Bike riders stand up for women

RACHEL STURGES
Last updated 05:00 30/11/2012
White Ribbon
MURRAY WILSON

MY TURN: A White Ribbon rider talks to schoolchildren in Palmerston North.

White Ribbon
RACHEL STURGES
RIDING STRONG: Tony Brooking of Meadowbank took part in the White Ribbon Ride to raise awareness about violence against women.

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A road trip the length of the North Island would be a dream come true for many motorbike enthusiasts.

For Meadowbank resident Tony Brooking it has been a way of bringing attention to a cause he is passionate about. He was one of a large group of motorbike riders on November's White Ribbon Ride 2012, an initiative co-ordinated and funded by the Families Commission to tackle awareness of domestic violence in New Zealand.

White Ribbon is a global campaign in which men are asked to pledge that they will never commit, condone or remain silent about physical or psychological violence towards women.

Mr Brooking is studying to be an Anglican priest at St John's Theological College and has been doing the White Ribbon ride every year "from the get-go".

He has personal reasons for being involved.

"Statistics say now that one in three ladies have been affected by domestic violence. Well I've got six sisters and three of my six sisters have been under some type of domestic violence situation," he says.

"I've seen it happen. I've worked as a social worker in the Far North and domestic violence was rife."

This year, as part of the Te Ahi Kaikoha motorcycling group, he was one of the leaders of the West Wind riders who rode from Wellington up the west coast of the North Island.

He says the highlight of the ride was "the whanaungatanga that we've had, the family environment that's been created here."

Families Commission adviser Charlie Moore was one of the support crew on the ride.

He says the initiative was well received in the places they visited including Te Awamutu's Waikeria Prison and Wanganui Prison.

"It's good for people not to feel they are alone. They're not the only ones," he says.

Mr Brooking says men need to take ownership and be part of the solution.

"It's no good sitting back and waiting, sitting back we're not doing anything.

"I think in the past we've had a mentality of drink hard, play hard, and we need to have the ability to communicate without using physical violence. If we can take a step back from there and open our mouths, talk to our wives, talk to our children, then I think we're off to a good start.

"It's not the complete solution but we need to be able to talk and find the opportunity to learn how to talk because I'm under no illusion that talking is hard."

He also has advice for women in abusive situations.

"Don't be ashamed, speak up for yourself, we need to stop keeping it behind closed doors and actually step out and say, ‘Hey I'm being abused. Hey I'm an abuser, I need help'."

See whiteribbon.co.nz or phone 0800 456 450 if you need to talk to someone about domestic violence issues.

To watch a video of the ride click here.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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