“As a community, we have an obligation to help one another” – White Ribbon Day 2021

White Ribbon Day is the international day when people wear a white ribbon to show that they do not condone violence towards women.

Pasifika Futures’ (PFL) Ngalu Fānifo mental health segment on 531 P.I. recently touched on this theme with Dr Siale Foliaki looking at the impact of the current Covid-19 climate on family relationships.

“During this Covid period, when you add an additional stress on family life, it puts pressure on our interpersonal relationships.

We know that there has been an increase in relationship challenges and at the more severe end, an increase in partner violence.”

Dr Foliaki says that for women who are usually the victims in such situations, the challenge is pushing past the stigma of experiencing relationship breakdowns.

“The challenge for women is asking for help. There’s enormous shame and stigma attached to living in a situation where there are relationship problems in a domestic environment.

If you think about the Pacific culture, we’re a collective culture. We don’t want the people that we’re close to knowing that we’re having problems. We don’t want to burden them with those problems.

And because we’re so close, we feel the judgement of others so much more acutely and that judgement is the thing that stigmatises us, making it really difficult for people to reach out.”

Dr Foliaki encourages those affected by domestic abuse to seek support for their situation.

“If you’re in a violent situation or a situation that’s psychologically so abusive that it’s intolerable, reaching out for help is really important.

We can offer help to people in a discreet and confidential way, which you can do using 1737 and accessing other telephone support services. Someone will pick up and listen to the challenges that you’ve got and help you navigate the system.”

For men that may be inflicting abuse towards their partner or loved ones, Dr Foliaki says that support is available to them also.

“I think the overwhelming majority of men don’t feel good about their actions. That behaviour is particularly difficult for them to change during this period.

I’d ask them to seek some help; the same channels are open to them as well. As a community we have an obligation to help one another.”

If you are in a situation where you are experiencing domestic abuse, you can free call or text 1737 to speak to a trained counsellor. They can help refer you to the appropriate people if you are seeking further support.

The Ngalu Fānifo segment airs every Wednesday at 12:40pm on 531’s Pacific Days show with Ma’a Brian Sagala. You can listen in on the radio or livestream on the 531 Facebook page here.

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Date: Thursday 25 November 2021