Emily Longley's dad joins anti-violence campaign

Last updated 18:21 05/11/2012
Emily Longley and her jeweller boyfriend, Elliot Turner
GUILTY: Elliot Turner, pictured with Emily Longley.

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The father of an Auckland teenager murdered by her jealous boyfriend will speak in public about his daughter's death for the first time as part of the White Ribbon campaign to stop violence toward women.

Mark Longley has become a White Ribbon ambassador in the hope he may be able to stop the death of someone else caught in an abusive relationship.

In May last year his 17-year-old daughter, Emily, was strangled by her 20-year-old boyfriend, Elliot Turner, in his bedroom at his family's home in England.

A jury found Turner guilty of murder and he was sentenced to 16 years in jail. The judge said Turner had "bullied, harassed, threatened and assaulted" Emily to control her as his "trophy" girlfriend.

Longley said he would be aiming to spread the message of the White Ribbon campaign, and would be speaking in public for the first time about Emily's death.

"It's still very difficult to talk about Emily and what happened to Emily," he said.

"I'm not sure how that is going to go. Hopefully what I say will stick in someone's mind and maybe make a difference."

He was getting support from a "fantastic" counsellor, from Victim Support and from his friends.

"I have had to think about it quite hard. Do I want to expose myself to going through reliving Emily's story over and over again?

"I feel so strongly it's something Emily would have liked me to do," Longley said.

When he came back to New Zealand after Turner's trial he had "wanted to come home and just crawl underneath a stone and never have to think about these things".

But after so many people talked to him about the issue he realised he was in a position to do something.

"I have been staggered by the amount of people who have talked to me about it," he said.

In one case he encouraged a woman who had concerns about her daughter to go to the right people and get help. She had done that and her daughter was now out of the relationship.

But Longley cautioned care needed to be taken when a woman decided to leave an abusive relationship.

"That is fraught. Most of the killings happen when a woman tries to leave a relationship."

People needed to be steered to the right experts, such as Women's Refuge or the police.

One of the key messages of the White Ribbon Campaign was that it was not acceptable to stand by knowing someone was a victim of domestic violence. Another was the importance of recognising the signs of abuse.

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On the first day of Turner's trial he had been stunned to learn that Turner's friends were aware he was making threats to Emily.

"As a grieving parent that's quite hard. That was the first point when I thought Emily could still be alive today."

In an editorial in the Whakatane Beacon, where he is managing editor, Longley said he could not believe no one had intervened and stopped Turner.

"No one had sought help, called the police or even confronted Turner about his behaviour. Some of his male friends, by playing along with him, had even egged him on."

The White Ribbon message was aimed at men. It asked that men show they would not tolerate, condone or remain silent about violence towards women.

"It is a message that is relevant to me and one I want to help spread."

WHAT IS THE WHITE RIBBON CAMPAIGN?

- White Ribbon is an international campaign that originated as a men's movement in Canada and is now part of the United Nations annual calendar.

- The Families Commission took a leadership role in the initiative in 2006 and the campaign activities now run through November, culminating in White Ribbon Day on November 25.

- There are about 50 White Ribbon ambassadors in this country supporting the campaign. Among them are sports stars Ruben Wiki and Harry Ngata; Prime Minister John Key,  Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Judge Peter Boshier and entertainers Stan Walker and Billy TK Jnr.

- This year the campaign includes messages on non-physical violence, which many women say is often underestimated.

- Auckland Now

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