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Talking about it a way out of family violence

Last updated 05:00 30/01/2014
Speaking About Violence
SPEAK UP: Jit Kaur says the best thing victims of family violence can do is tell someone.

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Jit Kaur has three words of advice for anyone suffering from family violence: Talk about it.

And it's a message that's close to her heart.

Ms Kaur was in a violent relationship herself and watched her daughter Dhillon go through the same thing before founding the New Zealand Sikh Women's Association.

The Otahuhu-based organisation provides support and services for south-east Asian women who have experienced abuse.

It's one of a number of organisations taking part in a summer-long campaign against family violence.

The campaign is spearheaded by Counties Manukau Police and runs until February 2.

Ms Kaur says it can be hard to speak up about family violence but it's vitally important that people do so.

And it's important to listen if someone you love is being abused, she says.

"It takes a lot of understanding, a lot of patience. If she doesn't want to leave him, it can be very hard."

Speaking up can be doubly difficult for Asian women because of the different attitudes towards family violence in many countries, Ms Kaur says.

Her native Malaysia has changed a lot in recent years but family violence used to be seen as something that women had to accept, she says.

"But you can't bring the baggage from your own country. Things are very, very different here."

Ms Kaur's daughter Dhillon says she suffered in silence for a decade before telling her family she was being abused by her husband.

She was beaten in front of her children and was hit so hard when she was pregnant that her son was born prematurely.

"I used to be abused so badly that I couldn't walk but I never told my family. I would hide it and if the bruises were really bad I would basically stay home," she says.

"Ten years down the road my family sat and spoke to me and said: ‘This is not right'. My Mum spoke with me about the cycle of abuse and told me: ‘What's happening is never going to change, you have to move on'."

That conversation was an eye-opener for Dhillon.

She took her sons and left Malaysia for New Zealand to start over. Today she lives a life free from violence and credits it all to her family. "They were my best buddies because they told me what I needed to hear," she says. "My Mum especially has always been there. She was my comfort and my blanket and my rock. I think our talking healed me."

In the year ended June 30, 2013, police made nearly 90,000 family violence investigations. Children were present in 56,000 of those.

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Counties Manukau police spokeswoman Kimberley Mathews says it's hoped increased awareness of the issue will lead to more reporting. Call the New Zealand Sikh Women's Association on 270 0798.

- Manukau Courier

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