Fighting domestic violence

The Government has announced to combat . They include:

  • Establishing a Chief Victims Advisor to the Minister of Justice to advise on the needs and views of victims of crime, including domestic violence victims.
  • Testing an intensive case management service to provide specialist support for domestic violence victims at high risk of serious harm or death. 
  • Establishing a nationwide home safety service to help victims who want to leave a violent relationship. The service will offer practical support such as safety planning, strengthening doors and windows and installing alarms.
  • Reviewing the Domestic Violence Act 1995 to ensure it keeps victims safe and holds offenders to account.
  • Exploring the possibility of a conviction disclosure scheme, which may allow a person to be told whether their partner has a history of violence.
  • Trialling mobile safety alarms with GPS technology for victims, so they can notify Police of an emergency, and their location.
  • Introduce legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed upon them.

I think the last one especially could make a real difference. What I would do is allow the person who has a protection order to be alerted (and the Police also) if a convicted offender who has a protection order gets within x hundred metres of their house.

The Government will also explore whether prosecutors should be able to invite the judge or jury to draw an adverse inference when a defendant refuses to give evidence in sexual violence cases. Current law only allows the defendant, the defendant’s lawyer or the Judge to comment on a defendant’s failure to give evidence.

I’m not in favour of having a different standard of rights for some criminal cases.

To remind us of how real domestic violence can be, former National MP Jackie Blue writes of her experiences:

Dr Blue’s experience began 31 years ago, when she was 27. She had just graduated and was working as a locum in Auckland surgeries.

She had had to repeat two years of her medical degree, partly because she had taken up bridge and was busy playing in tournaments.

“I felt I was the dumbest doctor in New Zealand,” she said. “I had low self-esteem, and I was probably overweight too, and I didn’t think I was attractive.”

She met a small business owner, nine years older, who “totally charmed me”.

“He made me feel quite special, put me on a pedestal,” she said. “I had never really had a long-term boyfriend at that stage. He was my boyfriend and I could say that, and he was reasonably presentable and reasonably sociable to the outside world, so you know, it was a good match.”

He gave her jewellery and other gifts. He moved into her home and gave her a blue sapphire engagement ring.

But his business was struggling.

“If anything, I supported him,” Dr Blue said. “I paid the groceries and things like that. He didn’t pay any rent.”

He took bridge lessons, but he didn’t like it and he made her stop playing too.

That is probably the first warning sign. It is very common for abusers to try and control their partner’s lifes, and only have them do activities they are involved with. Their aim is to make them dependent on you. People should bail out at this early stage, if their partner is controlling like that.

“So I moved away from the bridge circle of friends that I had,” she said. “His friends became my friends.”

Another classic sign, sadly.

After a few months they visited Napier to stay with Dr Blue’s sister and her husband, a doctor. “They had one of those really big old homes,” Dr Blue said. “They had a lot of antique furniture, really nice stuff, so the place looked really opulent.

“We were in bed on one of those evenings and I was talking, and he just bashed me on the side of the head for no reason. He clearly felt really threatened by the surroundings.”

It’s very sad what happened to Jackie (and many others). I also feel a bit sad for the guy that he is so threatened by success, that he resorts to violence to cover up his own inadequacies.

He started putting her down with comments like: “You’re fat and ugly and you’ll never have children.” 

This is also a very sad and common warning sign. Their aim is to make you feel you’ll never get anyone else, and so will tolerate them bashing you.

The breaking point was a barbecue where people asked Dr Blue about her job. “They were just asking about the work I did and they were quite interested, interested in me,” she said.

“On the way home we were driving into the carport, he picked a fight, I was driving, and he just bashed me on the side of my face quite a few times.

“I walked in and told him to clear out, bugger off. I phoned the police.”

He left. Police came promptly, but she decided not to lay charges. “I just wanted the whole thing finished.”

He tried to revive it, ringing her and sending flowers to the Herne Bay surgery where she had become a partner. But he got nowhere and eventually moved to Australia.

Just weeks after the relationship ended, Dr Blue met the man who is now her husband. 

A happy ending for Jackie, but many others end in death.

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