The Safer Waitaki model of engaging “wrap-around” services is the way forward for tackling family harm, two campaigners say.
Royal New Zealand Police College family harm training adviser Jude Simpson and It’s Not OK campaigner Jeremy Eparaima were in Oamaru last week to deliver a series of workshops on family harm for police and social services.
Family harm was “all-encompassing”, impacting families and communities, Ms Simpson said.
The best way to tackle it was by looking at the “bigger picture” and engaging a wide range of social services, she said.
“It’s not a neat and tidy issue, it’s grey and complex.”
Police had changed their terminology from “family violence” to “family harm”, to take into account the wider damage done, she said.
“Family violence makes you think about a violent act on one person, whereas we know the harm that can be done is widespread.
“If you look at the harm, it’s not just being done by intimate partners, it’s the ripple effect.”
While there was greater awareness of family harm, about 75% of cases still went unreported, she said.
“It’s a fine line; some of these perpetrators are scary people.
“But ring up [police], report it, don’t let it go.
“Go through the anonymous line.”
Safer Waitaki was leading the way in providing wrap-around services and support, she said.
Mr Eparaima has been through the cycle of family harm – from victim to perpetrator.
“I maintained that mantle for many years of my life until I met a woman who ran an anger management course,” he said.
“She enlightened me to the fact my whole life was domestic violence – it was the normalisation of those types of behaviours.”
His advice to others was to ask for help and be ready to accept it.
“They need to get to a place of understanding their behaviour and verbalisations are causing harm to those that they are supposed to love and protect.
“You have a feeling it’s not right . . . but you lack the skills and the tools or the role models to be able to operate any differently at that stage.”
Men should look out for their mates and not be afraid to call someone out on their behaviour, he said.
“I think the biggest thing to understand from anybody that wants to try and help someone is around timing.
“You are not going to be able to force [them] . . . it’s understanding that it is their time but you have got to keep trying to get that breakthrough.
“Don’t ever give up on anyone, and it’s never too late to change.”
Safer Waitaki co-ordinator Helen Algar said over the past five years, the organisation had developed an integrated approach to family harm, and the workshops were another way of strengthening the relationship between police and social services.
“All of these awareness-raising, educational forums are designed to build on that and strengthen those partnerships.”