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Weekly Media Roundup

July 22, 2022 at 3:30 PM

Stuff: 'Insidious and menacing': Health and fitness apps used for family abuse 

Popular health apps on phones and devices are now being used by perpetrators of family violence to abuse their victims. 

Apps such as Manage My Health, Apple Health and some period tracker apps – along with fitness apps that track activity – have been accessed by abusers in an "insidious and menacing" new form of tech abuse, according to legal experts. 

The issue has been described as "widespread" by partners Kesia Denhardt and Arran Hunt from law firm Stace Hammond, in an upcoming paper to the New Zealand Law Society. 

Denhardt says she has seen a growing number of clients who have had their health apps accessed or hacked to blackmail, control or discredit abuse victims. 


Stuff: Opinion: Let's tip the justice scales in favour of people 

Deena Coster is a senior reporter for Stuff/Taranaki Daily News, based at its Ngāmotu office. 

OPINION: For 20 years, I have sat in rooms and listened in as details are shared about some of the worst things humans do to each another. 

Extreme violence, abuse, betrayals of trust and, at times, the complete devastation of lives. 

I have also been a witness to the trauma left behind. The physical and mental scars caused by the despair, anger and sadness crime causes, including for those responsible for committing it. 

Throughout my career as a social worker, court reporter and, until recently, a restorative justice facilitator, I have had a privileged position to understand how people go down such destructive paths that end in others getting hurt, and the behind-the-scenes mini-tragedies that play out in homes around the country. 

The background, more often than not, includes domestic violence, child abuse, alcohol and drug addiction and poverty – not only of pocket, but spirit, too. 

It's not about offering up excuses, but it is acknowledging that for there to be an effect there always has to be a cause. 


RNZ: Pet Refuge plans for more centres to meet increasing demand 

This story discusses details of domestic violence 

More than 160 animals of domestic violence victims have been cared for by Pet Refuge in its first year, and as demand increases the centre is planning further sites so more pets and their owners can live in safety. 

It's only been a year since New Zealand's first pet refuge opened, but plans are already underway for another centre to meet increasing demand. 


Stuff: It's time to make consent a compulsory part of the school curriculum 

Donna-Lee Biddle is an investigator with the Criminal Cases Review Commission. She is a former journalist and regular opinion contributor. 

I recently overheard a disturbing conversation being had by a group of five teenage boys. 

It sounded all too innocent at first. They were swiping through pictures of a teenage girl on a phone, giggling, using their thumb and index to zoom in on her pictures. 

But it only took one comment for things to take a turn. 

“Look what she’s wearing in this one. She’s up for it I reckon,” said one boy. 

Yeah I reckon, too. Didn’t want to say anything but that’s what I was thinking, too.” 

It was all that was needed for the rest to jump in. 

And then started the barrage of comments around her appearance, and her perceived willingness to have sex based on what she was wearing. 

Their lack of awareness for those around them, let alone the content of their conversation was alarming. What was even more disturbing was that there was an adult present and, while he didn’t take part in the conversation, he effectively encouraged it by giggling too. 


Newsroom: ‘He seemed harmless’ - Groomed student left broken 

A university student who believes she was ‘groomed’ by her lecturer resulting in brutal sex is now struggling to make sense of what happened - while the lecturer is teaching at another university. She asks if institutional claims of privacy have become an excuse for secrecy that allows people like her former lecturer to continue on his merry way. 


Stuff: NZers should be ashamed of depraved treatment of disabled people, IHC worker says 

Warning: This story contains graphic descriptions of institutional physical, mental and sexual abuse. 

After eight days of harrowing testimonies the Royal Commission of Inquiry into disability, deaf, and mental health institutional care has concluded. 

Survivors bravely spoke about the physical, sexual, emotional and medical abuse suffered while in state care at the Kimberley Centre in Levin, Templeton Centre, near Christchurch, Porirua Hospital, Tokanui Hospital, near Te Awamutu, Kelston Deaf Education Centre in Auckland, Homai School, Carrington, Kingseat and Māngere Hospitals in Auckland. 

They have described the hell they endured at the hands of "evil" staff members from disabled children being raped, patients being over-medicated and a level of dehumanisation akin to concentration camps. 

There were forced sterilisations, beatings, medical incompetence causing death, and total emotional, cultural and educational neglect. 

The commission heard how disabled people in state care were deprived of their humanity and dignity for decades. 


Stuff: 'A prison with no bars': Abuse in Care hearing told disabled children given no freedom of choice 

Disabled people, their whānau and advocates are sharing stories of historical abuse at the Abuse in Care – Royal Commission of Inquiry Disability, Deaf and Mental Health institutional care. The hearing runs from July 11 to July 20. 

