Stopping family violence: must do better

Written By: - Date published: 2:24 pm, August 25th, 2009 - 21 comments
Categories: news - Tags:

Shocking to see these figures:

Almost a third of Kiwi women and one in five men will experience violence and abuse at the hands of their partners. The statistics are in a report made public today that will guide a crackdown on family violence.

We need to get better at dealing with these issues. It’s not just about lives now, it’s about where we will end up as a society ten, twenty years down the road. The same applies to dealing with violence against children.

Colin Espiner did a useful analysis on the recent referendum result, asking Key to “hold the line” and that “this is a matter of what’s right, not what’s popular.  And the law is right”.  That’s what leadership is all about.

21 comments on “Stopping family violence: must do better”

  1. roger nome 1

    Well – the answer is clearly more benefit cuts, lower wages and more fundamentalist christian ‘pro-family’ rhetoric. It worked during the 1990s, and it’ll work again now.

    oh, yeah that’s right, Youth suicide levels doubled from 1990 to 1996, my bad….

  2. ak 2

    The Espiner piece is interesting – anyone recall a similarly balanced view when Helen was taking the flak for it pre-election?

    • RedLogix 2.1


      You are absolutely right as usual. Espiner blames the politicians for a lousy job of selling the legislation, but the finger points a the usual bunch of media suspects for an equal failure.

  3. roger nome 3

    Seriously though, most incidents of serious violence against children happpens while the caregiver is drunk. So at the core of the problem is NZ’s binge-drinking culture. Of course, this is an extremely complicated issue, but one obvious way in which it can be mitigated is to increase opportunities for lower-income earners (i.e. higher wages in lower-income occupations, and increased incentives to upgrade through training). The bleaker your future is, the more likely you are to want to escape thinking about it, and that’s where getting off your face is very handy.

    Unfortunately National seems to be making the problem worse not better (i.e. 90 day bill and axing the training incentive allowance for sole-parents).

    • Noko 3.1

      Yeah, it’s interesting that cannabis is illegal (though arguably a large part of New Zealand’s social culture) while alcohol, literally a toxin is sold alongside your bread in the supermarket. I mean, how many stoned people get in fights? Reminds me of a great George Carlin (or it may have been Bill Hicks) quote (paraphrased out of laziness):

      So guys, how many stoners do you know that go out on a Friday night and get into fights? I’d imagine it goes something like this:
      “Hey, heeey, man, what did you say about my sister?”
      “What DID I say about your sister?”
      “I dunno, you tell me!”

      • David S. 3.1.1

        It was Hicks, and the quote was,

        “You can’t get into a fight when you’re stoned BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE”

        “Hey BUDDY!?”
        “Hey WHAT!?”


        “End of argument.”

  4. SHG 4

    That one in five men who is abused by his partner could really use a nice cold Imperial pint of Harden The Fuck Up.

    • RedLogix 4.1

      Does The Standard have “Prize Dimwit Comment of the Month Award”? Because seriously this one is the standout winner in almost every category I can think of.

      Partner abuse is an epidemic in this country. Unfortunately when threatened each gender tends to reach first for the weapon they are most comfortable with; with men they tend to do stupid violent things, while women do nasty emotional harm.

      Unfortunately we are at the stage where it is the male reaction, the physical violence, that is getting all the public attention, while the equally hurtful female emotional violence remains insidiously under the radar. I’m guessing that things will remain that way for some time. Physical violence is never justified within a relationship, and rarely justified ever, and until we make some real gains in stamping it out, it will remain the priority.

      But the punches and kicks leave visible bruises and break bones; they get attention and people can respond. Emotional abuse is hidden, invisible. Almost always the victim is not only not believed, they are told to ‘harden the fuck up’. Get beaten up and there is medical care and networks of people to help if you want it. The bruises will fade and the bones usually mend, even if the sorrow and loss of trust take longer to heal.

      But if you are on the wrong end of constant criticism, belittling, controlling and demeaning emotional abuse you are on your own. There is little to no public awareness, almost no support networks, few professionals to help. Ultimately we are more than anything else social creatures, and when we are crippled emotionally it is our social life that falls apart, cutting us off from other people, triggering depression, anxiety and stress traumas, destroying hope and self-belief.

      For many victims, they reach a point where they would prefer an actual beating.

