Potentially many deaths by a thousand cuts

One of my first media releases as an MP, in December last year, was in defense of the Auckland Sexual Abuse 24 hour phone line.

Since then, I have asked questions of the Government in response to the loss of funding to Wellington Rape Crisis; the lack of systems to enable women, on the DPB, who are leaving violent relationships to access the exemption from work testing; the safety from sexual assault for transgender prisoners; the loss of funding to women’s refuge; the shelving of the review of pre-trial and trial processes for victims of sexual assault that mean only 13% of complaints result in conviction;s, and now again I’m asking about the loss of funding to Auckland Sexual Abuse Help Services.

I spoke to Louise Nicholas about the helpline last week and she’d just that week, spoken to a woman, in the middle of the night who was in that terrible stage of healing where she’d lost hope and was suicidal. It is no exaggeration to say the 24 help line saves lives.  It is no exaggeration to say the system as it is now is costing us all dearly.

Sadly in almost every single case the Minister has shared my concern – and done nothing.

I’m not happy with just keeping Mike Tyson out of the country, or temporary solutions when the spotlight comes on. We need long term sustainable solutions that provide the services that victims need to heal.

http://www.greens.org.nz/video/55000-peanuts

Sexual abuse can destroy lives. Every survivor deserves the right help.

17 Comments Posted

  1. Michael – again, it’s you stereo-typing “these sorts of women…” and assuming I don’t have any empathy for abusers.

    This is a Paula Bennett style response. Answer a faux-question/point that was not raised to try and re-frame the discussion to suit your agenda. It should be noted I did not stereo-type anyone. You may have my post confused with someone else? I raised a serious point about a segment of the 360 degrees of this issue and asked you to respond to that point, which so far you have not done. If you don’t know what you intend to do about it, that is fine if you say so.

    Sadly in almost every single case the Minister has shared my concern – and done nothing.

    But to criticise other politicians while being short on tangible alternatives is just politicking.

  2. Michael – again, it’s you stereo-typing “these sorts of women…” and assuming I don’t have any empathy for abusers.

    There is no one type of victim. fullstop.

    I’m very well aware of cycles of abuse and that is one of the reasons I’m passionate about restorative justice and services for victims. Accountability is important and so are services and support. I have seen it make a difference.

    Shundra – thanks for engaging with this. Your comments remind me of of a comment made by a counsellor, at Auckland HELP Centre’s 30th birthday last week, about how the work changes your view of the world – because there is no way to unknow the prevalence of abuse after working with it directly, and there is no way to unknow those stories. This does create a different world view. This is about politics in small part,in larger part research, but for me it is as much about having stood beside hundreds of women in crisis.

    So when you focus on the victim and needing to change the victim I hear echoes of the abuser’s ongoing sense of entitlement to tell his(her) partner what she needs to do to make things better. And I hear echoes of the culture that blames the victim that reinforces his(her) message and effectively enables ongoing abuse.

    SPC – Yes! Though I’m all good with immidiate bandaids if they’ll stick too.

  3. Oh the irony, some people want to “eliminate some of the causes”, thus do more than National who just want to

    a. identify the problem
    b. cut funding to NGO’s responding to abuse

    – but they oppose any attempt to confront National over this or alleviate poverty.

    a. passing on the In Work tax credit (and leave a higher minimum wage to provide the incentive to work)
    b. food in poor area schools
    c. required insulation in rental poverty

    Apparently the concern for the undeserving amongst the poor means they should all remain so – parent and child alike. Thus the tacit approval for National’s approach, via criticism of any alternative, as not demanding the poor prove themselves worthy of what help they already receive.

    Apparently the only causes they want to eliminate are those derived by the behaviour of some of the parents of the poor. Meaning that many other poor parents, who do well enough with what they have, will be left to continue as they are. And in choosing a course that leaves their children to their poverty, there is a tolerance for this poverty continuing (that often results in the declaration that there is worse poverty overseas in countries outside the first world).

    The underlying meme, complain about poverty and there will be an examination of whether the person is worthy of what help they receive now – as Paula Bennett displayed when leaking information about beneficiaries a few years back.

  4. I am very serious about this. We clash on how we view the world Jan, but in a sense you are the most interesting ‘Green’ for me for this reason. I also think in broad terms we are recogising the same problems, but when it comes to solutions, I just don’t understand your perspective.

    It’s called the hippie peacenik plan to save the world and it is one that ideologically conflicts me too. In our little peaceful left wing cliques we have all the answers to achieve our utopian messianic vision, except for one um… hiccup – not everyone else shares our vision and ideals. Furthermore some of the people who oppose us are not capitalist pigs, but those at the bottom of society. I am now 32 and have been involved in some ideological pursuit since a young teen. As much as I have stayed true to most of my ideals and not sold out – I also have the unfortunate realisation that a bit of selfishness is a worthwhile thing and the great social plan must be implemented in our own immediate back yards and within small groups of like minded people. There are some people who can’t be helped and are best left to the consequences of their own choices. As much as I am a radical there is a few areas I had to become centerist (may even look right wing to some) because my experience tells me this is the cold hard reality.

  5. Shunda I’m not even sure if I should engage as I’m not sure if you can be serious.

    I am very serious about this. We clash on how we view the world Jan, but in a sense you are the most interesting ‘Green’ for me for this reason. I also think in broad terms we are recogising the same problems, but when it comes to solutions, I just don’t understand your perspective.

    The victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence do not need “tough love” many of them will have been getting what they’ve been told is tough love for far too long.

