For all our beautiful landscapes and belief that we are a peaceful society, New Zealand remains an angry country.
And that’s why, every year, November 25 is celebrated as White Ribbon Day – the pinnacle of a month-long drive to raise awareness and provide a call-to-action to end violence against women.
According to figures quoted by whiteribbon.org.nz:
- One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives
- Less than 20 percent of abuse cases are reported
- More than 3,500 convictions are recorded against men each year for assaults on women
- On average, 14 women a year are killed by their partners or ex-partners
- Police attend a family violence incident every 5 ½ minutes
- Family violence accounts for half of all reported serious crime
- In 2013 police recorded 95,101 family violence instigations
- In 2014 police responded to over 100,000 family violence incidents
That gives New Zealand the unwelcome record of having the highest rate of domestic violence in the developed world – something which White Ribbon uses to galvanise support for its annual appeal.
Although The White Ribbon Campaign has its roots in the early 1990s when it was started in Canada, the United Nations officially recognised November 25 as the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1999 and introduced it to New Zealand in 2004 through the UN’s Development Fund for Women.
Over recent years the campaign has grown to include dozens of ambassadors who speak throughout the country, it has received backing from national organisations such as New Zealand Football, it now distributes hundreds of thousands of white ribbons through the country, and it urges men to take a pledge to “never commit, condone or remain silent”.
2015’s focus is on the issue of sexual violence and the issue of consent – and there are dozens of events being run throughout both islands from Ashburton to Whakatane to ensure that the message gets through.
Spreading the message that New Zealand isn’t going to stand for its insidious streak of domestic violence, though, is only half the message. The second part is doing something about it.
Anger is born of many influences – it can be inherited from watching older family members; it can come from failing to empathise with other people’s emotions; it can come from not being able to handle the stresses and strains which life throws at us; and it can be amplified by addiction – whether to alcohol, drugs, gambling or any other unhealthy lifestyles.
Although the first step towards beating violence – especially sexual violence and the issue of consent, highlighted by the 2015 White Ribbon Campaign – is being aware of how and where it occurs in society, it’s also important that those affected work to tackle the underlying causes of their anger and why they resort to violence.
Robert Street Clinic works with men with anger issues as well as having specialist couples and addictions therapists. For more information about the individual skills of our psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 09 973 5950, or contact us via the website.