Sur­vivor’s voice is louder

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS ETHERIDGE

SPEAK­ING up for sur­vivors of sex­ual vi­o­lence and teach­ing thou­sands of school­child­ren the im­por­tance of con­sent is what Dr Kim McGre­gor has ded­i­cated her life to.

Now the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Grey Lynn’s Rape Pre­ven­tion Ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre has been for­mally recog­nised for more than 30 years cham­pi­oning the cause.

McGre­gor has been made a Com­pan­ion of The Queen’s Ser­vice Or­der in this year’s Queen’s Birth­day Hon­ours for ser­vices to the pre­ven­tion of sex­ual vi­o­lence.

She says it is a trib­ute to the ded­i­cated work­ers at all sex­ual vi­o­lence ser­vices, many who work with lit­tle or no fund­ing and face clo­sure ev­ery day.

The cen­tre has worked at a na­tional level to sup­port sur­vivors for the last nine years.

One in four women and one in eight men are af­fected by sex­ual vi­o­lence.

High-pro­file in­ci­dents such as the Louise Nicholas case and the ‘‘Roast­busters’’ saga have shown there is still huge work to do, the 56-year-old says.

McGre­gor says she marched with a thou­sand peo­ple af­ter the Nicholas case came to light. Many women said they would never re­port sex­ual as­saults be­cause of the treat­ment Nicholas re­ceived.

‘‘What was so heart­en­ing was there were so many men at the march.

‘‘We re­ally have to in­clude men in pre­ven­tion ed­u­ca­tion.’’

The West­mere res­i­dent says she was sex­u­ally abused at age 11. She was de­pressed, self-harm­ing and at­tempted sui­cide.

She did not seek help un­til her mid-20s and says it has af­fected her mar­riage and par­ent­ing.

McGre­gor says she then saw how big the is­sue is and how vic­tims cope with the symp­toms and trauma of abuse.

Rape Pre­ven­tion Ed­u­ca­tion work­ers have spent more than a decade vis­it­ing schools and teach­ing teens how to de­velop re­spect­ful sex­ual relationships.

‘‘Most young peo­ple don’t know the laws of con­sent and they don’t know how to ne­go­ti­ate con­sent, or even that they should,’’ McGre­gor says.

McGre­gor has spo­ken at an­ti­rape marches for 30 years and has no plans of stop­ping.

She says stay­ing pos­i­tive is im­por­tant - she can see an end to sex­ual vi­o­lence in the fu­ture.

So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Paula Ben­nett an­nounced in the 2014 Bud­get that $10.4 mil­lion would be al­lo­cated over the next two years for spe­cial­ist sex­ual vi­o­lence ser­vices.

But New Zealand must in­vest in fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion for at least 40 years to have any chance of end­ing it, McGre­gor says.

Par­ents and role mod­els also need to help ed­u­cate youth to keep them safe, she says.

Photo: PETER MEECHAM

Speak­ing out: Kim McGre­gor, head of Grey Lynn-based Rape Pre­ven­tion Ed­u­ca­tion, has been made a Com­pan­ion of The Queen’s Ser­vice Or­der in the Queen’s Birth­day Hon­ours.

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