Ministry working to improve sex education

By Lynn Bibley for the New Zealand Herald, Sunday 8 November, 2015:

 

The Ministry of Education is offering schools professional development programmes to help teachers deliver sexuality education after a major overhaul of the health curriculum six months ago.

Lesley Hoskin, associate deputy secretary student achievement, said the Ministry worked with sexual health experts, teachers and health professionals to update guidelines to give schools a clearer understanding of what they needed to consider when covering sexuality education.

The revision took into account changing social climates, recent youth health research and broader understandings about sexuality and sexuality education.

It also covered issues such as abuse, consent and healthy relationships.

Hoskin said as the health curriculum was not prescriptive there were a number of resources schools could use.

Schools were able to use contemporary issues important to students to explain or or illustrate different scenarios or issues.

Programmes used in schools include the ACC’s Mates and Dates initiative, which is aimed at preventing sexual and dating violence, Rape Prevention Education’s Sex ‘n’ Respect and Family Planning’s The Sexuality Road.

Students were also taught about consent and the perils of social media.

The Ministry was also working on further resources to support teachers.

Schools were currently being offered professional programmes to help them deliver sexuality education.

Health, which includes sexuality education, is the only part of the curriculum on which schools need to consult their parent community every two years.

 

 

Read the full article, HERE.

MP pushes anti-sex violence message

By Michelle Hector for Bay of Plenty Times, 28 October, 2015:

 

When Labour MP Kelvin Davis returned to parliament last year, he made it his mission to address the country’s shameful sexual violence rates.

The passionate ambassador shared his story with Tauranga abuse support staff yesterday at a hui hosted by the Tauranga Moana Abuse Prevention Strategy.

It was a story the Te Tai Tokerau MP began in 2001 when he took up the principal’s position at Kaitaia Intermediate in Northland.

During his first three weeks on the job he heard about 13 cases of sexual violence against children in the community – all relating to people they were close to.

He called a community meeting but was disheartened by the response, with some questioning whether he was equipped to deal with what might “fall out of the woodwork” if he pursued the issue.

In 2012, he cursed his decision to let things lie when convicted paedophile James Parker was arrested at the school six minutes down the road from the intermediate.

“I could have prevented other young boys from being abused by James Parker,” he said.

His teaching career was followed by a stint in parliament but in November 2013 the issue came to the forefront of his mind again when the Roast Busters scandal broke.

He decided there needed to be men in parliament speaking out against sexual violence and had planned to stand for re-election when he was called up in April 2014 to replace departing Labour MP Shane Jones.

“It’s about using the position of MP to highlight the cause,” he said.

He contacted the director of Maori sexual violence support service Korowai Tumanako, Russell Smith, and they lead a 440km hikoi from West Auckland to Cape Reinga, speaking at schools and communities about sexual violence offending.

During the hikoi, they set up an anonymous 0800 helpline number aimed at giving those who were having harmful sexual thoughts a way to seek help. Plans are already underway for a similar hikoi next year – led by Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe across Taranaki. Mr Davis has enlisted the support of National MPs Barbara Kuriger and Chester Borrows.

“This is cross-party, this is apolitical. It’s just a good issue,” he said. “I don’t want to be the face of it. Everyone should be the face of it, it’s about everyone doing their part.”

He admits the ripples are small but “it’s better to be doing something than nothing at all”.

 

 

Read the full article, HERE.

RPE is looking for an Executive Director!

Rape Prevention Education Whakatu Mauri (RPE) works in the greater Auckland area and nationally to prevent sexual violence through:

  • The delivery of health promotion/prevention programmes,
  • influencing policy and systems to support all those affected by sexual violence
  • promoting respectful sexual relationships, and
  • research and evaluation.

RPE works with Tangata Whenua and other allied community organisations and professionals to develop community services, education programmes, health promotion, research and advocacy.

