At an event on Tuesday 4th October, at the Te Ahu Centre Kaitaia, Ciaran Torrington was presented with the AMP Dynamics Financial Services Regional Scholarship. This was granted for the purpose to change beliefs about sexual violence, build support for survivors, to stop offending, and help survivors to heal.
Ciaran would do this by using empathy strategies such as “We support the One in 4 Campaign” developed for sexual abuse survivors within the Kaitaia community and take them to New Zealand and the world.
The journey so far is alongside the Kaitaia Business & Professional Women’s Club (BPW Kaitaia) which launched the One in 4 Campaign: Building empathy towards sexual abuse survivors in June 2015 because of their increasing concern about the condoned violence within their community, the lack of support for victims, and how this directly impacted on the poverty, suicides, violence and crime in their local community. So far BPW Kaitaia has participated in the MASsiVe Hikoi, spoke on local radio, wrote articles for the local newspaper (Northland Age), and produced two videos that were launched online https://bpwkaitaia.wordpress.com/one-in-4-campaign/ and developed an empathy building workshop to be presented to community groups.
Ciaran was inspired to start this journey as she was sexually abused as a child and has lived with PTSD all her life. It significantly impacted on her education and she left home and school at sixteen years of age. She was on a benefit for years and with determination began to change her life. She started studying psychology, became a trauma therapist and began a strong advocate for change.
This year in April 2016 the New Zealand Federation of Business & Professional Women Inc. (BPW NZ) held their Federation Conference at Auckland, and the following days the Asia Pacific Conference. At the BPW NZ Conference, BPW Kaitaia won the Anne Todd Bell Award. This Award is presented at the Federation Conference to the BPW Club that in the previous year, has most actively pursued an issue which related to the status of women. Kaitaia’s award was based on their empathy building strategy to reduce violence in their community, the “We support the One in 4 Campaign” and received recognition and support for their campaign from clubs both nationally and internationally. BPW Kaitaia were challenged by the BPW Australia club members that if they really thought this issue was important then we should show our commitment and passion by taking our empathy building workshop to the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York and put this issue on the world stage to directly influence change in sexual violence both in this country and around the world. BPW Kaitaia were inspired by the encouragement of BPW Australia and took this exciting idea to members of their National Executive who agreed that such a plan was possible and that we could get tickets to the CSW62 if we could raise the funds go.
BPW Kaitaia feels that going to the CSW62 is important because it could directly influence and change violence in their community and around the world. But it could also inspire and empower that woman from a small rural community battling significant social issues with an opportunity to develop their leadership abilities and networks in going to the United Nations to be with the world leaders who are determined to eliminate violence against women.
The Kaitaia community has struggled with negative press and has become infamous in New Zealand for poverty and paedophiles, drugs and now murders. The BPW Kaitaia women are part of a fight back within the town towards change. These women have already shown their commitment and passion through their “We Support the One in 4 Campaign” and need more resources to take their workshop to community groups through New Zealand and to the CSW62 in March 2018.
BPW Kaitaia club members have already volunteered a significant amount of their time and resources for the cause in developing this project and remain committed to continue their efforts, but need financial help for travel and administration costs to make this dream a reality to build a better future and bring a positive focus to our community.
Ciaran feels her next steps for change are to:
- Raise funding to take the sexual abuse empathy workshop to communities throughout New Zealand
- Approach agencies for as many tickets as possible to the United Nations CSW62 in New York in 2018
- Raise funding to take as many people from Kaitaia to the United Nations CSW62 in New York in 2018 to present their empathy building workshop.
BPW Kaitaia members will continue to support her.