Beyond the Election: on solidarity and building communities of compassion

Trigger warning for content which includes sexual assault and suicide


New Zealand’s General Election result of 2017 was incredibly close and we actually do not know who has won, just yet. But already my Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with updates from leftie friends, comrades, and activists declaring “Three more years of poverty, despair and crippling economic insecurity.”

And yeah, I get it; whichever way the ballot box falls, it is hard to grasp why so many people voted again for the National Government which has presided over record levels of homelessness, wealth inequality, and suicide rates. As someone who advocates for those on welfare and for some of our lowest paid workers within the hospitality industry, I see first-hand the impacts of this National government’s values and policies on our poorest citizens. I too, am pretty pissed off that we are quite possibly staring down the barrel of a gun of another three years of a National government.

But … right now, today … this week, I am not feeling defeated or discouraged over this election result, especially given that the last election was a landslide victory to the right. The National party government’s convincing win in 2014 was so complete that at the time it felt utterly crushing for so many of us on the left: “Could be worse”, as they say. It got worse. But now, I am actually – at long last – feeling hopeful again, and I understand that might sound really naive to some of you. But just bear with me and give me a chance to explain why my hope hasn’t been totally annihilated by the 2017 election result, thus far.  

This hope I am holding on to comes from everything I’ve been through and survived in the past year, and as such, how I perceive a win: my definition of a victory, both politically and personally in life, has changed drastically over the last few months. I’ve got this new fire burning in my belly which has been ignited by the many injustices my mates and I have survived over the last year.

Defining a win for this election cycle, for me, is about recognising progress and acknowledging where we were as a country only eight weeks ago. Politically, New Zealand was looking at a failing opposition and a guaranteed National government. Personally, only eight weeks ago, I was in Puna Whakataa, a respite community house for people dealing with addiction. I fully recommend you not attempt to drink wine like it is water, it doesn’t end well.

This was sparked by many events. Some are personal and some political including the following: being fired from a job simply for speaking out about the exploitation of new migrant workers within that workplace (shout-out to the National government for shitting all over workers’ rights including through 90 day trials); being sexually assaulted, which left me reeling and feeling broken; my mum finding out she had cancer; and one of my best friends passing away suddenly. Context matters, and my context is: I’ve already survived so much, and it hasn’t killed me; I am still standing.  

More than anything, it was being sexually assaulted which led me to using alcohol to numb emotions for which I had no coping skills. I tried to get help through the public mental health system but the waitlists were massive, the hoops and different organisations I had to call felt overwhelming, and it just seemed easier to medicate with booze to temporarily anesthetize my pain. National have woefully underfunded services that support those who have been raped or assaulted, and as Radio New Zealand reports, there are month-long delays.

It isn’t just Rape Crisis supporters who are struggling to keep up with the overwhelming numbers of people who need help. All our mental health service funding has been cut to the bone under the National Government. I spoke to a mental health worker who wanted to remain anonymous, who said to me, “We are dangerously underfunded, understaffed, and our working conditions are appalling. Most of us are on burnout and are looking to leave.” Those of us seeking support are often left to find other ways to cope and manage. Given you are 70% more likely to use drugs and alcohol if you have survived sexual assault and/or rape, falling headlong into addiction isn’t exactly inevitable but it is probable at least, for some of us.

It is safe to say I become part of that 70% statistic and attempted to drink myself to death, until, finally, exhausted, I reached out for help, again. I learnt of a peer support focused addiction and recovery service called Mahi Marumaru which is out in South Auckland, near where I live. It took a few months to get a support worker but I hang in there, and eventually I was connected with a peer worker named Jamie, who has been amazing. She suggested I have a break from everything and go into Puna Whakataa, a short-term respite community for addiction recovery, so I could rest and start healing.

There was absolutely no waitlist for this respite (keeping in mind I already had to wait for months to access a peer support worker), likely because Puna is funded by the south Auckland DHB and The Salvation Army, once again a charity doing the work of what the government should be doing. It was, in part, founded by Peer Support workers who come from lived experience with addiction who realise having to wait for a bed can mean the difference between living or dying.

