Com­mu­ni­ties the key to stop­ping do­mes­tic vi­o­lence

Matamata Chronicle - - What’s On - AARON LEAMAN

New Zealand’s high rate of fam­ily vi­o­lence has been de­scribed in var­i­ous ways.

A stain on our na­tional iden­tity.

A shame­ful truth, the enor­mity of which few ap­pre­ci­ate.

David White likens it to a large stone.

‘‘When in­ci­dents of fam­ily vi­o­lence oc­cur it has the ef­fect of a big stone be­ing dropped into a calm pond,’’ the 71-year-old ex­plains.

‘‘The ini­tial im­pact and splash rep­re­sents the vic­tim. But the rip­ples of wa­ter that move out across the sur­face are the peo­ple who are ef­fected in the wider com­mu­nity. The im­pact of fam­ily vi­o­lence goes be­yond the home and can have a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on whole com­mu­ni­ties.’’

White’s ob­ser­va­tions are based on his fam­ily’s own har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

His daugh­ter, He­len Meads, was mur­dered by her hus­band, Greg Meads, in 2009.

Thir­teen months be­fore her mur­der, Greg Meads beat his wife so badly he crushed her lar­ynx and left her body bruised and blood­ied.

When Meads learnt of He­len’s plans to leave him, he shot her in the throat at close range in­side the cou­ple’s Mata­mata sta­bles.

White said his fam­ily should have got He­len to safety when they first learnt she was be­ing abused.

His and oth­ers’ per­ceived fail­ings are chron­i­cled in his book Fam­ily Vi­o­lence: Lift­ing New Zealand’s Dark Cloud.

It’s the sec­ond book he has writ­ten since He­len’s death.

His mo­ti­va­tion for writ­ing the book is a de­sire to save another fa­ther from hav­ing to walk in his shoes.

White said the enor­mity of his daugh­ter’s vi­o­lent death, and his own feel­ings of guilt, drove him to con­tem­plate sui­cide.

‘‘I’m pretty frank about by thoughts in the days af­ter He­len’s death. I did con­sider sui­cide as an op­tion be­cause all I could see was what I did wrong and the fruit­less­ness of my life. What worth did I have if I couldn’t save my daugh­ter?’’

In the nearly seven years since He­len’s death, White has dis­cov­ered a pur­pose, cam­paign­ing tire­lessly to end fam­ily vi­o­lence.

His speak­ing en­gage­ments in­clude schools, clubs and pris­ons.

PHOTO: MARK TAY­LOR/FAIR­FAX NZ

David Write has writ­ten a book of­fer­ing so­lu­tions to how New Zealand can put an end to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. White’s daugh­ter, He­len Meads, was mur­dered by her abu­sive hus­band, Greg Meads.

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