Editorial: Take a stand against violence

By Scott Inglis

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Christmas is supposed to be the time for giving - but it's a sad fact of life that it's also the time for people beating their loved ones.

There is a marked spike in domestic abuse cases in the Western Bay every Christmas-New Year holiday season.

In some households there is love and togetherness; in others there is abuse and violence. In some, there is both love and violence.

Domestic violence is the kind of topic most of us don't really want to discuss or think about. There are a number of people who think it only happens in other neighbourhoods and couldn't possibly happen in their street.

But the facts from anti-abuse organisation White Ribbon are worth considering.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

Women are usually the victims of domestic abuse in this country and men are capable of inflicting serious physical and psychological harm. An average of 14 women are killed by partners or former partners every year.

The organisation also says there are more than 3500 convictions recorded against men each year for assaults on women.

One statistic I found staggering is one in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives. Based on this figure, there is a good chance a woman we each know has been a victim of domestic violence - or will be.

Personally, I have never understood how a person can lose control so badly that they assault their partner or family - the very people they supposedly love and vow to take care of.

Sure, every relationship has its challenges and flash points and disagreements are not unusual. Christmas is also time when added pressures such as money and alcohol are added to the mix - creating a dangerous cocktail of violence.

But plenty of people encounter financial problems, stress and even drink too much without resorting to giving their loved ones the bash.

This makes me wonder if violent people have an underlying propensity for lashing out.

Our story on this issue on page A3 of Tuesday's edition had some sensible police advice on how to avoid or defuse a domestic abuse problem. One tip wisely advised people to take a deep breath and walk away if an argument began; another says think of the children and don't allow them to grow up associating Christmas with violence.

People who intimidate, threaten and/or hit their partners and children are bullies and cowards and their cowardly actions must not be tolerated.

I am sure some think it's their right to hit as they please. There are others who simply cannot control themselves and are full of remorse afterwards.

Family, friends and neighbours need to be on the lookout this festive season and beyond and take action when needed.

If someone sees someone being assaulted or threatened they have an obligation to report it to police immediately.

They might just save a life.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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