I spent two weeks there, in which I learned a lot about addiction, myself, and how the best models of addiction and recovery are based on aroha and compassion. I had access to 24/7 counseling and support and for the first time in my life I was being taught the tools I needed to cope with all the pain and trauma I was living with. I walked out of Puna feeling stronger, and as if maybe the possibility really does exist that I could get my life back again.

I have not stopped drinking completely, but I am certainly no longer drinking in the mornings, and I am certainly not drinking everyday; for the first time in a long time I have moments of joy where I feel happy, and where all this hurt does not feel so huge and heavy.

Perhaps, for many people, having to go into respite and needing to admit you have a serious problem with alcohol would not be classified as a “win” in life. But for me, it is a win to be able to say: “I am not drinking in the mornings anymore, I have a bit of hope for my future, and I am slowly but surely gaining my life back”. In fact, being able to say this isn’t just a win for me, but also it is life-affirming: not everyone who becomes addicted to a substance makes it out alive.

I know this because while in Puna, a person who was meant to be admitted to a bed did not make it. They passed away from complications with alcohol before they could even walk through the front door. In this context it feels like a monumental victory right now for me to say “I am getting there. I am still here in this world”.  

The knowledge that I can survive so much heartache during a short time has given me a new perspective on my life, and by extension my political awareness, and even how I perceive what a political and social win can, should, and does, look like. It reminds me that whether we have a Labour or National government, it will not change my resolve to fight as long and hard as I can for a gentler and more compassionate country. And by extension communities that are nuanced enough to recognize the impacts of what historical and contemporary racism, sexism, and classism have done to our people.

At the very start of this piece of writing, I pointed out we now have one of the highest suicide rates in the OECD. While politicians bicker about what is or isn’t economically possible when it comes to funding crucial health and support services, people are dying. Between June of this year and last, our suicide statistics rose to a staggering 606 people. This number disproportionately affects our Māori and Pasifika people and our young men. When inequality becomes so overwhelming, so huge and so clearly entrenched within our communities, people’s mental health will always deteriorate. The final, irreversible, and desperate consequence of this deterioration is death by suicide.

I would like to add two more people to this statistic of 606 people: during the lead up to the General Election, two of my friends committed suicide. This year has, truly, been appalling and shattering for myself, my friends, and our extended communities. They were both young women in their early twenties, and both had struggled with mental health issues for a long time. One of these young woman had spent a long time battling the punitive and humiliating WINZ (Work and Income New Zealand) state system, and often told me how WINZ contributed to her despair and depression.

Notably, mental health was a leading campaign issue for most major and minor parties, with Labour leader Jacinda Ardern speaking emotionally about her own experiences losing a friend to suicide and has pledged to a target of zero suicides, and has vouched to, if elected, better fund mental health. Perhaps the most powerful act of solidarity for those suffering with mental health issues, however, came from then co-leader of the Green Party, Metiria Turei, who also, importantly and correctly, connected mental health with welfare and poverty.

In July of this year the Green Party launched their welfare policy which would see all benefits rise by 20% and accompanied by a roll back of the economic sanctions many face if not meeting their obligations under WINZ. Metiria spoke at the policy launch where she admitted she had committed welfare fraud in the early ‘90s as a young solo māori mum. She told everyone she did so as an act of survival to supplement her measly DPB (Dependant Parents Benefit) at the time. Metiria said,

“Like most people who receive a benefit, I was so careful about managing my money.

I’d go to the bank every fortnight on dole day. I’d withdraw all my money, in cash, then split it up into small amounts, wrapped up in rubber bands with little notes about what it was for.

I knew exactly how much I had for our bills, our rent, our food. But whatever way I split it, I still didn’t have enough to get by at the end of the week.”

In response to her confession she was subject to a relentless media beat down. Public benefit-bashing became a bloodsport in which spectators jeered at the sidelines and pundits with no lived experience of welfare threw the hardest and heaviest blows. Writer and activist Giovanni Tiso gave perhaps one of the most powerful rebuttals to the tirade of abuse and condemnation that was flung at Metiria and, by extension, anyone who is or has been on welfare:

Far too often – while rightly worrying about the continued capacity of journalism to serve its democratic functions in spite of the decline of its business model – we forget that the fourth estate is just that: an estate, that is to say a seat of power, and that this power is implicated in everyday forms of social repression and in entrenching the dominant ideology. This is the ideology that reduces welfare recipients to occasional objects of pity, while systematically depriving them of any agency. Hence the outrage at the revelation that a young woman on the DPB – at a time when Māori  unemployment in her age bracket was at near 40 per cent – should dare to be politically active. It is also the ideology that dictates that the lives of beneficiaries must be open to constant surveillance and monitoring, down to the most intimate details of their sexual and affective lives, and including the odious policy of ‘naming the father’.”

