Lorri's Story
Pain is dark energy that needs to be healed back to light

Illustrating Lorri's story was not only a journey into her experiences, but also a healing journey for me. It helped me understand and come to terms with some of my own experiences and I'm sure it will help many others.

Polina Outkina

I didn’t talk to my family about the sexual abuse because I knew they would all be in denial, but I did talk to my mother’s sister. She told Mum what I’d told her, and Mum told me she couldn’t believe me because that would mean she’d have to leave Dad. When I went on television and talked about incest, she thought that was unforgivable, and since then she has shut me out.

I finally wrote to my brother telling him I remembered abuse happening to him. I never heard from him, but I found out later he’d spent the next two years telling doctors something was wrong with his throat. They finally found he had throat cancer, and he died. The memory I had was of him being orally raped.

Things really blew up in the family when I took my grandmother back to her home after my mother and her sister had put her in a nursing home. They had always said they would look after her, but when she had a stroke they put her in a home. They told me she had gone crazy, but she was very angry about being put in a home, and frustrated that she couldn’t say so because her speech had been impaired. She had been my lifeline as a child, so I became hers. I took her home, and kicked out the relatives who had moved in.

I believe we have elder abuse because we have child abuse. Our culture doesn’t respect children and we are abusive towards them, and then as adults they get their own back on their parents and so the generational abuse continues. It is abuse – whether it is sexual, emotional, physical, financial or psychological. We continue to act it out one way or the other. I wanted to stop that in my family.

Since coming to New Zealand in 1987, I have been working with domestic violence and sexual abuse, and it does feel to me as if we have started to understand that the answer is in creating a violence-free society. In the organisation I work with, Living Without Violence, we run groups for men and women who are perpetrators and victims, and for children.

This is tertiary intervention – the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. But funding is now coming through for primary intervention – to create violence-free environments. The National Network for Stopping Violence Services, to which we are affiliated, is now doing pilot studies in four different parts of the country.

The idea is to go into a high school, for example, and work with the staff, students and parents in a process where they come up with how they can create a violence-free environment. It’s not a matter of going in with a programme, but of everyone involved coming up with a plan.

The ramifications go way past the high school environment – into the homes of the staff and students.

I feel very excited about this, because it is an indication that we are beginning to understand that family violence is not about individuals or even individual homes. It’s about the whole of society.

Little girl