Words from the wise

Nadia - - CONTENTS - Meet the woman on a mis­sion to give those who live with do­mes­tic vi­o­lence the chance to be seen and heard

Walk­ing along­side women who live with vi­o­lence

Jackie Clark has given love, sup­port and un­told time and re­sources to women who have lived with, or are liv­ing with, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. But she says it’s the women who have healed her in re­turn. Jackie leads a group of anony­mous donors called The Aun­ties, who give re­sources, such as food, clothes and money, to a num­ber of women, mostly in South Auck­land, who face, or have faced, vi­o­lence in their daily lives.

Act­ing as the in­ter­face be­tween the donors and the women, she pro­vides emo­tional sup­port as well as prac­ti­cal and fi­nan­cial help. The other part of her role is work­ing with women’s refuges, hous­ing agen­cies, so­cial work­ers and or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Te Rōopū o Te Whā­nau Rangi­marie o Tā­maki Makau­rau and The New Zealand Pros­ti­tutes’ Col­lec­tive.

Here, the for­mer kinder­garten teacher clar­i­fies some mis­con­cep­tions around fam­ily vi­o­lence.

Giv­ing back

The women that I work with are in­cred­i­bly in­tel­li­gent, in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful, and in­cred­i­bly strong women. They’re strong be­cause they’ve em­braced their vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. They’re su­per kind, they’re al­ways want­ing to give back, they al­ways want to help. A num­ber of them are ac­tu­ally ‘Aun­ties’ them­selves.

Work­ing to­gether

We use a whā­nau model so we ac­knowl­edge that women are in a whā­nau and that will in­clude their part­ner or ex-part­ner. The idea isn’t to end a re­la­tion­ship, but to see if they can find con­tent­ment to­gether and heal each other. And if that’s not go­ing to hap­pen, what a refuge does is ide­ally give some­one tools.

Strength is power

Stand in your mauri. Stand in your power.

Not just phys­i­cal

The nar­ra­tive that Once Were War­riors gave wasn’t that ac­cu­rate in terms of what do­mes­tic vi­o­lence looks like for most peo­ple and who does it the most. That’s the nar­ra­tive we have, that do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is solely phys­i­cal. But fam­ily vi­o­lence is not just phys­i­cal, it’s mostly ver­bal, emo­tional and psy­cho­log­i­cal. It’s power and con­trol.


The women I’ve worked with are tat­tooed on my skin and they are tat­tooed on my heart.

Fa­cil­i­tat­ing free­dom

The Aun­ties and I to­gether, through the re­sources and money we pro­vide, help to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that fa­cil­i­tates women to walk on their path to free­dom.

Mother muses

My ‘girls’ [the women that I pro­vide sup­port to] do ex­tra­or­di­nary things for their chil­dren. They’re in­cred­i­ble par­ents and ex­tra­or­di­nary cooks and bud­geters. They’re amaz­ing women; I’m so filled with ad­mi­ra­tion for them.

A sil­ver lin­ing

Do­ing this has healed me. My best friend died about six months after I started work­ing with women in refuges. That’s mostly why I threw my­self into this. She was my best friend, my soul sis­ter. For 33 years she re­flected who I was, so when she died, I had no clue who I was.

Meet­ing needs

I didn’t start this work to help; I did it be­cause it needed to be done. That’s a very im­por­tant dis­tinc­tion. If there’s a need, you fill it. It’s not about ‘help­ing’ peo­ple.

I’m try­ing to change the lan­guage around what char­ity is, and try to get peo­ple to un­der­stand that ‘white knight­ing’ is not ef­fec­tive. You have to gen­uinely un­der­stand that peo­ple help them­selves when they are ready and if you can help cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that eases that sit­u­a­tion, good. The more wor­ries we can take off some­one’s plate, the more time and space they have.

Help­ing your­self

The per­son who has lost their power has to be the one to get it back. My re­la­tion­ship with these women, par­tic­u­larly the ones I work very closely with, cre­ates an ef­fec­tive en­vi­ron­ment for them to be able to do that. I’m not there to fix them, they do all of that them­selves. It’s just about walk­ing along­side them.

Mov­ing on

Women don’t want to talk about [vi­o­lence], be­cause it causes them pain. That’s why peo­ple don’t talk about it; that’s why New Zealand doesn’t talk about it. It takes them back to that place and they’d rather leave it far be­hind.

My ‘why’

I do this be­cause I am good at it and be­cause I can. I’ve got the re­sources to do this; I’ve got the heart to do it. I’ve got an ex­tra­or­di­nary stom­ach for it.


I didn’t start this job be­cause of the things it’d give to me, but what it’s given to me… it’s given me my life.

How to be seen

The book we are work­ing on – which will tell the sto­ries of some of the women we work with – is thrilling, be­cause peo­ple don’t know how pow­er­ful these women are, and how im­pact­ing and heal­ing be­ing in their pres­ence is. A lot of peo­ple don’t see ‘them’, they see the vi­o­lence.

Cry it out

Tears are love.


If you need help, visit 2shine.org.nz or wom­en­srefuge.org.nz • or call the 24-hour helpline 0800 REFUGE.

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