West’s story is horrific. As with so many abuse survivors, it is mostly impossible to verify, but it is believable, and far from unique.
Ministry of Social Development figures show that, in 2017, 1010 children and young people were sexually abused.
The numbers have dropped each year since 2013, but they are the tip of the iceberg, as the ministry counts only those cases that were investigated or assessed and found to have happened.
The wide-ranging Dunedin Study – which has tracked people since their birth in Dunedin in 1972 and 1973 – shows 30.3 per cent of women and 9.1 per cent of men reported they had been the victim of child sexual abuse.
Perhaps New Zealand’s biggest step yet to addressing those numbers was the establishment, in February 2018, of the royal commission of inquiry.