Changeability manager Jeremy Logan. PHOTOS/FILE

Leading up to White Ribbon Day on Monday November 25, The Times-Age has spoken to organisations and people around the region who feel strongly about spreading the White Ribbon message and standing up against family violence. EMMA BROWN reports.

This year’s White Ribbon Day is about challenging the expectations that boys and young men inherit from society.

Clichés such as “boys don’t cry” and “toughen up” reinforce unhelpful stereotypes about what it is to be a man.

One organisation working to do away with unhelpful gender “rules” is ChangeAbility, a counselling and family violence prevention agency in Wairarapa.

Its manager Jeremy Logan said certain stereotypes exist silently in the background, “putting pressure on boys and young men to behave in certain ways”.

“The unspoken rules lead men and boys to thinking that they have to behave and feel certain ways, and this leads to unhealthy masculinity and rigid gender identities, which in turn is seen to be a major cause of family violence,” Logan said.

New Zealand has the highest rate of reported violence towards women in the developed world, and the third highest rate of sexual assault.

In 2016, New Zealand Police investigated 118,910 family violence incidences nationwide – that’s about one every five minutes and the total reported incidents are more than double the population of Wairarapa.

With less than 20 per cent of abuse cases reported, our real national statistics would equate to everyone in Wairarapa falling victim to family violence about 13 times each year.

Sergeant Richie Day, the officer in charge of Wairarapa Police’s Family Harm team.

According to Sergeant Richie Day, the officer in charge of Wairarapa Police’s Family Harm team, Wairarapa Police attends from 20 to 30 reports of family harm each week,

That’s from 1040 to 1560 family harm incidents each year.

“Our staff tend to see a surge in incidents of this nature during the summer months leading up to Christmas,” Day said.

“Both a lack of money and alcohol consumption remain factors in reported family harm incidents.

“There is a feeling in my team that there is definitely more of a willingness to report this behaviour and a better awareness around family harm not only from our victims but also family and friends who see this happening.

“In the past where this behaviour may have been tolerated, there is a clear positive turn due to the work across our nation and the many agencies, groups and individuals who are working to protect our vulnerable people.”

Day said Wairarapa Police was excited to have a new role in their team, a ‘perpetrator’ advocate who will be starting on Monday.

“This will not be a police officer and the position will be dealing solely with our offenders of family harm to guide and mentor them away from this behaviour in a hope to prevent further offending.”

This is the first of a five-part series sharing the White Ribbon message.

Up next: Ma Gaskin and Ronald Karaitiana.

#UnspokenRules

This year’s White Ribbon Day message is #UnspokenRules, promoting respectful relationships based on:

  • Equality between men and women: Gender equity in personal relationships and all social spheres, reduces violence against women.
  • Flexible gender behaviour for all: Having men breaking out of the ‘Man Box’ and choosing their own masculine identity prevents their use of violence.
  • Non-violent communication: Men being emotionally aware and expressive gives them alternatives to aggression.
  • Enthusiastic consent for all sexual activities: Having willing participation is crucial to preventing sexual violence.