Massey University ‘Consent The Louise Nicholas Story’

Dr Shirley Julich, Senior Lecturer in the College of Health’s School of Health and Social Services, is part of an elite group of international researchers whose work is contributing to the development of restorative justice, particularly focusing on how it addresses sexual violence. She says sexual violence in New Zealand remains a largely invisible war that New Zealanders need to confront and stop.

“One in four girls and one in eight boys in New Zealand are sexually abused by the age of 16,” says Dr Julich. “The traditional criminal justice system failed Louise Nicholas. Restorative justice for victims of sexual violence is a powerful alternative.

“Once a woman takes the first step to disclose sexual violation, the battle is just beginning. She will need to fight to get funding for counselling. Our support agencies fight every day for a limited amount of funding. Those who work in agencies that support victim-survivors of sexual violence are at the front line of an invisible war, a private battle that no one sees. There are no bombs, no soldiers or rebels, but my colleagues feel they are constantly under attack. From day to day they don’t know if they will have the funding to continue their work. It should not be surprising that they speak the language of conflict and war. They experience battle fatigue every day.

“And their battle is caused by gender difference, perpetrated mostly by men against women, men against children and yes men against men too but women are also perpetrators. Often the perpetrators are the very people who should protect them, support them and nurture them. Often victim-survivors are sexually violated in their own homes, in their own beds.