Read about the work and travel of VSA's staff.
Published on 13th August 2015
Ryan Brown, Programme Manager for Polynesia, blogs about volunteers working to stop violence against women and children.
Recently I had the pleasure of welcoming back Tapu Tuisuga to New Zealand after he spent 12 months living in Samoa. Tapu has been on a VSA assignment with the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) where he worked as a Counselling Advisor to improve SVSG’s capacity to deliver counselling services to survivors of violence. Violence against women and children in Samoa, and across the Pacific, is a huge issue – for example, 46% of women in Samoa say they have been the victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives (NZ Aid Programme, 2015).
One of the many successes of Tapu’s assignment was his work in helping to initiate and establish a stopping violence programme within SVSG. The programme included working with groups of men who had been perpetrators of violence. Group counselling sessions would enable men to explore their behaviour to become more aware and to develop appropriate skills and strategies to manage their anger and frustrations. Tapu said that the success of the programme was quite profound. He witnessed numerous light bulb moments in group sessions and he saw many men make big changes in their lives. A lot of men and their families expressed their gratitude to both Tapu and SVSG for the help they had received, often highlighting the difference it had made in their lives.
There is no simple solution to stopping violence against women and children (VAWC) but working with the perpetrators of violence (usually men) is widely acknowledged as an essential part of the solution. Deep seated issues, which may have never been discussed, need to be explored and addressed in order for a change in attitude and behaviour to occur. Ending VAWC requires the support and effort of both men and women and this includes creating safe spaces in which men can open up and learn skills and strategies to manage their behaviour.
Violence can impact on women’s health and well-being in many different ways and the physical and emotional effects can last a lifetime. Women’s social and economic participation can also be affected, which can create implications for their children’s well-being and development. There is also a broader cost which governments and civil society organisations pick up when they deliver services to victims of violence. A 2009 study in Australia estimated the cost of violence against women and children at AUD 13.6 billion per year (UN Women, 2015).
VSA is committed to ending violence across the Pacific and has partnered with organisations in Kiribati, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands to build capacity to end violence against women and children.