    I think your definition of tough love is different to mine. Tough love to me is doing what needs to be done to get someone out of a bad place even if it means hurting their feelings and making them uncomfortable. Another word for tough love is ‘leadership’.

    They need to be believed and they need specialist services to help them recover and the time and support to actually do that very difficult work.

    Absolutely, but wouldn’t it be better to eliminate some of the causes for this happening in the first place? I can see a ‘culture’ that has emerged, particularly from welfare abuse, that goes hand in hand with just about every other kind of abuse.

    By raising the bar and displacing ‘behavior’ we will solve many of these issues by default, we can help people with “tough love” and give them a better chance for the rest of their life, but most importantly, their children’s lives as well.

  6. because women are far more likely to be victims and the violence reinforces certain gendered power relationships.

    Making reference to this particular area – where perpetrator and victim know each other – I can attest that the sort of women that end up in these relationships – myself and others can warn them until we are blue in the face – and they won’t listen. Some even pursue these sorts of relationships. Before I wised up I spent countless hours (and then some) fulfilling a sort of GBF type friendship with several different dysfunctional females over the years… I know of someone else who also has a large group of dysfunctional females around him. Exact same story. Can’t get any sense in. What makes you think they will listen to you? Even more potentially confounding – what are you going to do about dysfunctional relationships where both parties play the role of perpetrator and victim? Also – Often the most reviled perpetrators were once victims. This is the real world outside of the privileged left wing elite who vote the Green Party (myself included to be frank). There is a whole lot of people in society who live a totally different lifestyle and mentality to you, I and the other contributors here. These instances far outnumber the “black and white” cases. The B&W cases are the easy ones to moralise on – we’d all like to give the perpetrator a piece of our mind (and then some)… but looking at whole 360 view there is this big grey area I am referring to. If you think you can solve this (without becoming fascist), good luck. But I must respectfully differ with you on your criticism of other politicians on this issue. Who knows? One day you might end up blessed with their portfolio.

  7. Michael, it’s interesting that you say I’m framing this as a women’s issue.
    I have, and will continue to, acknowledge male victims of sexual abuse. As a country we certainly need to start talking about the abuse of boys and men, in the same way we need to acknowledge the probable disproportionate abuse of people with disabilities and transgender people.

    When I put sexual violence in a wider context I do see it as a women’s issue because women are far more likely to be victims and the violence reinforces certain gendered power relationships. This is a widely understood analysis, not at all exclusive to me.

  8. I will add to the above and say that I find your constant (and overt) framing of every pet cause as a “women’s” issue as suggestive of mere ideology and lack of perspective. I have personally been a victim myself and I know of 2 other men who have also been when younger. Could you please level with us about what your agenda and experience really is?

  9. Shunda I’m not even sure if I should engage as I’m not sure if you can be serious. The victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence do not need “tough love” many of them will have been getting what they’ve been told is tough love for far too long.

    … and your response to Shunda is quite dismissive (for no reason) Jan Logie. This bleeding heart “can do no wrong” is at odds with what I have seen plenty first hand of real life and that is there is little black, little white and a lot of grey in these areas.

  10. Yes SPC, and it’s really important to note too that Government is actively streamlining their services and asking the community sector to pick up the work – while they reduce their funding. As an example, CYFS already refer 2/3rds of their cases on to community organisations.

    Shunda I’m not even sure if I should engage as I’m not sure if you can be serious. The victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence do not need “tough love” many of them will have been getting what they’ve been told is tough love for far too long. They need to be believed and they need specialist services to help them recover and the time and support to actually do that very difficult work.

  11. It’s surprising that the government is more focused on an ambulance system (linking reporting across agencies) rather than preventative measures, yet also seems reluctant to commit resources to private groups/NGO’s also responding to the needs of at risk people.

    It’s as if they want to be seen taking action, yet do not want to do anything that might interrupt a primary focus on reducing government spending.

    Thus is inconsistent with an investment approach to producing a more productive work force (educated and raised in safe and secure healthy homes) in the next generation.

  12. It’s very hard to envisage the scenario where you’re having to break someone’s arm to save them from falling off a cliff.

    No it isn’t.

    Sometimes when shit happens other shit has to happen.

  13. The death of a thousand cuts is the National party’s modus-operandi. It’s based on the (quite accurate) assessment that most people don’t give a damn. Having helped my Mother with animal rescue on many occasions I can attest to the level of apathy and “couldn’t care less” in society.

  14. It’s very hard to envisage the scenario where you’re having to break someone’s arm to save them from falling off a cliff.
    I’ll keep trying though…
    *squints eyes, tightens envisaging muscles…

  15. however, we shouldn’t expect them to commit to do anything that will actually make a difference (except perhaps if it makes things worse, like cutting benefits).

    Hmmmm.

    Perhaps some tough love is required to help people take responsibility for their lives and encourage them to participate in society in a way that is sustainable for them and their children.

    Perhaps displacing ‘behavior’ is not actually displacing ‘people’, perhaps raising the bar is preferable to the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

    You guys seem stuck on one side of the argument. I once thought you had sinister intent and were only driven by other motives, but now I see that you probably do care. I just can’t understand why you want people to stay in such miserable circumstances and enable such destructive and dysfunctional lifestyles.

    Sometimes you actually have to break someones arm to save them from falling off a cliff.

  16. I get the feeling that National want to identify every child who is supposedly failing in school, identify every child who is being abused and identify the fact that domestic abuse and rape is a serious concern, however, we shouldn’t expect them to commit to do anything that will actually make a difference (except perhaps if it makes things worse, like cutting benefits).

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