We are looking for an Executive Director to lead our organisation. In this role, you will be responsible for:

  • Effective management of RPE including providing support and direction to staff in delivery of best practice prevention activities, and the professional oversight of prevention activities,
  • Strategic leadership of the organisation
  • Advocacy for sexual violence prevention, including in public forums, the media and to government agencies and funders, and
  • Implementing RPE’s Treaty & bicultural development strategy

To be successful in this role you will have:

  • Demonstrated strategic leadership ability
  • NGO Management experience at a senior level
  • Demonstrated competence in managing a team/small organisation, preferably in the NGO sector
  • Extensive knowledge and experience in the primary prevention of violence (particularly sexual violence)
  • Experience in developing and providing evidence-based prevention education programmes
  • Public speaking, communication and networking: a demonstrated ability to represent RPE in multiple forums
  • Expertise in working with government and not for profit sector organisations and networks
  • Competence in bicultural development and Treaty-based organisations, and working and engaging diverse cultures
  • Ability to work with Government departments and form relationships with Government officials and MPs to influence government policy.

For complete job description, or further information, please email info@rapecrisis.org.nz

Please submit your CV and covering letter by 30 September, 2015 to: info@rapecrisis.org.nz

 

#MyBodyMyTerms

A powerful video by Villainesse. “In a culture where rape survivors blame themselves for the criminal actions of their rapists, where young people aren’t sure what constitutes consent, where intimate photographs are shared online, and where a group of young men can form a club called the ‘Roastbusters’ and get away with it, we need to have some open and honest conversations.”

Sex slave terror: A tale of two women

By Kristina Rapley for Women’s Day, Wednesday September 9, 2015:

 

Sex slave terror: A tale of two women

Theirs is an unlikely friendship. Greta Gregory is a 22-year-old Auckland actress and Heather Walsh, a 49-year-old mother-of-six, who works as an advocate for survivors of sexual violence.

While Greta went to drama school and acts for a living, Heather acted her way through life for 23 years, hiding a deep, dark secret.

That secret was uncovered in June 2012, when Heather won the right to have her name suppression lifted. By doing so, she exposed William Cornelius, the man who kept a then 19-year-old Heather as a sex slave over the winter of 1985 on his remote farm in the Mangatiti Valley, near Raetihi.

Now Heather’s story of survival is among some of New Zealand’s most dramatic true stories being brought to life in a series of four one-off dramas on TVNZ’s Sunday Theatre.

In The Monster of Mangatiti, which screened on September 6 on TV One, audiences will see how Heather, played by Greta, was lured into a live-in tutor job on Cornelius’ farm, with no inkling of the living nightmare about to unfold.

After weeks of grooming by Cornelius, then 52, Heather consented to sex once, regretting it immediately and telling him it was a mistake. But the months that followed saw Heather endure endless threats, and horrific physical and psychological abuse, including rape, then pregnancy and miscarriage.

Narrated by Heather, the docu-drama is inter-cut with first-person interviews, detailing her attempts to escape, as well as her decision to take her attacker through the courts 23 years later.

The case, which uncovered more victims who faced horrific abuse at the hands of Cornelius, spanned four years and ended with him being let off the charges as he had mild dementia and was therefore deemed “unfit” to stand trial. He has since died.

Time to speak up

Following her escape, Heather eventually married and raised a family, but she says the guilt, shame and fear she carried for so long became too much to bear. “What he did was wrong and I needed to do something about it, to break my silence and bring him to justice,” she tells.

When the trial finished in 2012, Heather was approached by director Philly de Lacey, who floated the idea of making the docu-drama for Screentime NZ.

“It was important to me that the story wasn’t over-dramatised and was truthful, so the fact that they wanted my involvement was great,” explains Heather, who has remained in touch with Philly over the past two years while they secured funding.

“I am actually really pleased it took this long to happen because it has given me time to process, to heal and to come a lot further along from what I’ve been through.”

While Heather still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, she’s making progress and her work helping other victims of sexual violence is hugely rewarding.

Actress Greta admits she had major concerns about playing Heather in the dark and dramatic re-enactment.

“I knew it was going to be tough, but from the first moment I read the brief, I realised it was such an important story to tell,” she says.

Greta spoke to Heather over the phone before shooting began and admits she was nervous about making a good impression on the woman she was about to play.

“She was so nice, though, and really only interested in making sure I was going to be OK. She was really pleased when I told her that I’d decided to move out of my flat and move back in with my parents during filming, just for that emotional stability and support.”

Heather admits she was also nervous. “I did worry. I wanted to make sure that whoever they picked could handle it and to make sure they had enough support,” she says.

But the pair needn’t have been concerned. Reuniting for our Woman’s Day photo shoot, Heather and Greta get on like a house on fire, with Greta having had a unique insight into what Heather endured all those years ago.

