Thursday, 2 August 2018

Talkback Truth

A Rarely Heard Insight

Talkback radio has a select, but faithful hard-core audience.  One thing it does achieve, more than most other media we believe, is give insight into a societal fringe.  Sometimes that insight has to do with matters of important moment.

Therefore, we were interested to read Kerre McIvor's recent article on domestic violence.  Some background would be helpful.  Our world is awash with do-gooders who naively believe that if taxpayers' money is dripped down upon some social problem, hey-presto!  Things magically change for the better.

Last week we were told that victims of domestic violence were going to get a wonderful blessing--a new piece of legislation,  via employers.  They were going to receive 10 extra days leave from employers to help them cope with domestic violence.  What could go wrong?

This is where McIvor is able to help.  Her night time community and audience is replete with folk who have secrets, who would like to talk to someone, but are often private and ashamed.  They end up talking anonymously to late night radio talk-back hosts and audiences.  Included are secretive, ashamed victims of domestic violence.  So, McIvor--as a late-night talk show radio host--is probably one of the most knowledgeable people in the country on this subject.
  She cannot see the sense in the recent Domestic Violence Victim Protection Act just passed into law.
The Domestic Violence Victim Protection Bill was passed in Parliament this week and has been hailed by its architect, Green MP Jan Logie, as a "win for victims, a win for business and ultimately a win for all of us".  The bill allows for victims of domestic abuse to approach their employer and receive 10 days' paid leave, which, Logie says, will make the world of difference to the victim.

They will be able to attend court hearings, find a safe place to live, visit their lawyers and look after their children. The extra leave is needed because, according to Logie, existing annual leave and sick leave provisions aren't enough to cover the time off work needed by a person to orchestrate their safe escape from a violent situation.

The cost of the new law, which comes into effect next year, is to be borne by the employer because the economic modelling cited by Logie shows that any costs will be offset by lower turnover of staff and increased productivity.  [NZ Herald]
Why would McIvor be likely to be an expert on this issue?  Because of her select, night-time audience.
 Every single victim of domestic abuse who has phoned me on talkback over the years has said they were so ashamed and embarrassed by their situation, they couldn't bring themselves to let friends or family know what was going on behind closed doors. Particularly the men.  The notion of asking for help was anathema to them and abusers know that. Despite the fact that it's the abusers who should be feeling shame, they are master manipulaters.  So the concept of someone who has been knocked about, emotionally and physically, being able to find it within themselves to approach their boss and come clean about their domestic situation seems unlikely.  [Emphasis, ours.]
The reference to men being victims of violence requires a "double-take".   Surely, it's women, females, girls who are the victims, not men.  Men dish it out; they don't suffer domestic violence.  That belief--particularly amongst the Chattering Classes--is an urban myth.

David Farrar writes:
Is (sic) is often forgotten that men are also victims of domestic violence. In fact the Dunedin Health and Development Study has found 34% of men in the study have been physically abused by a partner and 27% of women.
McIvor's night-time community, we expect, gives more insight into the pain and cost of domestic violence than a hundred Jan Logies pontificating upon a problem from a great height.  What Logie has been guilty of is gaslighting--writing a law that will make the secret victims of domestic violence feel more worthless than ever before.  If they could not bring themselves to go public on their abuse before the law, they will be worse off now.  Their self-image of being moral cowards will be drawn into much sharper relief.  Now, if they say anything, they will risk of frustration and mockery from the employers, let alone their work colleagues.

McIvor would have us take a very different course--one grounded in practical realities:
I absolutely agree that our domestic violence stats are a source of shame and our violent homes are a breeding ground for future offenders. But I really don't think Logie's bill is the answer.

And while I don't have a solution, I would suggest that others do. When Counties Manukau police attend a violent domestic situation, they give it a couple of days to allow all parties to cool off, then go into the home with trained counsellors and try to work out the root of the problem.  The children are asked their opinion – it's a holistic, wrap-around approach to domestic abuse which gives the people involved the chance to save themselves and their family.

Putting money and energy into that sort of initiative makes a whole lot more sense to me than making businesses cough up 10 days extra leave.
Yup.  That sounds about right.

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