Living on the edge – Kath Curran
I was recently at a hardware store counter with gardening tools and a hotchpotch of essentials for (finally!) creating an emergency pack. The article I’d seen about a 93% chance over the next 30 days of a 6-6.9 earthquake helped the message sink in to ‘get ready’. To me, this trolley was a metaphor for how my thinking had been going over the past week. Simultaneously planning to care for a garden and create a nice home to enjoy into the future while planning for abandoning the home within minutes. I usually enjoy irony but that felt weird.
I would rather feel weird than downright scared. The loss and uncertainty being lived daily by the folk in the reaches of the earthquakes these past weeks must be so exhausting. The aftershocks keep everyone on edge and people are physically and emotionally drained. The stories of the practical, compassionate responses of help are heartening. In times of crisis the strength of community prevails. Those communities remain connected with their distant friends, families and us all, supported by practical gifts and donations as well as in spirit through prayers and messages of care. They face into a long road to recovery. It’s hard not to feel helpless given the enormity of need. We have to do our best to be alongside them on this journey.
There’s another group of people living on the edge right now, fearful for their safety and what happens next. Some may have their emergency exit plan organised. Many are shopping and setting up their homes for the summer break while at once facing a crisis tonight. Victims of family violence, usually by their intimate partner, experience the fatigue and fear of constantly living on the edge. Many women are juggling the immediate needs for survival for their children and themselves and know they are in a precarious position. Fifty percent of the intimate partner violence deaths in 2015 occurred at the time of actual or intended separation (areyouok.org.nz). It’s estimated that three quarters of family violence incidents are not reported to Police who investigated over 110,000 family violence incidents last year. As family and friends we might feel helpless but there are things we can do.
It may feel weird asking someone ‘are you ok?’ ‘is someone hurting you?’ ‘is there anything I can do?’ but rather to feel weird than out-and-out scared for someone’s safety.
If your situation is urgent call Police 111; Women’s Refuge crisis line 0800 REFUGE/0800 733 843; Child, Youth, Family 0508 326 459. To find more information on how to be supportive check out areyouok.org.nz; womensrefuge.org.nz.