Organised by Punanga Tauturu, the Cook Islands Women‘s Counselling Centre, in conjunction with the Cook Islands Police Service and Confluence Cook Islands, the workshop held at Sinai Hall also aimed at educating the wider community on its shared responsibility for domestic violence, and how to take action to prevent and eliminate it.
Mark Henderson of Confluence Cook Islands said there were two essential things people needed to understand, adding that the effects of domestic abuse and domestic violence were two separates matters.
“Domestic abuse relates more to psychological effect or emotional abuse and then when you have physical assault, that’s when we are talking about violence,” Henderson said.
“And I think people tend to be more aware of domestic violence than domestic abuse. The workshop has helped people understand that domestic abuse is often part of peoples’ experience.
“It causes scars that are not seen by x-ray and are not visible. Therefore sometimes they are overlooked and in some cases, domestic abuse has more harmful effects than the physical assault.”
Confluence Cook Islands provides counselling, training and support services to help support the mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing and growth of Cook Islanders. Henderson said he had noticed an increase in the number of people, including the victims of domestic violence, seeking counselling and advice.
“We are seeing more coming to counselling and that’s pleasing. What we are looking at doing is extending services beyond the one-on-one counselling to include some group work but it depends on resourcing,” he said.
“Often peoples’ journey of healing doesn’t necessarily end at counselling. It often extends beyond that, where there might be a need for women, in particular, to support each other to help in the healing process.”
Meanwhile Punanga Tauturu Inc Centre Coordinator Rebeka Buchanan said she was pleased with the start made with the workshop and was looking forward to holding similar discussions around the community.
“In three days it’s hard to capture everything, but that’s a good start and we still need to look at the important things we picked up from there and (look at) where to from here,” she said.
“The ones who were at the workshop really enjoyed it. They had a lot to say and part of the training is to feel comfortable about the whole issue and really take ownership of it rather than relying solely on other services.” PTI president Helen Greig said the workshop had inspired ideas as to what individuals and groups could do to help stop and prevent domestic violence in their community.
“It provided a forum for those who attended to share their experiences, expertise and ideas to fuel culture change and meaningful action. As PTI continues to grow its partnerships in the community, we see these people playing an important role as resources to increase awareness and strengthen support services available to those affected by domestic violence,” Greig said.