It was difficult to listen to David White at the White Ribbon event in Manukau today.
It was difficult because his voice broke several times during his address. The raw emotion that he so humbly shared with the crowd was both poignant and honest.
His pain and his determination to make a difference by sharing his families story, was all too real.
His warning haunting; his impassioned plea to men and women unmistakable.
His ‘if only’s hung in the air and everyone listening took note.
I stood with my staff and felt the rise of that long understood lump in my throat and felt my eyes start to well.
We stood with respect for David White and the rest of the White Ribbon whanau who rode with him in this year’s campaign. Many of whom we know and respect both personally and professionally.
We stood because we believe men can make a difference to the way domestic violence pervades our communities.
It’s undeniable that this country has a serious domestic violence problem when one in three women in this country suffers some form of physical, sexual or psychological violence in their lifetime. (Fanslow 2004)
It’s also undeniable when the World Health organisation also makes the same statement, with the Western Pacific Region (of which Aotearoa is a part of) taking 24.6% of the world average in the ‘prevalence’ of violence against women. (WHO, 2013)
During the first year that Police Safety Orders (PSO’s) were introduced in this country, Police handed out some 5242 PSO’s with 89% of those being to male perpetrators of domestic violence. 86% of ‘persons at risk’ were female. (Police, 2011)
So it’s pretty clear our men have some issues aye?
But that’s also exactly why White Ribbon is important to us. The campaign demonstrates that men are starting to get the message about domestic violence. Men’s violence is a man’s issue and men have a responsibility to call it out and keep other men accountable.
Each year the campaign takes on a greater level of awareness. More men join the movement. More men step up and ask for help. More men acknowledge their violence and are supported in seeking change. We admire the courage it takes to do that.
To all of those people who shared in White Ribbon with us this year, whether at the dinner, breakfast, family day or today at Manukau Mall, we salute you and we’ll see you next year!To Mr David White. Today your pain created change. You didn’t know it, but it did.