Communities the key to stopping domestic violence
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.
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.