There are several reasons.
The first is practical—people don’t contact crisis lines, Women’s Refuge or the police until they have run out of options, if at all. When someone is hurt, the first people to know are usually whānau, friends, flatmates, co-workers or teachers. People who need help turn to us, but we don’t always know what to do. The purpose of this website is to bring knowledge and skills back to communities. Everyone is safer if we grow our understanding, skills and confidence in responding to, ending and preventing violence.
If ordinary people like us get better at this, then we are more likely to respond to violence when it first happens, instead of waiting until serious harm has been done. We can act with care and compassion for those we are closest to, including people who are causing harm. We can more quickly help people we care about or share community with. We are less likely to pretend nothing is happening, blame the victim or leave it to someone else. We can make our homes, families and communities the healthy places that we want to live in.
Second, many people will not use anti-violence agencies or the police because they aren’t comfortable with them, don’t trust them, or have reason to fear them. This is particularly true of people most at risk from State violence—Māori, beneficiaries, recent immigrants, gang affiliates, ‘working class’ people, people working against the State, people with disabilities, etc. Many of the people most in need of support are unable to use agencies or the police. Many people won’t use the criminal system because it is not “just.” It is violent itself, and it takes away the possibility for change based on connection and care—instead relying more on punishment.
If agencies and stopping violence programmes work in ways that increase the risk of State violence, then we need a safer approach. If people can’t turn to agencies and stopping violence programmes for support, then this website has tools that may support them ending violence.
Third, violence happens in communities—it is not a problem created by individuals, so it can’t be solved by fixing or punishing individuals. Agencies and the police work only with people harmed and people who cause harm, while doing nothing to change the environment those people live in or will return to. We can only end violence if we all take responsibility for the environment that allows it to happen.
The State and anti-violence agencies are new. For generations, our communities found ways to be safe without them. In order to grow strong, healthy and safe communities, we need to re-discover those skills. The more we rely on outside agencies to make our communities safe, the less likely we are to grow the skills and understanding we need, and the more we expose our communities to State violence. We want to make ending violence an everyday skill. We hope to grow the desire and the ability to end and prevent violence for our communities, our children and future generations. By making these skills normal again, we may prevent harm from happening in the first place.
Fourth, if these approaches become more well-known, agencies and stopping violence programmes may shift to supporting communities to work on their own problems. At the moment, agencies take skills and resources out of communities and control that work themselves, so this would be a great improvement.
If you are thinking about safety, How do you stay safe has information and tools for working out risks and planning for safety.