Marama Davidson says speaking out about suffering sexual abuse as a child is allowing other victims 'to not feel alone'

Source: 1News

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says she has already received messages that her speaking out about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child is helping other victims of such abuse.

Ms Davidson spoke in a media interview yesterday about being sexually abused as a girl of eight or nine by an older male distant relative, who had been staying with her family for some time.

She later told 1 NEWS the abuse was "over a period of maybe months to a year or two". 

"I felt silenced and frozen and ashamed and really embarrassed, and have carried that right through my whole entire adult life," she said.

"And it's only now that I'm able to talk about it. But I know for a fact that there are many thousands more people who have felt silenced, who haven't been able to talk about it or have felt very alone."

Ms Davidson said she spoke up "because it's the silence that allows sexual abuse to continue to keep happening, and because it is the hardest thing to talk about.

"And I'm hoping - and have already seen the messages - that my speaking out is allowing people to not feel alone, and is a reminder to people to not blame themselves."

Ms Davidson said the way to address sexual abuse is by making it safe for people to be able to talk about it.

Our children need to grow up learning about consent and learning about the right to say when something is not welcome

—  Marama Davidson, Green Party co-leader

"Already the messages that I've been receiving from people have been a sense of relief and hope from people who they themselves haven't quite found their voice to talk about it yet. And so I know that that's a positive outcome from being able to share my story."

Ms Davidson also told 1 NEWS New Zealand must try to have a zero tolerance of any form of abuse in the home, and children need to be encouraged to talk to adults and family members when something feels uncomfortable and wrong.

"As a little girl, one of the things I realise now is I didn't understand what was happening to me. I didn't even know the word to call it. I just felt really horrible feelings of shame and awkwardness. And I just wanted to freeze. And I wanted to pretend that I was asleep when sexual abuse was being done to me.

"And I just think that our children need to grow up learning about consent, and learning about the right to say when something is not welcome. And I think as a society we need to do some thinking there," she said.

Ms Davidson has also appealed to adults and family members to look out for behaviour changes in children.

She said unless a young, innocent, vulnerable child comes to you and says they're being sexually abused it's almost impossible to pick up on it.  

"And so we've got to try and create safer spaces, ensure children feel in control of their bodies and know when something is feeling unsafe and what to do about  that."

If you need support , call: 0800 842 846 or visit the Victim Support website for organisations that can help. 

Are You OK - 0800 456 450  family violence helpline

Shine -  0508 744 633 confidential domestic abuse helpline

Women's Refuge Crisisline - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE) (for women living with violence, or in fear, in their relationship or family)

Shakti Crisis Line - 0800 742 584 (for migrant or refugee women living with family violence

Rape Crisis - 0800 883 300 (for support after rape or sexual assault)

Original story : Speaking Secrets: Marama Davidson's painful memory of sexual abuse