Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Glenn inquiry: Abuse survivors in dark

Communication breakdown with Glenn Inquiry creates unease

Sir Owen Glenn has been embroiled in a public spat with fellow Warriors owner Eric Watson over the management of the rugby league franchise. Photo / HOS
Sir Owen Glenn has been embroiled in a public spat with fellow Warriors owner Eric Watson over the management of the rugby league franchise. Photo / HOS

Frustrations are mounting over the stalled Glenn Inquiry into domestic violence. People who took part are feeling dejected and ignored, and sexual violence survivors advocate Louise Nicholas has labelled that "inhumane".

The inquiry, set up more than 18 months ago, has interviewed hundreds of domestic violence and child abuse survivors, but no findings have been made public.

Its founder, Sir Owen Glenn, has been embroiled in a public spat with fellow Warriors owner Eric Watson over the management of the rugby league franchise.

An Auckland woman who nearly lost her life to domestic violence said she believed the inquiry was her chance to make a difference.

"It is a major, major thing for a woman to talk to people they don't know and tell them what's happened in their life," she said.

"But I actually believed in the Owen Glenn Inquiry."

However, when 14 of the 25 original inquiry members resigned around May last year she became "uneasy" and wanted out.

She asked that her information be returned but received no response.

"[They] couldn't even give me the decency of contacting me and speaking to me when they had information that I hadn't shared with anybody else."

A Wellington woman said she was made to feel like her experiences from a verbally abusive 12-year relationship weren't serious enough to merit further investigation.

"Serious domestic violence is the headline catcher, if you like — it's the category that makes people sit up and take notice. But people in my group, there's thousands of us."

She had written to the inquiry with her story and was told she would be interviewed.

Since the resignations, she has heard nothing.

"I'm incredibly disappointed. For the first time I thought these issues would actually go somewhere."

Another woman, who wished to remain anonymous, went to the Glenn Inquiry with her daughter, who had been through a psychologically abusive marriage.

After the mass resignation she has received no updates from the inquiry.

"They've got all of this confidential information which they typed and recorded with our names, the ex-husband's name — everything."

Nicholas said the fact survivors had been kept in the dark was "inhumane".

"You can't do that to people who have been traumatised by horrific events in their life.

"It takes lots of courage for them to talk to people they do not know ... so at the end of the day, the inquiry needs to be open and honest. You've put it out there that you're going to make all these fantastic changes but you're required to support survivors to do so. Be upfront. What the hell is going on?"

Glenn Inquiry chief executive Kirsten Rei said in a statement she was concerned to hear of the frustrations.

"We made a genuine effort to contact people on our database who told us they wanted to be heard. Our first priority was to ensure this contact was undertaken with the safety of participants in mind.

"If anyone is feeling let down, the inquiry wants to put this right. The aim of the inquiry is too important to be overshadowed by a process matter."

It was hoped the inquiry's first report, the People's Report, would be completed in the next few months.

Rei encouraged anyone who took part, or tried to and needs more information, to email admin@glenninquiry.org.nz or phone 0800 787 848.

- Herald on Sunday

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