“You got off lightly,” Heather teases, having recently watched the final product. “You were a lot cleaner than I was, let me tell you!”

“That’s the thing,” Greta agrees, “what I went through filming was zero compared to what Heather went through, absolutely zero. But it did help me understand better what something like that would be like.”

Most of the filming took place over two weeks on a farm in Bethells Beach on the West Coast of Auckland and Heather visited the set a couple of times. Heather says it was odd watching the filming of some of the scenes, but not as disturbing as you’d expect.

“They did a great job at recreating the surroundings and characters, but to me, it wasn’t real. What you will see on screen is actually nothing compared to what I endured, which was a lot worse than what they can show on TV,” Heather points out.

“I know for me, before I spoke out, hearing of stories similar to mine was extremely beneficial. It made me feel less alone. So that’s my hope with this, that it will help other survivors and possibly prevent things like this happening in the first place.”

To read the full article, click HERE.

Louise Nicholas to receives her Queen’s Birthday honours

Neil Ratley for The Dominion Post, Monday 7 September, 2015:

Louise Nicholas to receive her Queen’s Birthday honour

Rape survivors’ advocate Louise Nicholas will officially be made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) on Tuesday.

Nicholas will receive the honour for services to the prevention of sexual violence from Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae at an investiture ceremony at Government House.

The long-time advocate for sexual violence victims was rewarded with the ONZM in the Queen’s Birthday honours in June.

Nicholas rose to national prominence when she claimed that, as a vulnerable teenager in Rotorua, she was raped by four policemen.

Her decision to go public with her story and seek accountability for what happened to her saw her battle through five court cases.

The accused officers were eventually acquitted, but her case rocked the justice system to the core and, after a 2007 commission of inquiry, senior police were forced to confront how the force treated sexual violence victims.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Nicholas said it was going to be a very special day, which she would be sharing with her family.

The honour was also for all survivors and victims of sexual violence, she said.

“The award is recognition that finally the voices of victims of sexual violence are being heard. It’s for my colleagues and my survivors. There are many many of us receiving this award.”

It had been a “hard slog”, but she had taken heart from the great strides being made by the Law Commission and the Justice Ministry and their ongoing work into reviewing pre-trial and trial processes for sexual violence cases, she said.

The court system has came under fire for traumatising sexual offence victims who give evidence.

It would also be great to catch up with Sir Jerry again, Nicholas said. She was named as the Governor-General’s Anzac of the Year in April.

Others to receive their awards later this week will include Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum and coach Mike Hesson.

 

Read the full story, HERE.

 

 

From 3News, Tuesday 8 September, 2015:

Govt honour for Louise Nicholas

Rape survivors’ advocate Louise Nicholas has been honoured this morning for services towards the prevention of sexual violence.

She was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit at Government House after being named on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Ms Nicholas became a household name after claiming she was raped as a teenager by four policemen.

The officers were acquitted at trial but the case led to a shake-up of how police handle sexual violence complaints.

Ms Nicholas credits her father-in-law Lin, who was there to support her today, for her decision to go public with her story.

 

Read the full story, and view video, HERE.

 

 

Jessy Edwards for The Dominion Post, Tuesday 8 September, 2015:

Louise Nicholas receives her Queen’s Birthday honour

“Beautifully crazy” were the words rape survivors’ advocate Louise Nicholas used to describe the feeling of getting a Queen’s honour today.

Nicholas was officially made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to the prevention of sexual violence, receiving the honour from Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae at a ceremony at Government House on Tuesday.

Speaking afterwards, she said she never dreamed of being recognised so formally.

“The day I stood in front of the nation and told them what had gone on in my life, I would never have guessed in a million years I’d be standing here today.

“On 30th January 2004, the promise I made to everyone out there was that what happened to me will never happen to anyone else, and I will fight until my last breath. And to be recognised today is crazy. It is crazy, beautiful.”

Nicholas rose to national prominence when she claimed that, as a teenager in Rotorua, she was raped by four policemen.

Her decision to go public with her story and seek accountability for what happened saw her battle through five court cases.

The accused officers were eventually acquitted, but her case rocked the justice system to the core and, after a 2007 commission of inquiry, senior police were forced to confront how officers treated sexual violence victims.

