A quiet tide of family violence

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By Mick Jensen

The silence to domestic violence is just as foul as the violence itself, says Ashburton’s co-ordinator of Families Without Violence Network Jeff Withington.

Mr Withington pulls no punches when he says society finds it easier to close its eyes and ears to family violence than to confront it head on.

“Statistics suggest that one in three people have been affected, either directly or indirectly, in the knowledge that a family member, or perhaps a neighbour, is being bashed. And bashed regularly.”

Violence came in a number of forms and was not just physical, said Mr Withington, who iviolence.

“It can also be emotional, financial and psychological and is often a cycle that the perpetrator and victim can’t get out of.

“We can’t stop or change those who are violent now, but we can save the next generation from growing up to believe that dad hitting and abusing mum is acceptable.”

Through psychological persuasion, victims often came to believe that they deserved to be bashed, Mr Withington said.

“Domestic violence is a ‘dirty’ phrase and nobody likes to hear it, but we’ve got to face facts and we have to face up to what’s happening.”

Mr Withington said an increase in reported crime was a bittersweet positive in terms of domestic violence.

“It means more people are reporting domestic violence and abuse at home, but the conversation needs to be expanded much further through society because this is an issue that is not going away.”

The annual White Ribbon Day campaign, promoted locally by Mr Withington and others, highlights domestic violence and will once again be held on November 25.

An event will be held at the Ashburton Chessboard on East Street, but there will be no street march this year.

The White Ribbon Motorcycle Ride will head through Ashburton on November 24 and on the same day an evening quiz event, that includes black and white dress, supper and guest speakers, will be held at Hotel Ashburton to further promote the campaign.