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A Grounded Response to Abuse

Crikey, I have written so many different posts over the last few weeks and posted nothing!
I’m struggling with the amount of posted content out there that seems hopeless and divisive. I’m sure many of you are also.
It has become increasingly hard to communicate on our page about child abuse in Aotearoa amongst all the clutter. It often feels as though our attention is less focused on the hurting people directly in front of us and more obsessed with the idea of taking down the rich, or high-profile personalities (people we will probably never meet or have any influence on). Please, I’m not saying that we should not hold these people accountable or get behind big causes – BUT let’s not allow that to overtake the simple things each and everyone of us CAN do to make a difference.

Remember – small acts of kindness can be more powerful than big systems!

Here is one of the things that has been concerning me specifically in regards to child abuse (and I’m struggling to put into words – so I hope it makes some sense):
There has been a lot of attention given to the Epstein case and all the people who may or may not be guilty along with him, as well as other darker theories on a massive satanic pedophile ring. I don’t want to delve into all the details of these bits – except to say that I really do hope that Epstein and all his counterparts are held responsible for the lives that they diminished & destroyed over many years. As for the other darker theories around, I really don’t know about that except that I have seen several things cross my feed which has included false information or photos used out of context to imply something false. Posts like these weaken the cause for legitimate organisations who are fighting for justice and rights of children affected by trafficking and abuse across the world.

I fear our obsession with these cases are distracting us away from the people right in front of us who need our help. We have this crazy spite thing inside of us that allows us to get some weird sense of satisfaction at the idea of taking down those we don’t relate to.

When it comes to abuse, we often credit certain groups of people to be the source of blame – socially disadvantaged, ethnic groups, the government… but we really do seem to LOVE it when it involves big names or personalities. Blaming others makes us feel better about ourselves.

Abusers exist everywhere – it isn’t an elite problem, a poor person problem, or a race problem – it is a people problem. Bad people exist everywhere. However, the more power a person has, the more control and manipulation they can hold over others. You do not have to be wealthy to hold power over someone.

Here is a thought about accountability: When we diminish or write off the needs of people right in front of us we are THE SAME as all the people who have been complacent in the high-profile cases we love to talk about.

Here is the risk: Our own stats according to It’s not OK Campaign show 24% of women, 6% of men, 20% of girls, 9% of boys reported experiencing some kind of sexual abuse. Keep in mind, sexual abuse often goes unreported and the delicate, sensitive nature of the cases along with the attached stress (and sadly perceived shame) means that many cases will never even reach the court system.

We give too much credit to the perpetrators. In these high-profile cases, we seem to care more about the ‘celebrityness ’ of the people involved over the fact that there are real life victims who are deeply affected. When taking it back to victims who are right in front of us, in our own communities (perhaps our own families) – sadly we very good at protecting the ‘reputations’ of perpetrators and assuming that the victims are lying rather than ensuring that they are heard and protected. Victims have been weakened through their victimhood and desperately require the active support of others in their community. Too often it is the very people they should be able to trust and turn to that shut down their voice and add to their trauma.
Let’s challenge ourselves – if we really want to make a difference in the lives of children & young people – what can you practically do to make a difference?
If we can’t help those in our own communities, what right to we even have delving into the massive complicated cases we see through our media overseas?

Small acts of kindness make a HUGE difference.

If you are keen to be better equipped to help vulnerable children and respond to abuse, here are 2 of our leading training providers for child protection:

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