Red flags of unhealthy relationships revealed

2015 saw 110,114 family violence incidences investigated by NZ Police, and six homicides were recorded by an intimate partner.

The nationwide statistics are shocking and family violence still remains a largely hidden problem.Nonetheless it is still a significant concern and local agencies are stretched beyond capacity in order to meet the demand for services.

A homicide which remains etched in the minds of many New Zealanders today is that of Sophie Elliott’s brutal murder by ex-boyfriend Clayton Weatherston. The signs of abuse were there but they simply didn’t recognise them.

Sophie’s mother, Leslie Elliott began researching the topic of women and abuse shortly after the death of her daughter and soon realised that all of the signs of an abusive relationship were right in front of their eyes. Lesley surmised that if she and Sophie couldn’t see the signs, then thousands of other women might not see them either.

In partnership with the New Zealand Police, the Sophie Elliott Foundation (headed by Lesley) developed a one day interactive workshop ‘Loves-Me-Not’ for year 12 students. The workshop looks at what constitutes a healthy and equal relationship, and what can trigger an unhealthy, controlling one.

Along with this, the North Canterbury Family Violence Network is working to raise awareness and understanding of the dynamics of family violence. The Network aims to influence positive social change and empower the community to stand up against all forms of family violence.

Lesley Elliott has travelled throughout New Zealand to help others understand the warning signs of a potentially dangerous relationship, and will be speaking at two events next week in Kaiapoi and Oxford.

Safe Community Project Facilitator Wendy Howe says “Lesley will share her daughter’s story and it’s a very powerful presentation. Sophie and Lesley had no previous experience or knowledge of abusive behaviour, they didn’t recognise the signs. It’s a story we should all listen to because it could happen to anyone."

Lesley will speak at Kaiapoi High School Auditorium on Wednesday 12 October at 7pm and Oxford Area School Hall on Thursday 13 October at 7.30pm. Local family violence professionals will be there to provide support.

Contact: Wendy Howe

Phone: 03 311 8900