Stopping violence and reclaiming community
It was a huge relief to me and my staff that the matter of the horrific attack on a woman at Victory Community Gardens on New Year’s Day has been resolved quickly with last Monday’s guilty plea by Hilton Heke.
Our relief was because the woman involved will not now have to be subjected to the further trauma of a long and drawn out trial. We can only hope now that she will be able to start the long journey of reclaiming her life.
Terrible events provide opportunities for individuals, or in this case an entire community, to show their real backbone. I have nothing but admiration for the Victory community and the way people came together and made it very clear that actions like this have no place in our society.
I was at the blessing of the community gardens where people of all ages and from all walks of life turned up to show their support. It was an emotional event, but it showed there was a reason to carry on.
I would like to acknowledge Detective Sergeant Ian Langridge and the entire police team involved with this operation. Many of those staff interrupted their summer holidays and volunteered to come back to work to help out.
What many people don’t realise is that police officers like Ian don’t just turn up when they’re paid to solve crimes. Ian is also Chairman of the Board of SVS – Living Safe (formerly Stopping Violence Services).
SVS – Living Safe provides education, counselling and support for anyone affected by family violence. The organisation has been around for about 20 years and was originally called Men Against Rape. Over the years it has evolved into stopping violence services and support for men and women. This now includes comprehensive education and support for survivors, partners and young people.
Very soon SVS – Living Safe will be taking over service delivery in Motueka.
I encourage anyone who has issues with their own, or someone else’s violent behaviour, to seek this or other support organisations out.
Standing together: Part of the crowd gathered outside the Victory Community Centre for the Blessing and Reclaiming ceremony of the Victory Community Gardens following the New Year’s Day rape.