National Party MP Dr Jackie Blue was in an abusive relationship. She got out, and many years later, she has told her story to a magazine. Other women have read her story, and they have been helped by it.
Since the story was published, a number of women had contacted her to tell their own stories of abuse.
“One woman phoned my PA in Wellington in tears, and explained that she had the history of abuse and had read my story and found it inspirational, and felt that if I could overcome it she could too,” Dr Blue said.
“That was wonderful to hear that it gave that particular woman some hope, and I was very humbled to hear that.”
That’s great. But she had been worried about telling her story, concerned…
…that readers might perceive her as weak for staying in the relationship when she should have known better.
However, she said she hoped the story emphasised that domestic violence did not discriminate, and that being a doctor and a professional did not mean someone was in control of their life.
There may be another benefit to Dr Blue’s openness in telling her story. Her colleagues in the National Party caucus room might just believe her when she says that in cases of domestic violence, it’s not just a matter of leaving. Abusers have all sorts of ways to control their partners, from physical violence to excluding friendships, withholding money, taking the car keys, threatening to harm beloved pets, or horrifyingly, to harm children. Often even if a woman has got the point where she can leave an abusive relationship, she has nowhere to go, and no resources. That’s why we need to fund Women’s Refuges, and other services that help people to leave abusive relationships.
Dr Blue is not tasked with bearing this message to her colleagues all by herself. But she can, within the caucus room, speak from experience. “They should just leave!” is not a possible response when a highly regarded colleague speaks of her own experience of being caught in an abusive relationship.
Thank you, Dr Blue, for telling your story.