The Abuse Prevention Services clinical team, from left, Milly Darling, Suzanne Stewart, Alex Morgan-Murray and Liz Cole.
Many people hear the term domestic violence or abuse and imagine the perpetrator to be low income and under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, while that can and does happen, abuse covers a much wider spectrum than that, according to Rodney-wide support body Abuse Prevention Services.
Clinical manager Liz Cole says abuse is often more about power and control, and it is something that affects all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and suburbs – it’s not just a social-economic issue.
“Just because you’re rich, doesn’t mean you’re immune. There are a lot of narcissistic, dangerous men with money out there. But poverty does increase stress, which can increase family violence,” she says.
“And it’s not just physical. It’s someone trying to control you or isolate you – cutting you off from family and friends, or checking all your movements.”
It can also include using mind games, intimidation, put downs or threats, often using children as a “weapon”, or taking all the financial decisions and controlling any income.
Liz says male privilege, along with an inherent threat of violence, often holds family abuse in place.
“Just being drunk isn’t why it happens. Why do these people abuse and control their family, but nobody else? It’s the idea that they’re king of the castle,” she says.
Abuse Prevention runs a number of regular one-on-one and group programmes to support women, children and men who want to break free from or positively change abusive behaviour – for both victims and perpetrators – in and around Wellsford, Warkworth, Helensville, Orewa and the Hibiscus Coast.
The focus is on creating respectful, healthy relationships, knowing how to recognise the danger signs and supporting women to make their own choices.
However, the team of clinical workers and support staff, which relies on limited core funding from the Ministries of Justice and Social Development, is in need of help itself, to find more affordable premises to offer its services.
“Funding is incredibly tight, we’re always looking for backing,” Liz says. “We work well above what we get, usually 100 per cent over – at least half our work is unfunded.”
The group is hoping that local businesses or individuals might have a room the group could use for one-on-one sessions with women, child and youth clients, especially in Warkworth, where they are currently having to pay full counselling room rates.
Liz says the impact of family abuse of all kinds takes a huge toll on women and children and Abuse Prevention wants to keep being able to help everyone who needs it.
“We want women to come to us regardless of whether they think it’s ‘bad enough’. Just ring us and have a chat, and if we’re not the right place, we’ll help you find the right place and walk with you,” she says.
Currently working from an office in Orewa, Abuse Prevention Services would also like to find a more visible HQ in future.
Anyone who might have a room Abuse Prevention could use can contact Liz Cole on 021 545975 or email firstname.lastname@example.org