For those of us who have never truly feared a member of our family, we can’t know how this feels. If we haven’t ‘been there’ ourselves, it’s also hard to understand how violence could become anyone’s ‘normal’, let alone to empathise that perpetrators were often also once victims.
Core to SafeMan SafeFamily’s work is the understanding that peers and mentors who genuinely understand the perpetrator’s perspective can help engage them in the journey, making them more likely to complete programmes and remain violence-free.
Using trauma-informed counselling, we have seen positive results from short programmes. However, our work is intensive (perpetrators of violence are effectively always ‘recovering’), so our successes are currently incremental. We need more people on our programmes to reach a positive ‘tipping point’, where enough people are far enough along their journey of recovery to act as mentors to others beginning.
Once we reach this point, we look forward to our national mentor network (currently 60) rapidly growing, which will help us resource more programmes. To fund these programmes, our next step is to get official reporting around this.
This is why, from mid-2019 we will be running full pilot programmes in locations in South Auckland with a full, independent evaluation. With the body of data, this provides, we can use it to improve our programme’s effectiveness, develop resources, educate our mentors and share our learnings with other family and whānau violence agencies.
We aim to continue to develop our mentor support network and ultimately offer programmes across Aotearoa/New Zealand, to support all communities, especially those who are isolated or socially deprived. Our vision is that this will enable all children to grow up safe and free from violence.
This should never be normal.