Statement on Domestic Violence
Media Statement on Domestic Violence– Christine Low, National President, National Council Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ)
When our celebrities commit crimes commonly believed to only happen to the less privileged and educated, the public rapidly becomes polarised on how to respond.
In trying to understand this behaviour, the community is beginning to ask the question what provoked the resulting assault. Unfortunately, focus will turn towards the victim.
However, we have to ask ourselves if any degree of provocation justifies physical harm?
A survey on low-level domestic violence reported earlier this year by one New Zealand newspaper cited women annoying their male partner verbally; ‘nagging’, as the basis for most low level violent reactions.
An incident of a perceived infidelity by the female partner of one celebrity enraged him to the extent of lashing out violently. The judge in that case felt that this reaction was “human and understandable”; not dissimilar to legal interpretation under the French law on a ‘crime of passion’. A follow-up TV 3 poll found that “the public believed negative publicity was a sufficient punishment” in this case.
There is no question that Wednesday afternoon’s admission from television and radio presenter, Tony Veitch of his assault on his former partner two years ago has given the prevalence of domestic violence a much higher profile than the on-going media campaign has been able to do.
Women’s organisations have been concerned for some time that domestic violence extends well beyond the less privileged groups. Figures show that domestic violence also occurs in all socio-economic groups - our presumption as a nation is wrong.
For many women who are presumed to be educated and privileged, there is resistance to making public their experience of domestic violence. For them, it is an admission of failure in a critical area of their life.
What should women and men do?
It is vital that both men and women recognise that, if violence is occurring within their relationship, there are services in the community, like professional counselling and Relationship Services to help deal and resolve the issues before they escalate.
Own the choices you make.
Most importantly though, it is critical that the person exercising violence in a relationship take responsibility for their own actions without using excuses to diminish themselves from their behaviour. If people own up to their actions, it is easier to seek the help that is needed to eliminate this kind of behaviour from their lives and those of others around them.