Let's Not Bury Our Heads In the Sand When It Comes to Domestic Abuse

A post was shared recently on Facebook about how here in New Zealand there has been a shelter set up for pets, and other animals, of people that experience domestic violence and wish to escape from it.

This long overdue shelter is sure to provide so many, caught up in the hardship experience of trying to leave an abusive partner or spouse, with an additional much needed support, for them to make the break and get to safety.

Let's not bury our heads in the sand when it comes to domestic abuse being an issue here in Aotearoa New Zealand. It does occur. It occurs in various forms, and across the wide spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds that exist in our country.

Having been a small child myself who was caught up in a family situation that was, (to be diplomatic), 'difficult,' I know firsthand how worrying and traumatic a family break up is.

There is always history, often a long and lengthy, very painful history. What tips someone over to move away finally from the family home, may not always be just what was finally seen by outsiders viewing from the outside. Unless you are in it, experiencing it firsthand, the family unit and an actual family dynamic will not always be so very clearly apparent.

I know that I know trauma, as a result of what occurred in, around and beyond all of that primary family situation not being what it should have been, in my own family of origin home.

I know that I know memories that were not pleasant. They are vivid, they are significant and they are very real and in fact indeed true.

I know that I know the heartache and trauma a small child goes through when they suddenly face not having their beloved pet with them any longer, and they are in a situation that already makes them feel very terribly unsafe and vulnerable.

As much as there may be others who would wish for their own reasons that I never acknowledge or discuss in any measure the traumas resulting from my own childhood experience of domestic abuse, my memories, my experiences and the resulting trauma and heartache were very real and they are very true.

Let's never bury our heads in the sand in Aotearoa New Zealand when it comes to domestic abuse. Let's never say that verbal abuse is acceptable or not such a big issue, because no one was ever literally hit.

Let's never bury our heads in the sand as a nation, or beyond, when it comes to a family break up and say that emotional abuse is somewhat acceptable, or of no real significance, simply because the tyrant or the bully could put on their mask & cloak of charm, when in front of extended family or the wider community, and thus appear to never be surely guilty of such an atrocious verbalisation or act.

Let's choose to be wiser and more discerning, to not be lead along unwittingly by falsehoods orchestrated and fabricated to provide other reasons for why someone within the household is withdrawn, depressed or obviously jumpy and tense.

Let's not take it for granted that someone throwing away the comment that they bruise easily, does in fact just bruise easily. There can be other things clearly dropping out clues, that do not weigh up to the family home being one that is calm, peaceful, and literally safe for all.

Physical abuse can take a number of forms, and victims of physical abuse will have been groomed over time to let each act of literal abuse not necessarily stand as what it is: abuse. A shove one day, a strong handed grip on an arm the next.... right through to an actual debilitating slap, punch or kick. They all are abuse when the hand, the foot or any other body part striking out does so in anger, and with the sole goal & purpose of controlling another.

Keeping someone without access to communication, to transport, to having free contact with others; withholding and preventing them from receiving necessary medical or dental aid as required; keeping someone always financial bound at a level that is truly crippling....... at any given time these are all forms of abuse, and they need to named and identified as such.

Let's never stand back and blame the victim, because it is just too threatening to think that behind closed doors someone might be under a cloud of such mental abuse that it tips them over to appear to act, or even outright act, irrationally.

Sexual abuse does occur behind closed doors, and even in a marriage or partnership, rape is rape. Sexual intercourse should be consensual always, no matter whose in bed with who each night.

Sexual abuse of children is never, ever acceptable and we need to guard the children of our world and nation by giving them the voice to speak to someone they trust, rather than keep them in a pit of shame and silence, because who should have been their primary caregiver proved to be their first or primary abuser.

There are those who don't like to know that there can be such skeletons in any given wider family circle, particularly their own. Yet, the desire to not know about them, or to acknowledge them, simply do not make them disappear and not exist.

It can suit our own sense of balance and security to simply turn a blind eye, or even accept at face value, stories spun about why families parted and why a spouse or partner allegedly left. Such attempts at ignorance however are not bliss for those at the receiving end of domestic abuse. Nor does it actually make the victim less of a victim, and less in need of the wider community's actual support and help to get to safety.

The truth of the matter is, that there are no advantages to trying to hush away and avoid the untold realities, the undisclosed traumas and heartaches, that are often behind a woman and her children leaving their family home.

Society as a whole greatly loses each and every time a family situation has become so difficult, that yet again, another family unit has dissolved due to it becoming so dysfunctional, so broken and so disengaged to the point of no return.

Those behind this latest shelter, for the protection of family pets and domestic animals, have finally put in place what has been long needed.

They have acknowledged and done the work to solve one of the key issues that can exist for a number of people, who are needing to leave an unsafe and unhealthy family home and environment as soon as possible.

It's brilliant and it's smart, and it is long overdue. May those that need to make the most of this new provision, find the peace, the sense of balance and safety they desperately need again, as soon as is humanly possible.


  1. Nobody is burying their head in the sand Rhonda. My anger is over the fact you have decided to air all of this personal stuff in a public forum when he is no longer here to defend himself. He also would have been hurt hearing you call him your “biological” father - everybody reading your Facebook post would have known you weren’t referring to your stepdad Jim. Perhaps you can stop burying your own head in the sand and finally go and visit his grave. He would love that.
    -Lana x

  2. I stand by the content of this article.