From an open letter to John Key yesterday about the changes to ACC funding of therapy for survivors of sexual violence, currently under review. The letter was sent by Marion Williams, a psychologist with 7 years experience of working with children recovering from sexual abuse:
The way that ACC is treating the survivors of sexual abuse crimes since early 2009 is not just hideous but can be seen to be a re abuse by ACC of these people.
If those that have changed the criteria for claim acceptance and are involved in the process understand the dynamics of sexual abuse and the injuries it causes they are knowingly re abusing the victims of these crimes.
What she has to say about the effects on her clients:
Straight forward claims suddenly began to be turned down for no clear reason. In my own case as a counsellor I had previously only had two claims turned down in seven years, suddenly all were being turned down.
And this – warning, these cases are sad and difficult to read about, let alone experience:
Another person, who as a child was frequently raped by a family member, was made to undergo a second assessment, this time a psychiatric assessment. The first disclosure had already placed the person in a frightened, vulnerable and painful state. They waited months, highly stressed, for the second assessment to be done by this male stranger, and are now still waiting months while their highly sensitive information is bouncing around the ACC offices seemingly from person to person, while they fight to live. (Today they tell me their claim has been turned down as ACC believe they do not have a mental injury ie. a DSMIV diagnosis).
Another, a child who was drugged and raped on many occasions and is fighting, literally, to survive with their injuries, has had their claim turned down because it seems they also don’t have a mental illness connected to the abuses. This was decided not by the counsellor that the child decided they trusted to make the first assessment, or by the child’s doctor that referred them to a sensitive claims counsellor, but appears to be by someone in the Sensitive Claims office after a diagnostic assessment. This child had decided they had had enough assessing: they wanted help!
Yet another person had the courage to approach a counsellor after many years of turmoil to ask for help for deep emotional and spiritual injuries sustained because of a parent who raped them with violence as a habit throughout their childhood, but for an unknown reason (they were also not mentally ill). They were struggling to managing an ongoing severe injury without appropriate knowledge or help. Their claim was also turned down.
Yes Minister, the needs of the victim are clearly paramount.