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Family violence not bound by socio-economic status

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

This week IT’S NOT OK launched a unique campaign to put the spotlight on family violence occurring in high socio-economic households in New Zealand.

Recently released statistics from the New Zealand Violence Against Women Study revealed that family violence is prevalent in the wealthier suburbs in our communities, which are less often publicised in the media. To raise awareness of this issue, IT’S NOT OK partnered with HOME magazine to create something totally unexpected in the pages of a glossy HOME magazine.

Dr Ang Jury, Chief Executive of Women’s Refuge and partner of IT’S NOT OK, says, "We have responded to the needs of millionaires, academics and a great many other highly qualified and educated women. Domestic violence knows no boundaries and having a chance to highlight this in HOME is a good start."

"Everyone knows that family violence is a serious issue, but most people presume it’s something that affects certain families. But in reality, family violence happens in any New Zealand home, regardless of socio-economic background. That’s why, in our new issue, HOME is working with IT’S NOT OK to remind our readers that family violence can affect any household - and if it does, there’s something all of us can do about it," says Jeremy Hansen, editor of HOME magazine.

The magazine feature presents itself like any other editorial - an architecturally designed home, found in the wealthy, leafy suburbs and owned by a normal looking couple. But all is not as it seems. Within the six-page spread is an up-turned chair, smashed vases and a blood smeared banister. The editorial concludes with an important message: family violence can happen in any home. Last year alone, police made more than 100,000 family violence investigations across the country, in every kind of neighbourhood.

Jill Proudfoot, client services director at anti-violence group Shine, a partner of IT’S NOT OK, says, "I’ve encountered many women living in beautiful homes who were feeling suicidal because they couldn’t see a way to escape the abuse. If their abusive partner holds a position of power in the community, it’s even harder to leave and to be believed. A lot of these women considered leaving their homes to be too great a risk to their family. Their loyalty often makes them put their partner’s reputation ahead of their own safety.

"In contrast, some women I’ve seen from lower socio-economic areas arrive at a refuge and immediately feel safer. For some, it’s the warmest, nicest home they’ve ever lived in. The issues are different for each group, but the fear and distress is just as real."

Murray Edridge, Deputy Chief Executive Community Investment Ministry of Social Development, explains that in some cases, the signs may be subtle and it won’t always be about broken furniture, it could come in the form of financial abuse or controlling what someone wears, who they see and where they go.

"Nigella Lawson and Reeva Steenkamp have drawn international attention to the fact the domestic violence can happen to anyone including millionaire chefs and models and New Zealand is no different.

"Domestic violence in its many different forms happens in Remuera, as well as South Auckland, as well as Invercargill, and we all need to take action to stop it when we know it is happening.

"Whatever form it takes family violence is never OK but it is OK to ask for help and to offer help," concludes Edridge.

For more information on this campaign please visit: www.areyouok.org.nz

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