Last week, the Stratford Press reported on the loss of services in the Stratford area for people affected by domestic violence, abuse and other factors. We have interviewed two of the people directly impacted by these cuts, who were willing to share their stories. Because of the sensitive nature of the content, the names used are not their real names.
Sue is in her 40s and has been married to Jason for 12 years. He has been undergoing anger management classes with a local counsellor.
"He would get really frustrated about things and yell directly at me," says Sue, adding that it was when their youngest child, then just four months old, burst into tears at hearing her father shout at Sue while she was feeding her, that made Sue seek help.
Sue had wanted to ask for help before. "I thought anyone I went to speak to would tell me to leave him, and I didn't want that. I wanted him to be the husband and father he could be, not the one who scared us all." This time, though, she didn't talk herself out of it, and wentto the Stratford Community House to talk to a member of the team at HRC.
"They never told me I should leave, they asked me what I wanted," she says. "I never felt judged or belittled for my choices."
With the team's help Sue felt able to talk to Jason about his anger and, after some initial resistance, Jason also went to talk to HRC. He was soon able to start an anger management course, which he describes as "being the best course I have ever been on". He says having the availability of the service in Stratford has been awesome. "I wouldn't have gone into New Plymouth or elsewhere for it because I didn't think it was that important." He says while he started going just to keep Sue happy, within a few sessions he realised the need and began to value it.
Sue says she couldn't have gone to HRC had they not been in Stratford. "I popped in on a bit of an impulse and just had a chat to begin with. It felt like I was going to see a friend, not going to an appointment."
Karen was referred to the Safer Centre when she and her husband found out their seven-year-old daughter had been molested. She says that they have to travel to New Plymouth for the counselling appointments, the first of which they waited nearly three months for. "It was only because we were prioritised as urgent that we got in then, someone else had to be put off for us to be seen."
Karen feels the wait is very long when dealing with a child who has been molested and needs immediate help. She also thinks there is nowhere near enough help available locally for victims of abuse. Faced with regular drives into New Plymouth to see a counsellor to help her daughter start the emotional healing process, she concludes that more needs to be done for victims. "It seems like the criminals get more help than their victims."
Voice your opinion on the HRC closure in Stratford due to funding cuts, to firstname.lastname@example.org or text 'SP HRC' to 021 241 4568.