NZ Book Fair – A SAPN Fundraiser

The SAPN New Zealand Book Fair

Grab a bargain or the perfect Christmas present and show your support for the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network!

The SAPN New Zealand Book Fair will feature a wide range of popular and limited edition New Zealand books generously donated by Booksellers NZ. Books in as-new condition, including:

– Children’s books- illustrated and chapter books
– Poetry
– Non-fiction
– NZ Literature
– Art books
– Some rare books

Books will be priced from $5. There will also be gift wrapping and snacks available for a gold coin donation.

All funds raised will go towards SAPN’s work in the community, providing consent and healthy relationships education programmes to youth and adults.

Venue: 19 Tory Street upstairs space (NB there is a small lip at the entrance of the building, there will be a person to assist at the door during the event and lift access to Level 1)

Time: Saturday 16th December, 12-5pm

Wellington City Council Safety in the City Award

Safety in the City Awards. Wharewaka function centre. Photo by Mark Coote for WCC.

We are so pleased to have received a Safety in the City Award from the Wellington City Council.

Below is the speech general manager Fiona McNamara gave on the night:

It’s not long ago that sexual violence was barely recognised as an issue. In recent years, things have come a long way and this award shows that attitudes towards sexual violence are changing and that the wider community is placing real value on education about consent and healthy relationships.

I’d like to acknowlege the whole SAPN team, all our staff including our educators who go out and have challenging conversations with young people and other groups, our volunteers who generously donate their time and the Trust Board. I’d like to acknowlege the three agencies that are part of our network and that support our prevention work Wellington Rape Crisis, Wellington Sexual abuse HELP Foundation and WellStop, and also to acknowledge the chair of our Board Helen Sullivan who was one of the founders of SAPN back in the early 2000s and has played a key role in its strategic direction ever since.

Thank you again for this award, it’s an amazing way to end our busiest year yet and great encouragement to continue to grow the reach of our programmes next year. We know that every instance of sexual violence is preventable and we are absolutely committed to ending it and supporting safe and thriving communities.

Judy O’Brien’s Speech at the #WeToo March

I’m Judy O’Brien, Coordinator for Sexual Abuse Prevention Network – a collaboration of two survivor support agencies – Wellington Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Help Foundation and an agency that works with offenders – WellStop.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network offers a range of programmes for professionals, and young people to develop skills to identify risky situations and strategies to intervene safely.  We also offer programmes that focus on improving understanding of consent and ethical sexual decision making.When preparing what I was going to say tonight, a friend suggested I just get up here and scream for three minutes because that’s honestly all I’ve wanted to do for the past couple of weeks. The recent media attention given to the stories of people calling out the abusive behaviour of men in powerful positions has brought to light the shockingly high prevalence of sexual violence throughout or communities  and it’s just not  good enough. I am so humbled and inspired by the raw honesty and shameless bravery of survivors of sexual assault coming forward and sharing their own stories. You have offered hope and support to so many others who have felt shamed and isolated by their own experiences. But we shouldn’t have to share our stories for people to take this seriously! Or to recognise that sexual violence Affects. Us. All! Instead of expecting survivors to share their stories, we as a society should be demanding that people who sexually harm others recognise that their behaviour is harmful, and encourage others to change. 

Rape and sexual abuse in our communities is a much wider issue than just what we see on our newsfeeds – this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Just one “me too” is one too many.  New Zealand has a shockingly high incidence of sexual abuse and rape and Wellington has one of the highest number reported to Police. In NZ, 1 in 4 women, 1 in 8 men, 1 in 2 transgender people and up to 90% of people with some disabilities will be affected by sexual abuse in their lifetime. Only 9% of these incidents are reported to Police and only 1 in 10 is committed by a stranger to the victim.We need cultural and behavioural change so that this kind of assault does not happen in the first place. We need a high level commitment to ongoing consent education for our young people. Most sexual negotiations between young people are non-verbal.  People need to understand the complexities and nuances of consent and the links between alcohol and sexual abuse. If someone is heavily under the influence of alcohol or drugs – it is illegal to have sex with them. In NZ, alcohol is the most commonly used drug to facilitate sexual abuse and half of all rapes in NZ are associated with alcohol.

The whole community can be part of preventing sexual abuse. The most effective way to stop rape is to address the behaviour of the rapist.

We can  also address behaviors that may not themselves be illegal but could be  precursors to sexual violence.  People often do harm without knowing that their behaviour is harmful. Call people up on bad behavior. If your friend is pursuing someone who is clearly too drunk to make informed decisions – pull them aside and let them know this is not ok.

We need to address behaviors, beliefs and attitudes that contribute to rape culture. If people you know joke about rape or sexual abuse – tell them that this is unacceptable as it trivializes the issues and isolates the survivors who may be present, making it harder for them ever to disclose their abuse. It may lead to potential abusers thinking that their behavior acceptable. If people you know make comments that undermine women or that stereotype women as passive and indicate that men need to be persistent to get what they want sexually – then let them know that their attitudes undermine women’s sexuality and ignore consent, encouraging young men to pressure women into doing things that they don’t want to.    

