READER REPORT:

Rape in NZ: Living 'without a voice'

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Last updated 09:30 10/12/2013

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I was 4, left alone by my parents for long enough for a predator to take advantage. I remember fear. I remember the pain. I was told that if I cried out he would kill me.

Afterwards I made it back to the party and found my mum. I wanted to tell her everything, but when she saw that I had messed up my dress she got upset and told me off. I wanted her to hug me and make me feel safe. She told me to stop making a performance. I found a quiet place behind a sofa and stayed there until my father found me at the end of the party and put me in the car. They thought I had cried myself to sleep. I had actually cried myself out of my childhood.

In the end I felt so voiceless, distant, and invisible that I didn't try to tell anyone. I lived without a voice for a very long time.

It did inspire me to leave my family as soon as I could. After some years in the wilderness I found my way forward.

As an adult I have reflected on what happened to me and wonder why neither of my parents noticed anything wrong with me. I wondered why they didn't question why my personality seemed to change overnight.

Now, I have decided to not let the past live rent free in my head.

Why is there a rape culture in New Zealand? Because there are people in power who don't listen (including teachers, parents, police, etc); there are people who think they can get away with it; there is system that works against survivors seeing any kind of justice; and there are people out there who say that all women are asking for it//that men can't control themselves if they see some cleavage or a short skirt.

It's about time that the men and women of this country make sure that our children are brought to up respect all people, to take no for no, to have empathy, to feel ok in their own skin and to feel ok about talking about difficult issues with fear.

We could start a cultural change by not letting advertisers exploit women's bodies and sexuality to sell products such as tractors etc, by rejecting the pornification of popular music and by encouraging masculinity where dominance and power are less important.

We should value each other more.


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