In all cases of sexual harm, lack of consent is part of the offence. You don’t give consent unless you agree to the activity. If you initially agree to the activity, then change your mind and say no or indicate in any way that you want it to stop, you are “withdrawing” your consent and the activity should stop.

You can’t ever give consent if you are too drunk or high to be able to consent, or if there is any force, threat, pressure, or deception involved. For example, if you agree to sex but only because the other person threatened you about it, that isn’t consent.

You also don’t give consent if you are mistaken about who the other person is, or what the activity will be. For example, if you agree to oral sex, that doesn’t mean you consent to other kinds of sex.

For more information about what informed consent looks like, see the BodySafe’s guide at

If you’re under 16, the law says you are too young to consent to someone doing a sexual act with you, even if you say you agree to it. This includes physical things like if someone touches intimate parts of your body, and other things, like sexting, or having a naked picture of you on their phone.

If you’re under 16 and looking for support about sexual harm, this section might not have the information you are looking for. The law is a bit different if the harm happens to someone under 16, because it is a more serious offence for someone to do a sexual act with a minor.

For more information about sex and relationships when you’re under 16, go to and click on “Sex and relationships”. You should talk to an adult you can trust, or contact a support group like Youthline or What’s Up as soon as you can. To find their contact details, see: “Where to go for more support” at the bottom of this page.

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Bullying, harassment and sexual harm

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online:

Victims Information

Victims Information is managed by the Ministry of Justice and provides links to a range of services available to help victims deal with the practical and emotional effects of the crime.

Phone: 0800 650 654

NZ Police

The police provide a list of phone counselling services and websites that can help victims of bullying and cyberbullying.


Harassment and bullying in the workplace

The Worksafe New Zealand website has information and guidance about workplace bullying.


Te Kāhui Tika Tangata/Human Rights Commission

The Human Rights Commission website provides information about human rights in Aotearoa and outlines how you can make a complaint to the Commission.

Website: or
Phone: 0800 496 877 (0800 4 YOUR RIGHTS)

Information on racial harassment:

To make a complaint online, download a complaint form or find out more about the complaints process:

YouthLaw Aotearoa

YouthLaw provides free legal advice for young people throughout New Zealand. Their website provides great information for young people about the law around harassment and bullying.

Phone: 0800 UTHLAW (0800 884 529)



NetSafe provides free and confidential help if you’ve been bullied, abused or harassed online. NetSafe has been appointed by the government to be a free information service and complaints agency under the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

Phone: 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
Text: “Netsafe” to 4282

Ministry of Justice – applying for a Harmful Digital Communications Order

See the Ministry of Justice website for information about applying to a District Court judge for a “take down” order or other type of action when you’ve suffered serious emotional distress because of cyberbullying.


NOTE: Before you apply to the court you must have complained to NetSafe.

Support for sexual harassment and assault

Wellington Rape Crisis

Wellington Rape Crisis provides free social work and counselling services to survivors, along with their friends, family, whānau and supporters.

Phone: 04 801 8973


HELP has been Auckland’s specialist provider of sexual abuse support services since 1982.

Phone: 0800 623 1700

Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Aotearoa

Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Aotearoa aims to enable all male survivors of sexual abuse to access a national network of a high quality support services.


Contact your local support organisation:

Safe to Talk

Safe to Talk offers free confidential contact with a trained specialist at any time, day or night, seven days a week.

Phone: 0800 044 334
Text: 4334

Also available as a book

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