Listening to her achievements listed at the ceremony, she was reflecting on her family, Nicholas said.

“I was actually thinking of my father-in-law because if it wasn’t for him asking me what my problem was all those years ago, I wouldn’t be standing here today, and also my mum who passed away in 2008 and the courage she showed in supporting me.

“And my husband Ross – what he’s been through. If I was him I would have buggered off years ago, because I’m hard work,” she laughed.

Nicholas was awarded her honour alongside police Detective Superintendent Andrew Lovelock, who was receiving honours for services to New Zealand Police and the community.

She acknowledged the juxtaposition between herself and a police officer receiving the same award at the same time.

“When I walked into the room and saw Andy Lovelock there receiving the same award as my own … I said, we’ve gone full circle.

“We now have the survivors we support saying that the police are doing an amazing job … Would that have been said ten years ago?”

She was also congratulated by police Commissioner Mike Bush – who she calls ‘Mikey B’ – and said it was special to have him there.

Mateparae gave Nicholas specially acknowledgement apart from the rest in his closing speech, noting that he doesn’t “normally single out an individual”.

Nicholas said she was touched.

“He’s just such a beautiful human being. To have an acknowledgement from the highest order is pretty special.”

Nicholas was named as the Governor-General’s Anzac of the Year in April.

Others to receive their awards later this week will include Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum and coach Mike Hesson.

 

Read the full story, and view video, HERE.

Heather Walsh’s tale of survival is told

From Kelly Dennett for stuff.co.nz, 30 August, 2015:

Heather Walsh’s tale of survival is told

After sharing painful details of the months of sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of The Monster of Mangatiti, Heather Walsh’s parting words are succinct. “I just want people to stop raping people. It’s really that simple.”

“Just stop it. The world will be a better place,” she says.

Heather is sitting in an inner city hotel, discussing her past with three strangers. One of them is a man, a Fairfax photographer. The situation is a huge turnaround for Walsh. “I’m working full time and hopping on planes now. I mean, sitting here with a strange man in my room, all those things I could never, ever do before”.

She quickly offers a “no offence” to the photographer, who is sitting on the floor due to a lack of chairs. “And I’m not happy about you having to kneel either!”

Walsh is kind. She frequently apologises for how tired she feels, and gracefully declines to speak about her family and what she does in her spare time – de rigueur for Sunday profiles. “I don’t really want to be personal, there’s enough personal stuff…if that’s okay.”

To say there’s enough personal stuff is an understatement. Her life, 23 weeks of it in particular, has already been picked apart. In the initial police questioning and the ensuing 27 court hearings. In interviews with the media and even interviews she didn’t do with the media. Google her name and the first search result is the headline Woman ‘kept as sex slave’.

Heather understands the attention, saying her story is “unusual” in some ways. “In other ways it’s very common.” Next week it will be immortalised yet again on the small screen in the docudrama The Monster of Mangatiti. It’s a glimpse at what happened during her months in captivity. Rapes, beatings, cruelty. It’s difficult to watch. (“Jeez, yeah, um, it’s not for children. Make sure you have support,” she says.)

In 1985 a teenaged Heather answered an ad for a live-in tutor. She thought she was embarking on an adventure. It was back country New Zealand. Nothing but beautiful bush and birdsong. Wild animals were the only habitants in the Mangatiti Valley, near the central North Island town of Raetihi, and one William Paul Cornelius.

Cornelius and his son lived in a shack a 30 mile trek from nearby town, Raetihi, south west of the Tongariro National Park. The drive to the ramshackle hut was pockmarked by locked gates, dense bush and precarious gorges. The ‘driveway’ was a private track, set an hour away from the main road. So remote was the location it was literally impossible to walk away from.

Her stay went fine, at first. Cornelius was nice, the kid was sweet and Heather could mail her parents regularly, or so she thought. Although there were some chores involved and no electricity, the country was beautiful, she thought.

The abuse started after a one-off consensual sexual encounter with Cornelius. After that he insisted the pair be together and he moved her into his room. She was repetitively raped, and fell pregnant, later miscarrying after a violent sexual assault.

Daily chores turned into slavery. Food had to be on the table when Cornelius returned from hunting. He claimed she was overweight and made her run laps around the farm. He slaughtered healthy animals in front of her as a warning, and destroyed letters from her family, isolating her further.