Call up transphobic and queerphobic comments and behaviours as discrimination against diverse genders and sexualities contributes to rape culture.Look out for those who may be at risk. If you see or hear something which may be dangerous or suspicious, contact the local police or step in yourself to offer support if it is safe to do so. We cannot assume that someone else will intervene. Research on the “bystander effect” shows that the more people that witness a situation, the less likely anyone is to take action. Being an ethical bystander doesn’t mean being a hero. It means making the smallest gesture that might prevent harm from occuring.  Check in with your friends when you are out drinking, check in with other peoples friends.We all have a role to play in preventing sexual violence. This has gone on too long. But change is possible! Within my lifetime, marital rape became a crime, and consensual homosexual sex became legal. The energy to change our culture is right here. We too can make a difference. Let’s not focus on our individual stories but take strength from the power of our collective rage and resilience.

Please, take care of yourselves and each other.

Kia kaha.

#MeToo – What can you do?

This week we’ve all  been watching the #metoo campaign unfold. It’s been a full on couple of weeks with news of Harvey  Weinstein’s abuse hitting the media and many brave survivours standing up and telling their stories.

In response to these stories, many people have felt driven to take action, and so I’ve put together a list of some ideas of what you can do to contribute to ending the culture in which the abuse happens.   –  Fiona

1. Educate yourself

If you’re not quite sure what all this is about, then look it up. There’s a huge amount online if you google key words like ‘rape culture’ and ‘victim blaming.’ A s a starting point, here’s a chat I had with Jessie Mulligan about #metoo specifically.

Here’s a short article about consent.

Here’s a quick article about rape culture.

2. Keep informed

We’re sending out our first ever newsletter today, you can sign up here.Check out other organisations doing great work, including Wellington Rape Crisis, Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation, WellStop, TOAH-NNEST, InsideOut, Rainbow Youth, Women’s Refuge and Rape Prevention Education.

3. Be kind to yourself.

It’s very normal to feel overwhelmed or upset by the huge number of #metoo, as well as the emerging #ihave and itsme, posts. It’s OK to log out of social media. It’s OK to ask people to take a break from talking about it. It’s OK to ask for help. You can find a support service in your area here or call 0800 88 33 00.

4. Call people up on bad behaviour.

If your mate is pursuing someone who is clearly too intoxicated to make rational decisions: pull them aside and let them know this is not OK. Be brave and have those hard conversations.

5. Call out jokes about rape or sexual abuse.

Explain that this trivializes and normalises unacceptable behaviour. It can also isolate survivors, making it harder for them ever to disclose their abuse.

6. Call out behaviour that undermines women.

It might be a comment, it might be that women are talked over in a meeting, it might be that women are not invited to the meeting at all. Call out the comment. Make space for everyone to be heard, this might mean saying less and listening more yourself. Include women. Promote women’s voices.

7. Call out stereotypes and gender roles.

Stereotypes that cast women as passive and men as powerful are dangerous. They lead to a culture of entitlement and abuse.

8. Call out transphobic and queerphobic comments and behaviours.

Discrimination against diverse genders and sexualities de-legitimises people’s identities and makes them targets of abuse and violence.

9. Don’t stand for marginalising anyone in our community.

Say something about racism, ableism and ageism.

10. Support survivors.

Check if they are at risk of further harm. Ask them how you can support them. Tell them and show them that you’ve heard them, that you believe them and that it wasn’t their fault.

11. Pro-actively suport women.

Promote women and encourage them to take leadership roles, share content written by women, insist you have female speakers on your panels. Listen to women.

12. Actively support people with diverse gender and sexuality identities.

Promote. Encourage. Share. Listen. Support.

13. Consider what you can do in your workplace or community.

Do you have a leadership role at your work or voluntary organisation? What policies and processes does your organisation have to prevent bad behaviour in the first place or to respond when something does happen? What can you do to ensure that these are place?

14. Upskill and start conversations in your workplace or community.

SAPN offers a range of workshops that develop skills, such as intervening to prevent sexual abuse and responding to disclosures of sexaul abuse. We can tailor them to suit your organsiation. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss some options.

15. Donate to a local support service.

You can find one relevant to you here. If you’re in Wellington and want to donate to a service that supports survivors you can chose from Wellington Rape Crisis or Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation.

If you want to give your donation to a service that is working to educate and change the culture in which sexual violence happens, you can donate to us:

16. Think about what you can offer.

For us, the best kind of voluntary contribution is when someone is able to use their skills to support our work. We’ve been lucky to be supported by pro bono legal services, volunteer graphic design, administration and bookkeeping advice. Sometimes people run fundraisers for us in their own communities, meaning that they are able to access the support of and raise awareness about sexual violence among people outside of our own networks.

