Push for education on abuse

21:41, Aug 31 2012

All teenagers need to be given education about relationships, in particular the warning signs of abusive ones, the mother of Sophie Elliott has told a conference in Palmerston North.

Lesley Elliott's daughter was killed by her ex-boyfriend Clayton Weatherston in 2008.

Yesterday, Mrs Elliot told the NZ Sexual Health Society national conference it wasn't until after Sophie's death she realised her relationship with her university tutor had been abusive.

After her daughter's death she found articles online on the signs of abuse.

Sophie's behaviour in the five months she dated Weatherston showed 90 per cent of those signs, she said.

"When I looked at those sites it was all the same things that happened to Sophie. It was like there's a text book (abusers) read.


"I sat there and cried for some considerable time. I thought ‘if only she had realised'. I decided then and there I'd go to Sophie's school and talk to the year 13 girls."

After Weatherston's trial, Mrs Elliott started the Sophie Elliott Foundation and has since spoken at dozens of schools about Sophie's story, and the warning signs.

Weatherston's abuse had been psychological up until 10 days before he murdered Sophie she said, and after she had left him.

"I wish that he'd hit her (early in the relationship) because if he had she'd have been out of there fast."

Instead Sophie, and her mother, were unaware of the psychological abuse he waged.

His actions included calling Sophie fat, ugly and stupid, among other insults, emotional blackmail, threats and controlling her by keeping tabs on her.

Mrs Elliott said she would continue to speak at schools and community groups but a national programme of relationship education in schools needed to be developed.

She says she has received numerous messages from people who have got out of abusive relationships after hearing Sophie's story, but as only one woman she can only reach so many people.

For more on the Sophie Elliott Foundation and to learn about the signs of abuse in relationships, visit sophieelliottfoundation.co.nz.

Manawatu Standard