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Oscar Pistorius trial highlights issue of domestic abuse

Media Release from Shine (Safer Homes in New Zealand Everyday)

12 September 2014

Oscar Pistorius trial highlights issue of domestic abuse

In the wake of the Oscar Pistorius trial, it is vital for the public to understand some facts about domestic abuse:
Domestic abuse cuts across demographics and cultures. It happens to and is perpetrated by the rich and poor, and in every country and ethnic group.

Controlling and jealous behaviour is a classic sign of abuse. There were reports of Pistorius showing possessive and jealous behaviour towards Reeva Steenkamp. The fact that he was also charming and loving to her does not negate the probability of abuse in the relationship, as in most abusive relationships the perpetrator has ‘Jekyl and Hyde’ behaviour. Perpetrators will often keep the violence private so that the public, and even close friends and family, will often believe that he is nothing but charming.

While violence is a very effective way to control someone’s behaviour within a relationship, victims often report that, in the long term, psychological abuse is more damaging and harder to recover from.

While any level of domestic abuse is unacceptable, when abuse is suspected, friends, family and others around the couple should be on the lookout for signs that there the victim is in great danger of being killed. Two of these signs that are relevant to Pistorius are:
• Use of firearms, especially when the perpetrator has training and experience in using them
• History of violence, especially public violence as this may mean the perpetrator is not deterred by the risk of arrest, and also domestic violence, as past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. A South African Police spokesperson said that there had previous domestic violence reports at Oscar’s home. He was arrested in 2009 for physically assaulting a 19-year-old girl at his house.

The fact that Reeva campaigned publicly against domestic violence does not mean that she was not also a victim of abuse. Many strong women, sometimes in powerful positions, and sometimes famous, have disclosed being victims of abuse. Sometimes it is harder for women in these situations to come forward because of shame and embarrassment, and the risk of losing their status.

Help is available. Shine’s Helpline 0508-744-633 operates seven days a week, from 9am to 11pm.

Shine makes New Zealand homes violence free. We are a leading national agency providing a range of specialist services and programmes all aimed at assisting victims of domestic abuse to become safer and preferably remain in their own home. Our national tollfree Helpline is 0508 744 633.

ENDS

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