Sophie Elliott Foundation launched

BY SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 15:00 06/10/2010
Lesley Elliott at Sophie Elliott Foundation launch
JOHN SELKIRK
SOPHIE'S LEGACY: Lesley Elliott at the Sophie Elliott Foundation launch.

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Murder victim Sophie Elliott would not have wanted her life to be in vain her mother Lesley said, as she today launched the Sophie Elliott Foundation - which aims to warn young women of the signs of an abusive relationship.

Sophie Elliott, 22, was brutally murdered by her former boyfriend Clayton Weatherston in January 2008. Weatherston is currently serving a life sentence for the crime.

Elliott was in Auckland with chairman of the newly formed foundation, Dunedin man Neville Caird, and was supported by trustee Kristin Dunne-Powell - who herself suffered abuse at the hands of high profile sports presenter Tony Veitch.

Elliott said she had thought about setting up the foundation ever since a reporter had asked her what her daughter's legacy would be. Elliott said she waited until after the sentencing of Weatherston before committing herself to establishing the foundation.

In the meantime she had already started telling groups "Sophie's story" and had spoken to year 13 girls at a couple of Dunedin high schools. She had had an emotional response on most occasions.

"Most of them were in tears at the end of the speech," she said.

The foundation's main aim is to raise money to fund a nation-wide primary prevention programme and to support local community initiatives which align with the foundation.

Elliott said she and Dunne-Powell recognised that there were many programmes which helped people after the event but not many which focussed on preventing abusive relationships.

Ideally they would like to get a programme which informs young girls and their families of the signs of abuse, into the school curriculum.

Elliott said she missed signs of psychological abuse and Weatherston's possessiveness and sense of entitlement to her daughter.

"I could have saved us all this bother, all this heartache had I known [the signs of abuse]."

Elliott said 90 per cent of the signs of abuse she had learnt about were present in her daughter's relationship with Weatherston.

She said she was sure her daughter would have thought the foundation was "awesome". The logo of the foundation is modelled off caricatures Sophie used to draw of herself.

"I know that she is up there and I know that this is what she wants. She wouldn't want her life to be in vain."

There will be a launch of the foundation in the Elliott's home town, Dunedin, in the near future, she said.

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* Donations to the Sophie Elliott Foundation can be made at any branch of the Westpac bank or by cheque made payable to the Sophie Elliott Foundation and sent to Sophie Elliott Foundation c/- NZ Financial Planning, PO Box 5844, Dunedin 9058.

- Stuff

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