Eventually she summoned the courage to leave, stealing the opportunity to drive away in his ute while he was hunting. For years she hid, fearful he would make good on promises to kill her. She married and had six children but after the sudden death of her husband in 1998 she no longer felt protected. She went to police with her story in 2008.

There were other victims. Cornelius was charged with rape, abduction and unlawful sexual connection in 2009, the charges later increasing to span hundreds of rapes alleged by four victims. Three others were known to police but they declined to lay formal complaints. Four years and 27 hearings later the case against Cornelius was dismissed after he was deemed unfit to stand trial because of mild dementia. The mild part is something Heather is keen to emphasise. “I feel it’s important, as the general public understands dementia to be a very debilitating condition to be in, which he was not.”

Judge David Cameron said “on the balance of probabilities” Cornelius was likely guilty. Cornelius died months later, aged 79 and in the same hut where he had terrorised his victims.

Not long after, a production company contacted Heather with an idea. Although survivors of sexual abuse typically aren’t named in court cases to protect their anonymity, Heather had applied to have her suppression lifted, so she could talk openly about her case. When Screentime came calling she wasn’t surprised.

“It’s an unusual story,” she says. “I thought it would be something that people would think was interesting.”

It’s one thing to tell your own story, and another to have others tell it for you, no? Yes, it was a huge gamble, she says. “They’re creating a story that has only lived in your head because you were the only one there. You, and the other person.”

“I suppose I went into it with an open mind and thought well, I’ll see how I feel and if they’re going to portray it with the messages that I would want to be told – with that integrity – and that they weren’t going to use it as something to shock people.”

Now working as an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse, Heather says it was important to make a film not about rape, but survival. In sharing her story, she hopes others will see that recovery is possible, and it’s okay to speak out. “It’s about adversity, it’s about those challenges and how you best manage those as an individual.”

She’s “good” now, she says, unable to offer too much more but the basics. She struggled with complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but therapy has given her the tools to move forward. She works full time and is often in court with survivors. She doesn’t want to reveal where she’s living but her spare time is filled with her friends and family. She still loves the outdoors.

Later, she emails more thoughts. “There seems to be a general public belief that survivors of sexual abuse are able to put it all behind them and move on. I don’t find this to be true at all. Survivors don’t move on, leaving the abuse in the past. It stays with you as you move forward, but with specialised help and support you learn to live with it in a healthy way where it doesn’t sabotage your future.”

Others have noticed a difference in Heather since the case was closed. “The person she is now is incredibly different,” says The Monster of Mangatiti’s executive producer Philly de Lacey, who met Heather immediately following the trial’s dismissal. “By then she was absolutely exhausted. (Now) she’s smiling. She’s in control of her life.”

Through Screentime, de Lacey says she’s accustomed to dealing with difficult subject matters. The company has produced Beyond the Darklands where psychologist Nigel Latta profiled the country’s most notorious killers, and in recent weeks it has aired Sunday Theatre dramas How to Murder your Wife, and Venus and Mars – both true New Zealand crime stories.

Hearing of Walsh’s story as it went through court, de Lacey said it struck her as “bizarre…that something like that could happen in New Zealand and that somebody had been able to carry on this behaviour over so many years.”

Heather narrates the drama, devised from interviews with producers. She was generous with her time, de Lacey says, offering them full access to her court files and detailed “frank” admissions. Heather’s story gave de Lacey nightmares, she says.

“Mentally, she was absolutely trapped. I think when people hear stories of domestic violence people can be quite glib and say ‘why couldn’t she just leave?’ (but) I think you can tell in this story, when you’re psychologically beaten down, you can’t just leave.”

De Lacey flew over Mangatiti during filming and describes its remoteness as “phenomenal”. Actual filming took place at West Auckland’s Bethell’s Beach, at Clevedon in east Auckland, and Raetihi. Heather was invited on set for two days where she met the actors. A counsellor was on hand and de Lacey says she felt so nervous she asked a crew member to tie his long silver hair back- fearful his likeness to Cornelius would be too much.

Heather has only seen the final version once, accompanied by de Lacey and a counsellor. It was “surreal” and nerve wracking for her, but she’s pleased with the result having helped ensure the script’s accuracy. Although Walsh never saw justice in the true sense of the word, in the country’s courtrooms, she says that’s not what it’s about for her.

