What is Family Harm and Sexual Harm?

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What is family harm?

Family harm is a pattern of behaviour that coerces, controls or harms someone in a close family relationship. Family harm can take many different forms including;

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Financial

It often involves fear, intimidation, isolation and loss of freedoms. Family harm includes tamariki being exposed to violence between adults, or subject to abuse or neglect themselves.

You can experience family harm from anyone you have close personal relationship with. It doesn’t have to be a sexual relationship and you don’t have to be living together.

You may be experiencing some behaviours in your relationship that just don't feel right. You can take the anonymous online test to understand more or contact us to talk to a social worker.

Family harm is never the fault of the person who is experiencing it.

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Does family harm impact children?

Children who have a parent who is or was abused have a higher risk of being abused themselves. Even if the children were not abused directly, children may be seriously affected by seeing or hearing their parent being hurt.

Children will pick up on tension, stress and fear from a young age, even when they don’t understand what's going on.

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Does family harm only happen to women?

Family harm can happen to anyone, regardless of age, background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity. However, statistics show most family harm is carried out by men and experienced by women.

What is sexual harm?

Sexual harm is physical, verbal, visual or digital interactions and behaviour of a sexual nature that is not asked for or wanted. Sexual harm can occur in relationships and marriage. It can involve force, coercion and power used by one person (or people) over another.

Child sexual abuse includes any exposure to a child under 16 to sexual acts or sexual material.

Sexual harm includes sexual harassment, such as:

  • Name calling
  • Bullying
  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favours
  • Any other unwanted sexual behaviour

Sexual harm also includes sexual assault, such as:

  • Rape
  • Unwanted sexual touching
  • acts of indecency, such as exposure

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What is consent?

Consent is permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Giving consent is an enthusiastic “yes!”Non-consensual sexual activity is illegal in New Zealand. Everyone involved in sexual activity needs to consent to it. Consent must be actively and freely given. Not saying ‘no’ or being silent is not the same as giving consent.

To give their consent, everyone involved must be fully conscious and not affected by alcohol or other substances. People can also give their consent and then change their mind. That is their right.

Sexual activity of any kind with anyone under 16 years old is illegal in New Zealand. Under New Zealand law anyone under 16 is not considered old enough to give consent, even if the young person agrees.

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What is digital sexual harm?

Digital sexual harm, often known as online sexual abuse or cyber exploitation, refers to the misuse of technology to engage in harmful activities of a sexual nature. This can involve sharing intimate images or videos without consent, online harassment, and coercive behaviour through digital platforms.

Supporting Victim-Survivors

Family Action provides confidential support in West Auckland for all victim-survivors of family harm, sexual harm, abuse, or trauma. Your experiences may be historical or current. We will provide support to you and your family/whānau.

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Are you in an abusive relationship?

Are you concerned about your relationship? Abusive behaviours can be physical actions or they can be more subtle. It can be saying things to you or feeling forced to do something because you’re fearful of their reaction.

Take an anonymous online test to check how your partner or ex’s actions impact you.

Take the test