To add to what Giovanni so necessarily points out, what was barely noted in our media was that Metiria’s act was one of solidarity after the fact. She had been prompted to speak out about welfare and welfare fraud because she had read a story about a young woman who had taken her life after being accused of welfare fraud. As it turned out the accusation was false, but by the time the truth came out, the realization came too late to save the woman.

Let’s break this all down to its bare bones: Metiria was forced to stand-down because she dared defend the lives of those on welfare and in this case the life of a young woman wrongfully accused of a so called “welfare crime”. A “crime” which she had not even committed and who then, in response, took her own life and became part of our 606 people who have died by suicide, this year.   

People are dying because the so-called State safety net no longer aims to catch those in struggle but instead strangles, criminalises and subjugates them. People are dying because there are not enough beds available fast enough in our mental health and addiction and recovery units and houses. And serious trauma survivors like me seem only able to access wrap around care and help, when we become desperate to the point of struggling through life or death situations. We are living in a country that punishes and seeks to further destroy those who are already in immense pain. You need to ask yourself: Is this the kind of country you want to live in?

I know few people who are not affected by suicide, poverty, or growing inequality, and all of these things affect us both on personal and societal levels. Just as recovering from personal tragedy takes many years, even with help and support, recovering and healing as a nation from all of this deep social pain, loss, and heartache will take rebuilding our communities and connecting on much deeper levels with one another.

We have institutionalised political and social systems founded upon the neoliberal belief that by increasing the pain of those in struggle, we can somehow improve their lives through a dose of “tough love”, an oxymoron if ever there was one. The thinking goes that we can bully and coerce the unemployed into finding jobs no matter how shitty, lowly paid, humiliating, and insecure they may be. We can shame and force those with addictions to pledge to abstinence or face criminalisation and social exclusion. We can demand that those in poverty somehow find individualised ways or strategies to crawl and dig their way out of structural poverty.

These approaches are the antithesis of empathy and aroha, the two things I was meet in spades with, inside Puna Whakataa. I believe these two powerful emotions of aroha and empathy could be a remedy to social harm, if turned into action; let us use the verb form of these words.

I believe aroha and empathy should be at the core of our political and social lives. Perhaps then, all of us who are struggling day-to-day with poverty, addiction, or any other hardship, could begin to etch out a decent economic living and a meaningful life filled with love, laughter, and light, instead of disenfranchisement, disconnection, and despair. Writer and activist Moana Jackson writes for e-tangata,  Perhaps amid all the current post-mortems about winning and losing the election, it may be timely to re-imagine what is ‘real’ and to reflect on what kind of a different reality might be created.”

Whatever government we are left with, it will take decades of compassionate mahi at a grassroots level to imagine and create counter-communities of connection and absolute solidarity; communities that cannot be fractured. Author and activist Max Harris writes for The Spinoff,  

But beyond September 23, we cannot let up on putting pressure on politicians to help to create something better. In my view, that “something better” is a politics grounded in care, community, and creativity – a politics underpinned, ultimately, by love. The structures of our politics in their current form don’t accommodate how people are doing politics or want to be done. We need to change that.”

One election, whichever way it may go, does not determine our futures or our lives absolutely. If the last eight weeks have taught me anything, it is that we already have a growing politics of “care, community, and creativity” — we always have, at least at a grassroots level. I experienced this in a community house called Puna Whakataa and our wider addiction and recovery whānau out South. Who treat people like me who have addiction issues as people in need of support and understanding, and not as loser junkies and alcoholics who should be in jail or publicly ridiculed. We all saw this with Metiria Turei speaking out and up for those on welfare and refusing to apologize for committing welfare fraud, in other words refusing to say sorry for just trying to survive and obtain a decent standard of living. It has long been noted: If the law is unjust the law must be broken.

