While Ribbon 2020

See the Church's 2020 White Ribbon campaign' Challenge the Outdated' Challenge the #Outdated, resources here.

Shared Spaces, Not Scared Spaces: A Message From White Ribbon Ambassador, Very Rev Ray Coster

On 28 August 1963, Martin Luther King made his famous “I have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, in which he said: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men [people] are created equal’.”

Ending domestic violence is my dream
I, too, have a dream: that we would eliminate all domestic harm and family violence in this nation. I have a dream that men will live and act respectfully towards all women and girls, knowing that all people are created equally in God.

At this time, we know how important it is to stay at home to help break the chain of transmitting the Covid-19 virus to others, especially protecting the elderly and the vulnerable with underlying health issues. But, we also recognise that staying at home can lead to increased family violence. As we embrace rules to combat the virus, let us follow rules to combat family harm.

The current Covid-19 pandemic inspires me to write this special White Ribbon message to our Church. We know how prevalent and damaging family harm is to children, families and this nation. Like Covid-19, a lot of family harm remains unseen, unreported – but causes lasting damage.

Easter reminds of hope
In our churches we have just celebrated Easter, when we were reminded that new life and new hope can come out of what appears as a massive disaster. I have a dream that as we are all working together to eliminate Covid-19 in this nation, so we could all work together to eliminate the violence of men towards women. As a nation we are quite rightly paying a huge price and giving up so many freedoms to fight the virus. My dream is that we would fight just as hard to eliminate all family harm and see the day when all people treat others with respect and love.

Take care during these difficult times
This week, White Ribbon launched a new campaign called, #OurHouseRules. I encourage all people in our churches to search out the #OurHouseRules resources available on the internet, to talk about them in your “bubble” and share them with others. It’s a campaign to help prevent family violence and encourage all New Zealanders to practice respectful relationships.

In this unprecedented national emergency, everyone in New Zealand has found themselves cooped up inside for the Covid-19 lockdown period. In any household, “cabin fever” creates tension – and this becomes a huge risk for families with a history of domestic violence.

I remind men who struggle to control their emotions that they can choose alternative behaviours. With everyone confined together, men need to make decisions that foster safety and happiness for their partners and children.

Some simple behaviours can create a safe and happy lockdown for everyone.

Ideas for managing during lockdown
Here are some ideas - #OurHouseRules - for men who struggle with emotions/anger/violence while our movement is limited under Covid-19 restrictions.
 
1.    Don’t take it out on them – take a walk. Kia kaua e riri, me hikoi ki te pai

  • While we are in lockdown everyone is still allowed to go outside for exercise. If you’re getting frustrated, let your family know that you need a walk, take five and go for a walk around the block. It will help you clear your head.
  • Exercise is good and we feel so much better after it. Each morning during lockdown my wife and I have been going for a bike ride in the morning and a walk in the afternoon.
  • Recognise when you are feeling frustrated. Know when to take time out.
  • Be respectful too – check how your partner is doing, maybe they could use some fresh air.
  • If the kids need to burn off some energy, take them for a bike around the block.
  • Find ways to get outside and take that time out, but stick to the lockdown rules. If you think you are going to harm a loved one, reach out and call - 0800 HEY BRO.

2.    Stay at home, but stay connected. Noho takitahi, engari, tūhono tonu

  • Even if we can’t meet up for a chat in person, we have many ways to stay connected - from the classic phone call, a simple text, to video calls and online games. It’s important that we stay connected, even if we’re in isolation. I know some families that all join together on Zoom regularly to stay connected and catch up on how everybody is going. A number of churches have established a phone calling system so that every member receives a call from someone in their church.
  • If you’re getting worked up and you need to vent, call a mate.
  • Give your partner some time out to have a coffee or a cuppa with a friend over a video call.
  • Set up a video call with the kids and their grandparents, cousins or frien ds.
  • If you’re concerned about someone in a bad situation, get in touch with them and check in.
  • Emergency services and refuges are essential services that are always available, lockdown or not. Contact Women’s Refuge on 0800 733 843 or Shine on 0508-744-633. If you are in immediate danger, call 111 and ask for the police.

3.    Not scared spaces – shared spaces. Tē wāhi whakamataku, he wāhi manaaki kē
All of us have the right to feel safe, happy and cared for in our own homes. As families, we all get on each other’s nerves – even without a lockdown – but in these challenging times we need to look out for each other and make sure we’re creating positive places to spend time together. As parents, our kids learn their behaviour from us. Be respectful of your partner, be kind to your kids and together let’s create a space where we can say #ourhouserules!

Will you join me in my dream to see the worldwide Covid-19 crisis being an inspiration to eliminate family harm and domestic violence? To see all people treat each other with the values of Christ: love, respect, affection for others, patience, humility, compassion, kindness, forgiveness…

Let that day come, Lord. Quickly!

Ray Coster
White Ribbon Ambassador