Content warning: This story contains accounts of abuse which some readers may find distressing. 


Stuff: Abuse in Care: Deaf children smacked for failing to lip read, denied sign language 

A school designed for Deaf children has been repeatedly exposed for historical abuse of pupils. 

Whiti Ronaki (Te Arawa) was 6 when he first boarded at Kelston School for the Deaf, in 1959. Instead of being taught sign language and being given a primary school education, he was slapped on the mouth and forced to brush his teeth with soap. 

Ronaki was bullied by other students, abused by staff and suffered teachers trying to force students to lip-read. 


Stuff: The islands didn't escape the church's legacy of sexual abuse 

The Marist Brothers and Fathers have educated prime ministers, judges, cardinals and All Blacks at their prestigious Catholic high schools. But their record of sexual abuse is horrific. Worse still was their handling of the abuse when it was exposed. In this series, The Secret History, Steve Kilgallon investigates the power, abuse and cover-ups at the heart of two highly-influential and wealthy religious groups. 

This is Part 7. The remaining chapters will be published in the coming weeks. 

Warning: This story may be upsetting to some. 


Newstalk ZB: Calls for intervention after study finds a quarter of suicides involve alcohol use 

WARNING: This interview discusses suicide. Helplines can be found at the bottom of the page 

There are calls for intervention on alcohol, and the damage it can cause.   

An Otago University study has found just over a quarter of suicides involve acute alcohol use. It was found to be a contributing factor, especially for Maori, Pasifika and younger people.  

Lead Author Dr Rose Cross-in says this research needs to prompt action.   


Newsroom: Partner work visas on the chopping block 

Plans to axe partner work visas at the end of the year could see migrants working under the table or stuck in abusive situations due to financial dependence 


NZ Herald: Glendene double homicide: Man appears in court on murder charges, grieving family pay tribute 

A woman supported on each side by two others sobbed in court yesterday as a man accused of murdering a father and daughter a day earlier stood silently in the dock. 

The man, 27, was making his first appearance in court since being arrested about 90 minutes after police were alerted to the shooting deaths of a man and woman in the West Auckland suburb of Glendene on Friday afternoon. 


NZ Herald: Oranga Tamariki caregiver received death threats, labelled 'murderer' after toddler's mystery death 

This year Deajay Parkinson-Batt should have been preparing to celebrate his first day of school. But two years since the toddler was rushed unresponsive to hospital and life support switched off, his death in state care remains a mystery. Now in an exclusive interview, the little boy's Oranga Tamariki caregiver says her family loved Deajay and are not responsible for his death. Lane Nichols reports. 


NZ Herald: Strangulation law: Eight factors that will count towards a stiffer jail sentence for domestic abusers 

A man who choked his ex-partner on a bed until she nearly passed out has complained that his sentence of two years and three months in prison is unfair. 

Daniel Wayne Shramka grabbed his victim by the neck with one hand, squeezing tightly, for almost 30 seconds before she was able to break free by kicking out at him. 

When she tried to roll away, he punched her hard in the back of her head. 

When she reached for her phone on the floor to call 111, he punched her in the face. 

Shramka's case has now become the first under a new law against strangulation to be taken to the Court of Appeal. 


Stuff: Well-known West Coaster admits sexually abusing boys he met through sports clubs 

Content warning: This story contains information about abuse which some readers may find distressing. 

A well-known 87-year-old West Coast man has admitted sexually abusing young boys he met through several sports clubs he had been involved with. 

Allan William Walton pleaded guilty to eight sexual offences when he appeared via video-link at the Greymouth District Court on Wednesday. The offences were committed from the late 1950s to the 1980s. 

Judge Paul Kellar said the charges were amongst the oldest he had ever seen, some of which had been laid under the Crimes Act 1908. 


NZ Herald: Napier man jailed after assaulting partner, sending hundreds of abusive texts 

"Just stay away. Don't go near this man." 

That is the advice of a domestic violence survivor to other women after her abuser, described as controlling and narcissistic, was sent to jail this week. 

During several hearings over the last six months, the Napier District Court has been told that Matthew Stephen Cox, 43, sent a stream of abusive text messages over two weeks - including 350 in one night - to his then partner as their relationship was breaking up. 

He also sent pornographic images to the woman's son and one of her friends, telling them they were of his victim. 


NZ Herald: Woman barred from contacting her mother for 12 months after years of torment 

A Dunedin woman who has repeatedly terrorised her mother has been barred from contacting her for a year. 

Anita Dorothy Cumming, 43, admitted to another breach of the protection order, which has been in place to shield her mother from physical and psychological abuse since 2018, when she appeared in the Dunedin District Court in May. 

Category: News Media