01 May Changing the culture of ‘narking’
There are numerous reasons why family violence is not reported in New Zealand. Reasons such as shame from the victim, to manipulation from the perpetrator, to not wanting to be thought of as a ‘nark’
There are plenty of descriptions used in everyday language: Rat, weasel, squealer, canary, blabber mouth, stool pigeon and have you ever heard the term ‘snitches get stitches?’
Whatever you want to call it, a ‘nark’ is seen as negative and certainly not something you would traditionally aspire to be.
Hollywood movies paint out narks to be the lowest of the low. It’s a weak kind of individual who doesn’t respect the brotherhood’s code of silence. It’s seen as a cardinal sin – the ultimate act of betrayal.
It’s as though there is some warped mentality of honour, prestige and glory about being tight lipped. The reality is it’s misguided, damaging and cowardly. It protects the perpetrators, ignores the victims and allows the insidious nature of family violence to thrive.
We can all understand the concept of trust and confiding in someone and not wanting to nark on your work colleague for taking extended lunch breaks while the boss is away.
But this is different. This is about knowing someone who is either in extreme risk of harm or has been a victim of family abuse, and doing nothing about it.
If you are reading this and are thinking “I’m no rat, I’ll never dob in a mate or family member”, I want you to think about this – Imagine a loved one or someone close to you was deliberately assaulted or harmed. I would imagine you’d want to know who did it so they could face the consequences. You would also hope that anyone who had information would come forward. A culture of not narking would not help you with this.
We need to change the culture around reporting family violence and keeping people honest. A lot of family violence is perpetrated because abusers rely on people remaining silent. We need to change the meaning of what a nark is. It shouldn’t be seen as someone who can’t keep a nasty secret; it should be promoted as someone standing up to be the voice of others.
Here are some parting words by an anonymous author, “The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people”
Dane Haskell is the co-ordinator of Taranaki Safe Families Trust