      • Herman Poole 4.1.1

        I would guess that emotional abuse and peer pressure have a greater influence on suicide statistics than physical violence and that if you were able to quantify the damage across society, the total cost or effect of emotional abuse would be greater than physical violence.

  5. A. Akbar 5

    And you could do with some nice Shut The Fuck Up.

  6. You have to stop it at a young age, you have to show kids personal responsibility and consequences to their actions.

    You cant brush minor things under the carpet.

    What do you don’t do is reward bad behavior, ya don’t give young people who are committing violent acts, their own reality tv show.

    • RedLogix 6.1

      What do you don’t do is reward bad behavior, ya don’t give young people who are committing violent acts, their own reality tv show.

      Totally agree. A hell of a lot of so-called reality tv, is an amoral perversion of reality.

  7. deemac 7

    domestic violence against men is often male on male, ie another family member, not a partner (I don’t know the stats if any for same sex relationships) or the victim is disabled. It’s about relative power, not gender.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      If you insist on narrowing the definition of abuse to physical violence only, then of course the vast majority of perpetrators will be men.

      But as long as emotional or psychological abuse remains hidden under the radar, or considered a much lessor offence, then a lot of equally noxious female behaviour will remain unchallenged and unchanged.

  8. just another student 8

    This is difficult to write, and I may vanish and cease discussing it at any point, for my own mental wellbeing. However I post this in the hopes that it will bring into discussion a topic that is generally not discussed.

    I am the sort of person that would never tolerate abuse at the hands of a partner, I am afterall educated, intelligent and strong willed. However I have in the past week had to accept that I am (and have been for years) a victim of family violence. I have spent days researching, reading, talking to those I trust, and generally trying to get handle on that fact, along with shedding many a tear.

    One article I read sticks in my mind, titled “the silent abuse”. Silent because of the shame attached to it, the guilt, the pain of living with it, and the pain of actually doing something to stop it.

    I am talking about the abuse of a parent by their offspring. For years I have known that my childs behaviour was unacceptable, and that we as a family needed help to address it.

    I pushed every agency I could find to provide that help, to no avail. The mental health system was unable to help. CYFS refused to help on many many occassions, apparently there was “not a care and protection issue”. Eventually it reached the point of youth justice involvement, (via police) and CYFS were forced to become involved. Once again however, no real help was received.

    In the past 5 days I have had to call on the help of Police at least 5 times, sadly those very helpful and understanding officers have to keep coming back, even after trespass orders have been issued, while the court system keeps putting my (now adult) abusive child back on the street. He has in fact been bailed to less than a kilometre away in court today. Apparently that is okay though, because the judge “told him” not to come near us. I am effectively a prisoner in my home while he is free to do his thing.

    The saddest thing is knowing I am not alone, that many many other parents are out there, hiding bruises, putting on a smile and pretending its not happening, rather than face the shame, the blame from others, or the guilt of having their own child dragged away in handcuffs.

    Family violence will not end, until such time as the systems in this country actually start working, sadly I do not hold out much hope of that in the near future, particularly with govt solutions that do not address the base issues of youth offending. (I can provide literature to back up my personal views if anyone is interested). The youth of today are those that will go on to abuse their partners, children, and yes even their parents.

    • RedLogix 8.1

      That is hell of a sad to read.

      I know the worst part is that relatively few people have much awareness or understanding this silent, hidden abuse. I’m not going to try and offer any well-meaning, but probably useless advice, except to let you know that what you have written, has been read and understood.

      It’s kind of embarrassing, how easy it is to solve all the world’s political problems, and how hard it is to solve just one real problem for one real person.

  9. just another student 9

    Thanks RedLogix,

    I just want to say I didn’t post it in an attempt to gain sympathy, just to bring the issue up. It is interesting to note that in all the pages of the report mentioned in the opening post, parental abuse is mentioned only once. Yet talking to police it is a problem they are dealing with often. If you factor in that many many parents can’t actually bring themselves to have their own child arrested, and you realise its a problem that could be very widely spread.

    I would love to believe that yesterdays news of boot camps would go anywhere to helping this problem too, but sadly I have to agree with Judge Becrofts comment that it will only build fitter, faster and stronger youth offenders. Mental Health experts estimate that 40-60% of offenders in the youth justice system suffer from either mental health or alcohol and drug dependency issues, and that without addressing those issues change will not occur.

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