Stop the Hate: Men lead charge to end violence

By Kristin Macfarlane

The Daily Post has launched a campaign to take a stand against bullying in our city. Stop The Hate has been running over the past few weeks looking at bullying, bullies and their victims. Today, we look at White Ribbon and what it stands for.

White Ribbon is a campaign which is all about stamping out bullying - particularly of women by men.

The White Ribbon Campaign is led by men, for men. It's about changing attitudes and behaviours around men's violence towards women - it's not about finger-pointing or blame.

The key messages for White Ribbon are simple. They include that violence towards women is unacceptable, that violence is not just physical, that men are part of the solution and that you can help fix the problem.

As part of the annual month-long campaign, the White Ribbon Riders will roar into Rotorua at 10am to promote an end to violence towards women.

The riders will arrive at the Lakefront Village Green and Rotorua residents will have the opportunity to meet and chat to them.

To mark the campaign in the city, there will be a free family fun day celebration with the opportunity to check out the bikes and hear speeches from Mayor Kevin Winters, MP for Waiariki Te Ururoa Flavell and other community organisations.

The nine-day motorcycle ride throughout the country is a key White Ribbon project organised by the Families Commission to encourage men to take action and end unacceptable levels of violence towards women.

Aaron Morrison of the Patriots said they were looking forward to getting out on to the road to continue spreading the White Ribbon message.

"We know that men want to live non-violent lives but sometimes they need to be shown how. It's no different from bringing up your own children - they learn by watching their parents. We hope to talk directly to those men who want to stand up and lead a movement of non-violence," he said.

It wasn't easy for men who were abusive to make changes to their lives.

"To achieve this you need the support of your mates and your family. By talking about our own experiences (both violent and peaceful) we want to help all men accept that it's our responsibility to end this violence and give them some tools to bring about change. No one, especially women and children, should have to experience violence," Mr Morrison said.

This year the riders will include messages about non-physical violence.

Families Commission White Ribbon campaign manager Rob McCann said most men understood how wrong it was to use their fists but the effects of non-physical violence or bullying were less well understood.

"Non-physical violence can leave scars which no one can see, and that affect your whole personality. It's hard to comprehend that violence can have that effect, but women will tell you, bruises and bones can heal while the effects of fear can last a lifetime," Mr McCann said.

"Non-physical violence is about manipulation and coercion and affects your emotions and personality, rather than your body. Women who suffer emotional abuse can feel like they are going mad, can be very frightened and feel like they have no choices. Add to this they are often made to feel like it's their fault. We want men to understand how devastating non-physical violence can be and ensure they do not remain silent when witnessing such behaviour.

"Survivors say psychological abuse attacks their spirit and self-esteem, and the effects can last the longest.

"Perpetrators may threaten victims, children, possessions and animals. This violence can affect your emotions, your personality, and may lead to poor health."

The White Ribbon campaign is a meld of the White Ribbon Day movement in Canada and the United Nations International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is celebrated on November 25 each year.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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