Ben Roe, ChangeAbility manager Jeremy Logan, Green MP Jan Logie, and Wairarapa Green Party advocate John Hart. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND
Police are called to attend domestic violence incidents every four minutes in New Zealand.
And according to ChangeAbility manager Jeremy Logan, there are about 20 to 30 domestic violence callouts each week in Wairarapa.
Logan was one of four panellists in a discussion about the recently passed Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill last Friday night in Masterton.
The bill was initiated by Green MP Jan Logie who was also on the panel, along with Green Party advocate John Hart, and Ben Roe, who has attended as a participant in a non-violence programme with ChangeAbility.
The Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill passed its third reading in Parliament in July with it passing 63 votes to 57 (Labour, NZ First, and the Greens supported the bill, National and ACT were opposed).
The new law, which will come into force on April 1, 2019, requires employers to give victims of domestic violence up to 10 days leave from work, separate from annual leave and sick leave entitlements.
It also allows domestic violence victims the opportunity to request flexible working arrangements.
Logie said the bill represents a new approach and in her work with the bill, many victims had come forward to share their stories with her.
A “heartbreaking” submission was from a nurse.
“There had been ongoing violence and she was using her leave to manage it.
“She had two kids and her partner had raped and beaten her and a family member came to get her out.
“She wasn’t in a position to go back to work but didn’t have any more leave.
“She called her employer and her employer said she should go find another job. No unpaid leave, nothing.”
Logie said she had also supported another woman who had left her abusive partner and whose employer would not relocate her to another worksite.
“She needed her job, but [her ex-partner] knew where she worked, he knew her hours of work, and she was absolutely a sitting duck.
“He had people out looking for her.
“I remember calling her – I drove her to work that night . . . we were both scared.
“She ended up going back to him the next day because at least she knew where he was in the house when she was there.
“She actually felt like she had more ability to manage her and her children’s safety in the house with him than she did leaving.
“Women are more likely to be murdered six months after leaving, so she was right.
“But if that employer had changed her location and adjusted, she wouldn’t have been the sitting duck that she was.”
ChangeAbility manager Jeremy Logan said in his 20 years working with victims of family violence, he had seen an increase in self-referring men.
“Most of the men we are talking about, they don’t want to harm their partners or have their children witnessing the violence.”
Fellow panellist Ben Roe has been through courses at ChangeAbility in Masterton and is in the process of becoming a programme facilitator.
“I was never physical, but you don’t have to be physical to be violent,” he said.
He described himself as “a nice guy, a great dad, a good husband, and a good friend”.
Through the course, he identified there were triggers that sent him into a spiral of “anger and rage” — “my brain starts to go quick, I’m getting hot, and I can feel myself getting short with people”.
He said, now that he had the tools and was able to better understand his emotions, he and his family were in a better place.
He said he now will often go off by himself for a few minutes to “just breathe”.
“It’s like my whole day is now different now because I took that time out to recognise what was going on.
“The course was incredibly life-changing.
“It saved my marriage, which in turn is going to keep my family together which means my children are going to grow up with a mum and dad which is a great thing.”
John Hart said there was a huge need for social and cultural change in New Zealand if there was to be an improvement in family relationships.
He was proud to be a supporter of the Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill.