Linda Hall: Speak up to help those who can't

By Linda Hall


This week I'm dedicating my words to the Women's Refuge crisis line. The annual campaign's slogan for this year is 'Give her a voice and help her be heard'.

In other words don't just donate money, speak out for the women out there who for one reason or another feel they can't ask for help.

I watched refuge volunteer Maxine Revell on the Breakfast show last week.

She said there are still abused women who are not able to speak out, especially when there are children involved because they "find it harder to leave".

I can understand that.

It's all very well for people to sit back and say "if my husband/wife ever hit or abused me I'd be out that door before they sat back down".

In reality people who say this will likely never be at the end of a fist, a slap or be sat down and yelled at by someone they love.

And like it or not that's where domestic violence starts ... with someone you love or once loved.

I imagine parents living in a relationship with domestic violence would do anything they could to protect their children.

I know there are the exceptions but the majority of parents living with domestic violence would more than likely pretend everything was okay and try to shield their children.

It's only when you are on the outside looking in that you see not only are they staying for all the wrong reasons but their children are learning that it's okay to hurt and abuse someone you love.

I have heard and read stories from people who have been mentally and physically abused. According to many of them the mental abuse can be far worse.

I believe the green-eyed monster is to blame for a lot of mental abuse. Jealousy is a wasted emotion born, I think, of insecurity.

Most of us can stop and chat, go for a coffee, take the kids to the park, have a great time at a party chatting and smiling with men and women alike. But some people have to account for every minute of their day, every cent they spend and explain why the hell they smiled and talked to that man or woman.

I've heard of people being 'interrogated for hours on end while their husband/wife gets angrier and angrier, punching doors and walls and yelling and screaming'. This kind of domestic violence is so easy to hide. There are no visible scars and it's also easy for the victim to blame themselves, believing that if they hadn't done this or said that none of it would have happened

Maxine Revell said the crisis line took a call every nine minutes and they have on average 244 women and children every night in a refuge.

"Last year it was 230 per night so domestic violence is not on the decrease unfortunately," she said.

According to other statistics I found online, one in three women experience psychological or physical abuse from their partners in their lifetime, on average 14 women, six men and 10 children are killed by a member of their family every year and police are called to around 200 domestic violence situations a day, that's one very seven minutes on average.

Scary stuff. So what can we do? It's simple really. If you know someone who is a victim of domestic violence talk to them, get help for them. In other words use your words to help. If you hear fighting at the neighbours, call the police. You never know, you might just save someone's life.

I'm sure the police would rather attend something that turns out to be trivial, than turn up the next day to a murder investigation.

FOOTNOTE:


You can be a caring neighbour without being a nosy neighbour. For more information, visit womensrefuge.org.nz

Linda Hall is assistant editor at Hawke's Bay Today.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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