“I don’t really feel that this is a story about justice. I think it’s about telling my truth. It’s one individual telling their own survival story, I don’t see that has anything to do with justice. You’re sharing something that happened to you in the hope that it may help others along the way.”

The Monster of Mangatiti airs on September 6, on TV One.

 

 

Read the full article, and view video, HERE.

Victim of sex attacks relives ordeal

From Laurel Stowell for Whanganui Chronicle, Tuesday September 1, 2015:

Victim of sex attacks relives ordeal

One of at least seven women subjected to sexual violence by a cowboy figure of the remote Whanganui River tells her story on television on Sunday night.

The Monster of Mangatiti is the 70-minute saga of Heather Walsh’s treatment by William “Bill” Cornelius in the Mangatiti Valley during five months in 1985.

The programme could be shocking, and police have warned Mr Cornelius’ other known victims that it will be shown.

Cornelius faced 22 charges, including rape and abduction, in Whanganui District Court in June 2012. Fourteen of the charges related to Mrs Walsh’s time in the Mangatiti Valley.

Victims of sexual abuse always have their names suppressed, but Mrs Walsh asked to have her name suppression lifted because she wanted people to know what Cornelius was like.

She told a Chronicle court reporter at the time he had used his home against “so many young women”.

“In that way the girls who ride their horses in the valley or go down there will be warned,” she said.

She has spent years recovering from the 1985 ordeal but was now “in control of her life”, according to the programme’s executive producer Philly de Lacey.

Mrs Walsh is now working with another sexual abuse survivor, Louise Nicholas, as an advocate for victims.

Ms de Lacey was intrigued by the Cornelius case when she heard about it. She contacted Mrs Walsh, who agreed to tell her story of survival hoping it would help other people.

Heather was a teenager when she got the job of tutor to Cornelius’ son.

She was taken to his hut in the Mangatiti Valley, leaving Murumuru Rd on a vehicle track through 12km of dense bush. From the road end it is at least another 40km to Raetihi.

Cornelius was charming and treated her “incredibly well” at first.

“He was grooming her for later on,” Ms de Lacey said.

Then came rapes, starvation, and threats of torture and death.

The young woman became pregnant, but miscarried. Finally she escaped by stealing a utility while Cornelius and a friend were out hunting.

The Monster of Mangatiti is narrated by her, and acted by others. It screens on Sunday at 8.30pm on TV1, as part of the Sunday Theatre season.

The programme was filmed from December 2014 to March this year, and used information from Mrs Walsh, and from police and court files. Some footage was shot in the Raetihi area, but most was filmed in rural south Auckland.

“We’ve spoken to a lot of people and we had researchers in Raetihi,” Ms de Lacey said.

The film crew never went to Cornelius’ house but they flew over and saw it from the air. They had also seen it on television.

His remote farming venture was profiled on Country Calendar in the early 1980s. The Holmes show was back later in the decade, when Cornelius was having a feud with neighbours.

The Monster of Mangatiti crew already knew some of the stories of the backblocks Ruatiti Valley. They had made a show about the disappearance of Lionel Russell from nearby Mangapurua Valley in 1975, after talking to Cornelius’ nephew.

When she heard how Cornelius had kept women captive, Ms de Lacey wondered how such a thing could happen in New Zealand.

The isolation of the place was one answer.

“It allowed him to hold those women in a very vulnerable position. It was an environment that he controlled.”

Another was the effect of psychological abuse.

“What really intrigued me about this case is that it explores the psychological breakdown of a victim – he was a master manipulator. You could ask why she didn’t just leave, but it’s not that simple.

“We’ve got a massive issue with domestic violence in New Zealand. The film, hopefully, goes some way to explain it from a victim’s point of view.”

It took four years from Mrs Walsh’s approach to police in 2008 to get the charges brought against Cornelius. By that time he was 79, and suffering from early stage dementia.

Judge David Cameron decided he was mentally unfit for trial but that, on the balance of probabilities, there was enough evidence to find he committed the offences he was charged with.

He was allowed to return to his remote valley, under supervision, and died there a few months later.

 

Read the full article, HERE.

 

Heather’s story “The Monster of Mangatiti” premieres on TV1, Sunday 6 September, 2015.

