Lesley Elliott supports anti-violence riders

By Shawn McAvinue

White Ribbon supporter Lesley Elliott lights a candle at St Paul's Cathedral yesterday. Photo / Shawn McAvinue.
White Ribbon supporter Lesley Elliott lights a candle at St Paul's Cathedral yesterday. Photo / Shawn McAvinue.

White ribbons fluttered on the black leather jackets of the motorcycle riders who roared up to St Paul's Cathedral in Dunedin yesterday morning.

About a dozen riders and another 16 people including Lesley Elliott - mother of murdered Dunedin woman Sophie Elliott - attended the White Ribbon ride to end violence against women.

Mrs Elliott said she was a staunch supporter of white ribbon and encouraged positive peer pressure among men.

"It's for guys to say to their mates, 'Look, I don't like the way your treating your girlfriend'," Mrs Elliott said.

She had seen many young men without suitable role models, living in environments where negative behaviour towards women was seen as normal.

"Guys are seeing that and thinking that's how you act. And girls are seeing it and think, well, that's our lot. That's what you can expect being a woman."

If more education on the signs of abuse had been available for her daughter at high school, she might have recognised them earlier, she said.

"It certainly would have rung some alarm bells. But she didn't understand, and I couldn't understand."

Richard Bradley, of the Marlborough chapter of the Patriots Defence Force Motorcycle Club, was on his second White Ribbon Ride.

"The first thing about owning the problem is going out and saying 'hey, you're not my mate if you twack your missus'."

The message was being well received and some reformed abusers had shared their own journey to recovery with them, he said.

Dean the Very Rev Dr Trevor James kept the service for the riders short yesterday.

"This is a time for speed. We'll keep it short, simple and from the heart."

After the service, a reading from Canon Wiremu Quedley, a talk from Mr Bradley and Mrs Elliott, candles were lit, bikes were blessed and breakfast was eaten before the riders left for Oamaru.

The ride is due to finish on Saturday and White Ribbon Day is on Sunday.

- Otago Daily Times

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