Abuse skeleton in the closet

As a society we are quick to gloat about all that is good about living in New Zealand, and there is plenty.

Unfortunately, we have been less inclined to tackle the skeleton in our closet, that of abuse within our community.

In the past financial year, 35 of the 65 murders recorded in New Zealand were classified as "family violence", showing just how ingrained the blight of abuse has become, something we should all be ashamed of.

It is an issue we need to tackle head-on as a society rather than responding with a knee-jerk reaction such as that which tends to follow publicity about an abuse case - the caravan moves on from those cases, and life returns to normal until the next case hits the media.

Unfortunately, and to our shame, too often there is a next case, although most will never be made public.

Disturbing-ly, the vast majority of abuse cases are hidden, the public never really able to appreciate just how prevalent they are or ascertain the number of victims forced to endure pain and suffering without support.

Of course, abuse comes in many forms - physical, psychological, sexual, emotional, elder and child - and over the next few weeks, the Queenstown Times, in conjunction with Te Rito Family Violence Collaboration group and supported by the "It's Not OK" campaign, hopes to make a difference.

What we want to achieve is pretty simple: we want people to look out for their family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances and, if they suspect they need help, reach out and help them.

We want people who are in abusive relationships (male or female, young or old) to read these stories and know it's "not OK"; there is a way out and plenty of people are waiting to help.

We want people abusing others to take a look at what they're doing and get the help they need.

We want to tell the stories of survivors - those who have been to hell and back and have emerged stronger despite their ordeal.

Also, through their stories, we want to inspire others suffering abuse to contact us and tell us their story.

Ultimately, we want to make a positive difference, by getting this problem out in the open so we can start addressing it.


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