It's often the way in life that you don't get passionate about something until it affects you or someone you love. Four years ago I left an abusive relationship and there's not a week that goes by that I don't think about women and children in the community trapped in abusive situations. 

When I was younger my view of domestic violence was pretty narrow, as my definition only included physical abuse. I remember being a teenager at school and talking to my friends about abuse, saying that if anyone ever hit me I would leave them straight away, unfortunately the reality was much more complicated and difficult than I could have ever imagined. 

I learnt that power and control from a partner has a way of stripping you of your voice and your rights as a human being. It can start small, names calling here and there, and slowly build till you question your memory and even your sanity. I lost count of the times my ex called me stupid, crazy and pathetic. Words that stung. I would count in my head as he ranted on about all my 'failures' as a way to distract myself from the cruel words being spewed at me. When I was upset he'd smirk at me and tell me I was pathetic and irrational, when in reality I was his partner expressing my emotions. It's scary how quickly this messed up way of living can become the 'new normal'. He'd come into the room late at night and if I didn't want to talk he'd turn on the lights and pull off the covers to wake me up, it was all on his terms. 

Hinerangi Nina Kaye Taane-Tinorau (The Respondent) 22.2.17

Image Credit - Hinerangi in Pose of Immortality by Bronwyn Waipuka-Callander
Image Credit - Hinerangi in Pose of Immortality by Bronwyn Waipuka-Callander



Forced into this space

By deception 

Your lies

Designed 

To destroy me

Silence

Paralyse

 

Stripped bare

Of my sunshine

My wind

And my rain

Backed

Into an abyss

Left to perish

From pain

Article written by Olivia Stanley

From Romanticism to Rape

We have begun to choke on a centuries old cocktail called, “romantic perfection”. Romanticism is a beautiful theory; yet it is one that is nearly impossible to execute in our 21st century society. These mid-18th century ideals harmonise love, marriage and sex as the ultimate fusion of physical, emotional and spiritual gratification and well-being for humanity. Today we seek every romantic ingredient: attractiveness inside and out, an instant and constant connection of attraction and understanding, and that sex is the ultimate declaration of love. All of a sudden, casual hook-ups, one-night-stands and rape culture is born. Soul-mates are substituted for the next intense moment of physical gratification. We, our generation, are overstimulated and overtly sexualised. And, instead of waiting for that person who is both our lover and best-friend, we tolerate transient flirtations, fleeting attention and bordering on lecherous interactions. Nowadays, sex is sought without romance. 

Rape culture is a volatile subject, yet its influence is engrained in our everyday interactions. Sadly, this issue is often left unaddressed and little guidance is offered around it. This is my attempt to expose the undercurrents sweeping through our society.

I am not a bra-burning, man-hating, hairy extremist feminist who condemns all men as “rapists”; because that is not feminism. I am not attempting to ascribe the blame to those who are innocent. The Association of American Universities confirmed that from a pool of 27 colleges, 27% of female seniors had suffered sexual assault, yet it was only 8% of the total men across these colleges that actually committed this crime (thehuntinggroundfilm.com). Can we thus infer that it is around the 10% mark of men who are predators and sexual offenders? Whilst in number there are only a few men who are rapists, the mainstreaming of pornography, inequality and sexual polarisation have moulded a much higher percentage of the population as perpetrators of rape culture. Rape quips and banter, derogatory and objectifying remarks, silence and laughing along are the frameworks for raising accomplices to rape culture. In our Western society, gender could not be a more fluid term. Yet, gender stereotypes still prevail...... contd

Article written by Nichole, founder of Emmy and Me

When I was tiredly complaining about having to stack yet another load of firewood after being in the sun all day with an axe, you threw a block of wood at my knees with enough force to draw blood, knock me over, and leave bruising for days.

I told myself that you were tired too, and that I shouldn’t have complained. After all we were stacking and drying the firewood to sell – I should have been grateful.

When you punched me in the face hard enough to crack one of my teeth, and then again, and then again, I was so afraid of you and for myself. 

I told myself that I understood why I was being hit – even though I was too afraid of you to tell you the truth, I shouldn’t have lied to you.

When you drove me to the middle of nowhere, punching and berating me while you drove, taking the shoes off my feet, my bag, my glasses, my camera, my phone and my wallet, and left me in a turnaround bay with no way home, I should have left and never looked back.

I told the man who picked me up from that roadside gravel pit, bleeding and swollen, that I didn’t need to go to the police station – I would be OK.

We know that family violence has a devastating impact on individuals and communities. The Government is committed to redesigning the way our system prevents and responds to family violence. We understand the size and magnitude of the problem and its inter-generational nature. 

But family violence is not a problem that government can solve alone — it requires all New Zealanders to think differently. 

We need to act sooner to keep victims safer. We need to act earlier to change perpetrator behaviour. This means we need a new approach to better identify risk and recognise the patterns of family violence. 

The first step is making system-wide changes. Across 16 different portfolios, Ministers and departments are working together to understand how the Government delivers family violence services, and assess the effectiveness of our response. 

Through the Ministerial Work Programme on Family and Sexual Violence, we know that we must address and change the behaviour of perpetrators to make real change sooner. We can’t wait until sentencing and court-mandated programmes ensure that help is available. 

The overhaul of our family violence laws is a critical, foundational step so that a new approach can be built. We’re introducing new family violence offences and acting to better track dangerous behaviour. We’re making sweeping changes across the system to better support victims and keep them safe. This includes making it easier to get a protection order, maximising the opportunities of Police safety orders, and making property orders more effective in keeping victims in their homes. It includes new offences to prosecute violence, a focus on getting in early, and connecting perpetrators with the help they need to stop the abuse. 

The law is only one of the elements in how we can tackle the challenge ahead of us. It sets up the system, holds perpetrators to account, and puts a stake in the ground. But laws by themselves don’t get results. We all need to do better if we are going to combat family violence.

Hon Amy Adams
MP for Selwyn, Minister of Justice, Minister for Courts, Minister for Social Housing, Minister Responsible for Social Investment, Minister Responsible for HNZC, and Associate Minister of Finance