Book Gives Hope for Change - 27 March 2012

"I was carrying out a support visit recently. The incident report told me that a woman had called the Police during an argument with her partner. When the Police arrived the woman was the ‘worse for wear' from alcohol, but the man was sober and co-operative.

It's always a journey into the unknown, to knock on the door of a house and offer support because of a Police callout to family violence. Sometimes the reception is extremely welcoming:

  • thank goodness you've come, I'm at my wits end, I don't know where to turn
  • sometimes the person at the door is cautious and guarded: ‘how did you find out about this incident?' 
  • and other times the knock on the door is not welcomed at all.

The young woman who answered the door on this occasion was a little bit guarded. I explained to her that I was from a community support agency, and that we make courtesy calls to all families where the police have been called for any reason whatsoever. I told her that the whole idea was to break the cycle of violence, especially for children.

As soon as I said ‘break the cycle of violence for children' her expression changed. She said how she wanted to do that too. She told me her story of growing up in a violent household, with lots of alcohol abuse, and how she'd got involved with a partner who was also violent. She had two children and wasn't happy that they were growing up in the same conditions that she had, with drunkenness and fighting a regular part of this.

She said that being raised in a violent home she knew at the time that it wasn't OK. However, what she didn't know was whether it was possible for change to occur. Her idea was that ‘this was how life worked', until she saw a book that was produced with people's stories of change in it at the local library.

The book was It's Time We Started Telling These Stories, published by the It's not OK Campaign. It was reading these stories that gave her hope. She recognized herself and her own story, and that people who had been through the same experiences had been able to change. It was the SHARING OF EXPERIENCES OF HARDSHIP AND CHANGE that made the difference for her. After she'd read how another person had been able to leave violence behind she resolved that she would do this for her children.

After lots of crying she made a decision to take her children away from the violence. So she packed up and left her violent partner and moved to another town for a new start. She'd been thinking about how to learn to raise her children differently when I knocked on her door. She'd been told about a community agency that offered parenting courses, but hadn't quite got there to sign up. I offered her all the information she needed to follow through with a visit to the parenting organization."

It's Time We Started Telling These Stories is online at www.realstories.org.nz

 

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