Local It's not OK community campaigns involve a range of people as “champions” who speak up about family violence issues and who are trained to provide initial support to people affected by family violence.
Lawyer Megan Leaf of Te Puke is one of the champions in the Bay of Plenty town.
She is interviewed in a short video for lawyers about how being a champion has affected her personally and as a lawyer.
Ms Leaf explains how the training gave her a greater level of understanding and empathy to support abusers about their options, and also an understanding of why victims return to abusive relationships.
“I knew a lot about the cycles of violence, the effects of violence, all the negatives, but I didn’t really get, until I went to the seminars, why women continue to go back,” she says.
“Now I understand that. So, I probably got more of a push towards the counselling and self-esteem, and addressing bad relationships within their lives that cause them conflict.
“I just couldn’t understand why they’d go back to this evil person time and time again, and it’s because they feel like they are worth nothing. That has to be addressed.”
Ms Leaf also speaks of other ways, above the issuing of a protection order, that can help vulnerable women, such as knowing where to ask for help and building supportive networks. She says this is a totally foreign concept to lawyers who think purely in terms of processes, court proceedings and achieving goals.
She says she is often approached, not at the office, but through her involvement in squash and netball and at her children’s schools.
“People know that I am a champion because they have seen my poster at the school,” she says.
“With that connection it is easy to identify me in a school environment rather than as a lawyer. The teachers can also now identify me, so if they have a disclosure, which has happened quite a few times, they will phone me and get information about where they can send people for help.”
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