In 2014, Te Marae Ora, CINCW and UNFPA released an extensive first report on the status of violence against women and their families in the country.
Key findings from the report showed that over 30 per cent of women in the Cook Islands had been subjected to some form of physical and sexual violence in their lifetime.
Wichman highlighted what this national figure looks like on a regional basis: 24 per cent in the Northern Cook Islands, 44 per cent in the Southern Cook Islands, and over 30 per cent in Rarotonga. The meeting also heard about the severity of the abuse and reasons why it happened to women, as well as how women in general coped with it.
The meeting noted that there was still a lot of work to be done, hopefully with the help of community support. Wichman challenged the meeting to consider the fact that though over 30 per cent of homes throughout the country lived with the spectre of violence in their homes, there was hope from the lessons to be learned from the 70 per cent of homes where it did not occur.
She challenged meeting participants to focus on efforts that could assist the work of frontline agencies such as Te Marae Ora, Police and counselling agencies who dealt with some of these homes ‘living in the shadows’.
Bringing them out of the shadows, involved a community responsibility to help the work of frontline agencies and especially the survivors of domestic violence, Wichman added.