider:
Encouraging children and young people to stay connected with trusted family, whānau, and friends, and helping them to find positive activities and interests to focus on can support their recovery.
While they may face some challenges, most importantly, let them know that you love and support them and are ready to listen.
Bereaved children and young people will need ongoing support and reassurance from those around them. It is not unusual for trauma or grief reactions to resurface later. As children and young people grow and develop, they will respond to their loss in news ways. They may ask new questions sometimes, even years after the death.
Reassure children and young people that it’s normal to have strong thoughts and feelings after someone dies. Talk about some helpful ways to manage them, such as taking some slow, deep breaths if they’re getting anxious, crying if they want to, or talking to someone they trust when they’re feeling sad.
It can be incredibly hard to tell such sad news to a child or young person. Being honest with them early on protects them from later hearing the news insensitively or incorrectly from others. What they can understand and the questions they’ll ask will depend on their age and stage of development.
Child or young witnesses go to court as a witness if the judge or jury needs to hear from them about what happened. They are given special support and protection and there are legal responsibilities to protect their privacy.
Coming face-to-face with the defendant in a courtroom can be a very distressing experience for children and complicated court proceedings can make them feel stressed and anxious. Quite often they may be questioned like adults, leaving them uncertain about what to say and how to say it in this unfamiliar environment.
Court Education for Young Witnesses is a programme offered by Court Victim Advisors to young witnesses in adult courts. It also includes the young person’s caregiver and support people.
The goal is to familarise the court to the young witness and explain court proceedings, seating arrangements, and roles to them. You can even arrange a visit to the courtroom to get familiarised with it in advance.
If you request this program from your Court Victim Advisor, they will contact you approximately 3 weeks before the court case.
Young people are at greater risk of experiencing online harassment and bullying. They can also be a victim of online hate crime, cybercrimes such as online scams, sextortion, or have intimate photos of them shared online.
It’s important children and young people have an understanding of the risks of posting private and personal information online. Despite the fact that they deserve to feel safe in online environments, there are some risks associated.
There are some simple steps you can take to ensure online safety for the children and young people you are supporting.
Lead by Example
It’s important to take good care of yourself - your well-being matters. You may find it helpful to talk to someone supportive too.
It’s not easy watching someone you care about going through a difficult and traumatic experience. Supporting a child or young person through a bereavement can also be incredibly challenging, especially if you’re grieving the loss as well. Sometimes, the things that another person has experienced can start to have a second-hand effect on you also.
To be able to give others good support, you need to prioritise looking after yourself and take some time to yourself when you can.