Central Leader : April 8th 2011
12 CENTRAL LEADER, APRIL 8, 2011 NEWS Get more online News that you can Read, Hear & Watch! FREE More and more people are turning to our online editions everyday! Packed with extra features like video, audio, weblinks, galleries, your news and competitions, they're the ultimate multimedia experience. Just click on "Latest Edition" at www.centralleader.co.nz www.centralleader.co.nz Shine throws light on how it can end family violence The fact that domestic violence is widespread in New Zealand is no secret. Reporter Sarah Moyes speaks to two volunteers who help victims of abuse see a light at the end of the tunnel. Dark reality: Shine volunteer Chand Guthrie has seen some dramatic situations over the last two years. She is passionate about helping women and children. Photos: JASON DORDAY ' She thought she would die without him. The fact of the matter was, if she didn't leave it was going to be the other way around. She was going to die anyway. ' -- Volunteer Chand Guthrie Safety first: Zita Tuffley has been a volunteer for Shine since 2001. She is committed to making sure her clients feel safe in their own homes. Deep fingernail scratches covered the woman's face. Missing clumps of hair exposed open sores on her scalp. This poor girl, she just couldn't even walk,'' Chand Guthrie says. Mrs Guthrie helped the 24-year-old woman into her car. It took 10 minutes for her to get comfortable because her knee was so swollen. She was in so much agony but she apologised that she hadn't brushed her hair because she said her scalp was full of sores.'' It had taken a long time to arrange this meeting, they couldn't meet at the woman's home for fear of who could find out. The odd thing about it was she was not really willing to help herself.'' Mrs Guthrie is a volunteer advocate for Shine, an organis- ation that supports women and children affected by family viol- ence. She vividly remembers the details of this one particular case. Fingernail scars covered the young woman's body, but she still could not leave the man who did this to her. That one human being can do that to another human being, it was very sad,'' Mrs Guthrie says. The woman had been married but fell in love with another man and left her husband for him. She was so madly in love that she thought she would die without him. The fact of the matter was, if she didn't leave it was going to be the other way around. She was going to die anyway.'' Mrs Guthrie was there to support this victim. She was there to listen, not judge or tell her what to do. It is quite hard, when people have their minds set. But she was one of those people who wasn't ready to change.'' Shine volunteers deal with cases like this all the time. Mrs Guthrie has seen all sorts of situations since becoming a vol- unteer two years ago. I was looking for something to do. What they offer seemed to be in line with what I wanted to do.'' The Papatoetoe resident has always wanted to help people, particularly women and chil- dren. As a Shine volunteer, the psy- chology student gets to do exactly this. Volunteers who are on call get referrals from police saying a domestic violence offender has been arrested. After finding out all the necessary information, it is up to the volunteers to decide whether the women and chil- dren involved need support and a safety plan. We get the phone call from police. During the day I go out on my own, but during the night there's two of us, we go in pairs,'' senior call out advocate Zita Tuffley says. What I like to do is briefly inform my number two where we are going and what we are dealing with.'' Ms Tuffley of Herne Bay has been a call out volunteer for Shine since February 2001. Back then the organisation was still called the Domestic Viol- ence Centre, before becoming Preventing Violence in the Home and now Shine. Because I've been around such a long time, if I can get there I can usually get in the door. That's just experience.'' The most important thing for the volunteers to do is to address the woman's immediate safety needs and refer the chil- dren to Kid Shine. You walk into the female's house, she has about three or four children. The tricky ones are where they don't have any support,'' Ms Tuffley says. Refuge is like a last resort because they get full pretty quickly. Then it's just a matter of assessing her needs and get- ting the day time staff to follow up the next day. The main thing is that there is support.'' Ms Tuffley says the good thing about going into these women's homes as a volunteer is that she is their equal. Once they get comfortable around you they open up, and by asking the right questions you'll get the answers most of the time. The high levels of family viol- ence statistics reported around the country comes to no sur- prise for most New Zealanders. Campaigns like It's Not Ok have alerted the nation to the reality of what's happening behind closed doors. According to the It's Not OK campaign, one in three women in New Zealand will experience physical or sexual violence from a partner in their lifetime. Police recorded more than 86,500 family violence incidents and offences in 2008. On aver- age police are called to around 200 domestic violence situations a day. Domestic abuse happens in many ways, it's not always just physical. There is the emotional abuse of being put down or told they're stupid, threats to hurt them or their children, isolation from friends and family as well as economic abuse. Mrs Guthrie says some women deal with both physical and mental torment. Other times you find the women sort of beat themselves up more because they feel they're not worthy of anything better. So rather than someone else doing it to them, perhaps they get to a stage that they start believing the offender and they start doing it to themselves.'' Although many of the clients Mrs Guthrie meets struggle to overcome the violence they've experienced, she says there are some good results that come from her visits. Because the bad ones are really bad they sort of stay with you more than the good ones.'' Before becoming a Shine vol- unteer she remembers helping a friend who she had suspected was being abused by her hus- band. I knew she was getting abused because I could see all the signs, but the thing was I didn't really want to ask.'' When the friend came to her with a black eye, claiming she had walked into a door, Mrs Guthrie knew something was not right. I had the guts to say: Your husband's been beating you up, aye?' She said: Oh no, I walked into the door' but her voice changed. She sat down and she just cried and cried like never before. The reason she couldn't do anything was because of cul- ture, she was scared and embarrassed. She was scared her people would laugh at her.'' In the end Mrs Guthrie's friend got herself and her kids away from her husband. I'm very proud that she took that step and made her life for her and her children.'' Mrs Guthrie knows she can't save the world, but if she can help save someone in some way it will all be worth it. A lot of people are really keen to give their advice all the time. If you just make people comfortable, just sit and listen. We go to people's houses, most people don't want any- thing from us, they just want someone to listen.'' Shine is committed to doing what works to help stop dom- estic violence. The 50 volunteers who work for the organisation attend about 300 after hours call outs a year. If you are worried about a friend or family member being involved in an abusive relationship call the Shine helpline staff on 0508-744-633.
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