Sexual violence in schools a ‘countrywide issue’

By Lauren Priestley for NZHerald.co.nz, Wednesday September 2, 2015:

Sexual violence in schools a ‘countrywide issue’

Sexual allegations involving Opotiki College students – including an “online component” – surfaced this week, and police have launched an investigation.

There has been no indication the alleged offending occurred at the school or involved school staff, police said.

It comes after the 2013 Roast Busters scandal involving a group of West Auckland students using Facebook to brag about their sexual exploits with intoxicated, often underage girls. One was as young as 13.

Dr McGregor said it was a huge problem, with about one in four girls and one in eight boys affected by sexual violence in New Zealand before they hit their teens.

“Rather than stigmatise Opotiki or even West Auckland where the Roast Busters were, I think it’s important the public know that probably every school in the country is dealing with sexual violence whether they know it or not,” Dr McGregor said.

“It’s so hard for people to disclose sexual violence … I’m feeling for the young people and their families, who are affected by sexual violence, they’ll be going through a very, very difficult time at the moment.”

She said progress had been made since the Roast Busters case – including more police training, Government lobbying and sexual prevention pilot programmes introduced in many schools nationwide – but there was still more to be done.

It was important for young people to be taught about their rights and responsibilities as well as how to negotiate consent, Dr McGregor said.

Social media was a danger, with sexual violence films being easily uploaded online – but it also meant more young people could speak out, she said.

“We know that young people don’t usually report to counsellors or police, and often they don’t report to their families first. Usually the first person they tell is their best friend. So we also have to educate our young people how to help a friend.

“I think there are added dangers for our young people because they can post the filming of sexual violence online, so the humiliation and the shaming can continue but there’s positives as well. I think it goes both ways.”

It was understood some of the Opotiki victims may still be attending school with the alleged perpetrators.

An “online component” involved was understood to be a private Facebook page, TV3 reported.

Read the full article, HERE.

Childhood sex abuse survivor aims to help others by publishing autobiography

By Jared Nicoll for stuff.co.nz, 25 August, 2015:

Childhood sex abuse survivor aims to help others by publishing autobiography

A survivor of childhood sex abuse is writing an autobiography to encourage survivors to share their stories.

Wellingtonian Christina Gillmore is seeking support to professionally publish Bright: Shining the light on my story of sexual abuse.

The marketing manager’s book outlines the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of a young family member when she was a little girl growing up in Canada.

It’s a story of immense hurt, recovery through counselling, and ultimately forgiveness.

She remembers being raped when she was five.

“But I couldn’t tell [on him] because [he] would get into trouble.

“And I would get into trouble for not saying anything. I believed I was bad because I was having bad touching.”

An older brother finally raised the alarm to Gillmore’s mother when her abuser was 12.

The boy, who had himself been abused by his father, was sent off to a foster home.

“The feelings are so harmful that people bottle them up. It’s so traumatic – you don’t want to feel it,” Gillmore said.

“And I know a lot of people are scared of their feelings and memories.”

She developed drug and alcohol issues as a coping mechanism when she was a young teenager; finally seeking counselling in her early-20s.

“But the confidence to change and mend doesn’t come before the steps.

“It works the other way around: you take the step, and the confidence develops from stepping out.”

And the first step for her was talking to a counsellor about being abused.

A couple of years later, she flew to New Zealand on a working holiday visa and met her “very supportive” husband.

Maturity and the “motherly instincts” that came with raising her six-year-old son were strong factors in drafting her book.

“It’s time for us as a society to be ready to help others and develop that supportive system that survivors need in order to heal.

“There are so many feelings of shame from sexual abuse, and our society is getting to the point that we’re ready to talk about sex without shame.”

The abuse left her with a “huge hole to fill” that she learned to fill with love.

It was difficult to talk to her mother about what happened; her mother was sexually abused by her foster father and later raped by a stranger while out late in Vancouver when she was 16.

“In her [mother’s] mind it was partially her fault because she shouldn’t have been out late.

“Mum just let it go quietly.”

Gillmore has so far raised about half of the $1000 she needs to get her draft professionally edited before submitting it to a publisher.

“I’ve been through my own recovery and I’ve reached a point in my life that I want to share my story to help others share theirs – and help others heal.”

After completing her book, she aims to connect with other victims and share their stories through a collective work called The Healing Project. She is also working on writing a biography for a friend who is a survivor.

 

 

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