Thank you to Z Energy Good in the Hood

We we thrilled to receive a donation of $838.59 from Z Energy Good in the Hood. Huge thanks to everyone in our community who voted for us at Z Vivian Street and congratulations to all the charities and initiatives that received funds, including our friends at Wellington Rape Crisis! We had a great time hanging out with lots of awesome community organisations the morning tea today!

Good in the Hood: Vote for SAPN!

Vote for us to receive a share of $4,000 from Z Vivian Street!

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network is one of the four groups being supported through Good in the Hood at Z Vivian Street. That means we’ll get a share of $4,000but how much depends on how many votes we get.

To vote for us, all you need to do is buy something from Z Vivian Street during May and you’ll be given an orange token to put in the voting box (or if you’re a Z card holder, you’ll get two votes!).

So please head down to Z Vivian Street during May and vote for us! You can also support us by encouraging people you know to vote too by posting on Facebook or Twitter.

Job Opportunities with SAPN

The application process for these jobs is now closed.

Demand for SAPN’s programmes is growing and we’re excited to be recruiting for three positions: Programme Co-ordinator, Educator (fixed term), Educator (casual contract)

Check out our Job Vacancies page for more information.

Specialist sexual violence service supports calls from youth for consent education in schools

Specialist sexual violence prevention organisation, Sexual Abuse Prevention Network supports the calls from secondary school students for compulsory consent education in schools.

Widely publicized incidents in Wellington schools over the last week have prompted calls from secondary school students for compulsory consent education. Wellington secondary school students led a march to parliament last week to demand the education and a petition has been launched on online campaign platform, Action Station.

“We’ve heard what the young people are saying and we absolutely support their demand. It is essential that we teach young people about consent and healthy relationships. Who knows better what young people need than young people themselves?” says Sexual Abuse Prevention Network General Manager, Fiona McNamara.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network specialises in providing education to young people that teaches young people to recognise the signs of abusive relationships and promotes healthy relationships and consent. SAPN delivers several well developed courses in the Wellington region, including their “Who are You?” programme and ACC’s “Mates and Dates” programme. However, the organisation says that its capacity to be delivering in all schools is currently stretched due to insecure resourcing, and that other specialist providers throughout the country are in the same position.

“The government needs to make consent education a priority and fund the delivery of effective specialist programmes accordingly” says McNamara.

All young people would benefit from access to education about healthy relationships. “We need programmes to be in every year level in every school. It is important that students receive this education each year at school. We are talking about cultural overhaul – this is not a quick fix where we see behavioural and attitude change after one lesson. Messages that promote healthy positive sexuality need to be reinforced throughout a students’ experience at high school. Additionally, it is important that specialist training and support is also available to teachers to support their ability to reinforce the messages and respond appropriately when issues arise.”

If you or someone you know needs support on matters relating to sexual violence, please contact the National Sexual Violence Service on 0800 88 33 00.

For more information or interviews, contact Fiona McNamara, fiona@sexualabuseprevention.org.nz or 04 801 8975

Recent incidents at Wellington College and St Patrick’s Silverstream

SAPN was disappointed to hear about the conversations within a private Facebook group of senior Wellington College students.

It is never okay to engage in sexual activity with an intoxicated person, and any such contact is illegal. Moreover, the idea of “taking advantage” of someone defies the definition of consent.

Likewise, it is disturbing to read reports of younger students at St. Patrick’s College Silverstream making intimate visual recordings of female staff members.

It’s clear that young men in New Zealand are being exposed to extremely problematic attitudes towards women, and that these attitudes are translating into harmful actions. SAPN hopes that we can broaden the conversation and use these events to encourage change – both within these schools, and in wider society.

There has been a strong focus on the individuals who made the various comments – but it is important to recognize the culture around these individuals that allows them to think that their behaviour is acceptable. Whether it’s the students who ‘liked’ the posts, or the many who saw the comments and said nothing – we need to recognize that these are not one-off, isolated incidents.

Likewise, the question about whether these attitudes have transferred into actions supports the myth that it only ‘counts’ as sexual violence when a physical interaction has occurred. A culture that allows young men to communicate in this way, without any intervention, provides a pathway to extreme physical sexual violence. Excuses like “boys will be boys” only create space for these harmful attitudes to thrive.

Teenage boys laughing about sexual relations with intoxicated young women on Facebook is all too familiar to the NZ public, and to question whether “banter” ever evolves into physical harm is to ignore all the evidence in front of us.

This afternoon, Fiona, Michael and Kyla (General Manager of Wellington Rape Crisis) met with headmaster Roger Moses and senior staff at Wellington College.

It was heartening to hear how seriously the school is treating this issue, and we spoke about encouraging a ‘whole-school’ approach to preventing attitudes and incidents like this.

We have outlined future plans – both short and long-term – that include up-skilling staff and student leaders, and more dedicated time and resources for classes on healthy relationships, consent, and bystander intervention.

Wellington College are committed to leading the way in creating cultural change – we hope that other schools will take their lead, and that we’ll see reduced rates of sexual violence to reflect this.

The standard that you walk by is the standard that you accept.