Metiria acted from a place of care and aroha when she so publicly stood with The Welfare Class, and in doing so she ripped wide open the political space for thousands upon thousands of people to tweet, Truth to Power. Under the hashtag #IAmMetiria countless people, in response to her speaking out, told their stories of hardship and cruelty at the hands of WINZ, exposing a failed and brutal system that hurts more than it heals. Metiria also refused to “dob in” any sole mummas who confided in her that they too had committed welfare fraud as an act of survival. Metiria’s refusal to nark on those who trusted her with sensitive information is what I call solidarity.

You can’t break that kind of solidarity. It is absolute.

I’d assume Metiria would rather do jail time then ever break confidence with the women who confided their truths with her. Perhaps, for some, it will be hard to understand this level of loyalty… But, I do. You can’t undo a suicide. You can’t buy back values, principles or morals. Once they are gone. They are gone. After that you have to live with your decisions and choices.

On the back of #IAmMetira, the art and activist movement We Are Beneficiaries, sprang up on Twitter and then on Facebook and eventually even out on the streets. We Are Beneficiaries enlisted the help of artists to draw portraits or images that viscerally reflect the stories and words of those on benefits.

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This is exactly how communities that cannot be fractured are born: through the sharing of our common stories, and then the citing of these stories as a form of public and political testimony, which gives shape to our daily lives, and the struggle against being forgotten. In the ardent words of journalist Sarah Kendzior,

“When wealth is passed off as merit, bad luck is seen as bad character. This is how ideologies justify punishing the poor. But poverty is neither a crime nor a character flaw. Stigmatise those who let people die, not those who struggle to live.”

During turbulent times it pays to remember those of us in the Working, Lower and Welfare Classes take out the majority of our population; we are the majority. We are the 99 percent.  We are the ones we have been waiting for.
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‘A place of healing and a place of hurt’: on abuse and assault in the BDSM community

Content warning: Contains explicit content and references to sexual assault and rape, which may be triggering to survivors.

I just had the most uncomfortable conversation with my mum about some handcuffs she found under my bed which I’d left there by accident. To be exact, what she found were not handcuffs but shackles I’ve used for hog tying people. I decided against pointing this out because: awkward as fuck. I’m just so glad she missed the ball gag and the cat o’ nine tails I’d also left under the bed.

I’m sure my mum noticed the look of horror on my face but it didn’t stop her from saying, “I know you are into BDSM and that’s fine. You should do what makes you happy.”

Oh. My. God. I nearly died. Despite being utterly mortified that my mum had just bought up my involvement in a scene/subculture considered by many as deviant and deranged (and more misunderstood than ever thanks to 50 Shades of Grey), I resisted the urge to shut the conversation down. Instead I told her the initial reason that I had gotten into BDSM was that the cornerstones of kink culture are meant to be: Safe, Sound and Consensual.

My involvement in BDSM goes deeper than the explanation I gave my mum. I have always felt I could have more sexual agency as a woman within the kinkster community than in wider mainstream sex culture. I have more freedom to discuss my sexual fantasies, boundaries and needs with less risk of being ruthlessly slut-shamed by men and, yes, sometimes by women. In wider mainstream culture, women aren’t meant to have their own sexual needs or desires; we are socialised into believing we should serve the fantasies of men, while suppressing our own….

To continue reading this essay please Click Here, and you will be taken to The Spinoff where you can read it in full…

Tony Veitch broke his partner’s spine but still thinks he is the “victim”

*Trigger warning: this post includes discussions around rape and violence against women*

Sports broadcaster Tony Veitch has been the target of “online abuse” and he wants you to feel really sorry for him. After he made a joke during an All Blacks Vs France rugby game about not knowing the difference between a “punch” and a “fist in the face”, he was subject to an online backlash over his ironic comments. A few days ago he updated his public Facebook page with this post in response to the backlash:

tony viech sooo hurtzzzz

Tony paints himself as some kind of unsung hero who has rebuilt his life after surviving what he called a “hideous relationship.” You can lie by omission. What Tony fails to point out in his post is this: In 2005 he beat his then partner Kristin Dunne-Powell so badly that he broke her spine in four places. This was the “hideous relationship” he was referring to. In 2009 he went up against six charges of assault of which all but one were dropped. He admitted in the court of law to “one charge of injuring his partner with reckless disregard” as Stuff media reported, these were the injuries that resulted in Kristin’s numerous spinal fractures.

