Family Violence

I’ve just watched the clip Temuera Morrison has done aiding the Women’s Refuge appeal talking about family violence in relation to Jake the Muss (the character he played in 1994’s Once were Warriors). Take a look below and perhaps you’ll be prompted to financially help Women’s Refuge, who sadly never seem to have less work, only more.

Every 5 minutes NZ Police attend a domestic abuse incident, and 1 in 3 women experience physical and/or sexual abuse from a male (ex) partner in their lifetime. A woman is killed every 3.5 weeks by her partner or ex-partner and a child is killed every 5 weeks by a member of their own family. Grim numbers, very grim.

I’ve also just reviewed the clip I have on my Raising Children website. http://www.raisingchildren.org.nz/stories/family-violence/. It’s a 4 min story that interviews a previous abuser and victim, a couple of experts and someone at the coal face of picking up the pieces. When you look at any one of those interviews in depth as I did (we could only pick out a few bits for the clip) they are truly gutting – everyone has a sad story to tell. The abuser about how as a child he was abused and how as an adult he found himself repeating the cycle and the realisation that the scared little boy of old was now scaring his own children. The victim and how her own self confidence was completely shattered as a child when abused then chose partners that also abused her, and furthermore how the abuse fractured the relationship with her own children. A case worker reiterates how a woman gets it from all angles. She is abused by the partner, she feels a failure as a mother as can’t protect her children from the violence and the children get angry at the mother – because it’s not safe to be angry at the abuser.  And then there’s the experts – about the vast array of abuse that happens – not just physical, and how even in utero an abused woman’s production of extra stress hormone means their baby’s brain potentially ‘wires up’ in a different way physiologically, ready for a dangerous world.

It’s not all bad news though – good people who care – and there are more of us than those that don’t, are a protective influence for someone in an abusive environment. They have a go to person and plan. And there are great places and wise people ready to help. It might sound cliché ‘the village to raise a child’ thing, but it really is incumbent on anyone to do their best to help a woman, child, or indeed a man, or an animal in a situation to navigate a way out – and it might take more than one attempt, in fact it’s likely to, so be the safe, supportive steady stand by to get them out.

As we all know ‘It’s not ok’ and that means living and breathing that at a family/ whanau level, a community level and a societal level. I know I have certainly stopped my car and intervened in a situation I did not like on the side of the road that I saw, and I was proud of my teenage son recently when he went and asked a couple if everything was ok when he heard an argument on our street. The guy was acting in what he felt was a threatening manner to the woman, so he shone daylight on it.

Speaking a ray of sunlight in the dark, we interviewed Shine in the story we did, and they have a great site to visit if you want to know more – for you or someone you know.

You can also hide your visit if you don’t want an abuser to see where you have been – just go to that part of the site and it will show you how. And you can call their Free National Helpline for advice, 9am and 11pm, 7 days a week, on 0508-744-633.

And if you’re looking for a children’s book on the subject which is itself is a tricky thing to find, Dragon Island by New Zealander Martin Baynton delves into some hard decisions through lead character Norman the dragon, who does not want to be fierce, fiery and ferocious like those around them. He thinks there is a better way. It is written of course primarily as an entertaining read for the littlies but it also deftly weaves the message that although we can try to change the behaviour around us, if we can’t, then the best thing to do is to keep yourself safe first and foremost and ultimately perhaps walk away, so you make your own life the best it can be.

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