I’d like you to take a moment to think about the kind of force which is needed to snap and fracture bone. Marc Otten, a neurosurgeon at Columbia University, said in relation to the force needed to break a  spine, “If you’re talking about somebody with a normal spine, then you’d need tremendous willpower.”  Take some time to think about how hard Tony would have had to kick Kristen repeatedly, in the back, for her spine to give way and splinter.

After beating Kristen he went to bed, leaving her to drag herself around, unable to walk or even reach the phone. When she pleaded with him to call her an ambulance he even refused her this basic help. Before this incident there had already been years of documented sustained abuse which included Tony violently kicking and punching Kristin. Yet, Tony wants the public to feel sorry for him? He wants to convince you that somehow he is the victim thus refusing to take responsibilty for his violent actions. I responded to his post with these words:  

post in response

Tony also negates to tell you he paid almost nothing for his horrific crimes against his partner. He did attempt to buy Kristin’s silence with 100,000 bucks worth of “hush money” and he was ordered by the courts to pay a measly 10,000 fine and got 300 hours of community service. He lost his Friday morning Radio Sport breakfast show after he was convicted but he later regained what he calls his “dream job” and he has continued commentating on sports with a weekly radio spot.

In 2011 Tony even had PM John Key on his show where they talked about which famous women John would have on his “wish list.” Because shooting the breeze’ with a known violent offender who has shown no remorse and done no restorative justice work, about which famous women he has a “crush” on is totally how a prime minister should behave? John Key, one of the most powerful men in Aotearoa, implicitly publicly sanctioned Tony’s abuse against Kristen by appearing on his radio show. But John’s dismal behaviour should surprise no one as he is well known for “minimising” and pardoning gendered violence.

When the heinous acts of the rapist gang known as the Roast Busters made international headlines, John said in response to this group of young men who had been violently gang raping young girls then boasting about it on Youtube, “These young guys should just grow up.” Newflash: behaviour like Tony’s and the Roast Busters are culturally taught and therefore need to be challenged, unlearned, and the behaviour patterns disrupted.

Violent misogynistic behaviour is not just something young boys will eventually grow out of. We raise boys to adhere to rigid, toxic stereotypes of manhood; collectively and culturally we tell boys the way to become men is to sever some of the most powerful and life saving emotions we have as human beings: compassion and empathy.

Young men are taught that to be vulnerable is to be weak: all these things are directly associated with the feminine. The word ‘girl’ is often used to humiliate and put down boys and men who act in ways perceived as weak or emotional. Eve Ensler, noted playwright of The Vagina Monologues and founder of One Billion Rising, said in her moving TedX talk,

“I think the whole world has essentially been brought up not to be a girl. How do we bring up boys? What does it mean to be a boy? To be a boy really means not to be a girl. To be a man means not to be a girl. To be a woman means not to be a girl. To be strong means not to be a girl. To be a leader means not to be a girl. I actually think that being a girl is so powerful that we’ve had to train everyone not to be that.”

Toxic stereotypes of manhood and masculinity teach  boys and men that they must always be “tough,”  and that the only emotion they are allowed to feel  is anger with the exception of jealousy, all of this intersects with violence against women. These entrenched ideologies can’t just be palmed off and minimised as some passing adolescent phase or a one off thing. Men like Tony and the Roast Busters are not some aberration, they are a product of a culture that glorifies male power and dominance, while at the very same time glorifying and sexualing the subservience and submission of women. Aotearoa has the higest rates of intimate partner violence in the developed world, this is not just an epedemic it is deeply cultural.

The Roast Busters, like Tony, got away with their crimes; they were given no long term punishments and no jail time. What kind of message do you think this sends society? Other than the very large, clear sign that as a man you can beat, rape, and even kill women and get away with it. My own father sexually abused me as a child, and just like Tony, and exactly the same as the Roast Busters, he served no time for his crimes either. He was ordered to pay a couple of thousand bucks in compensation for what he did. Money, regardless of the amount, could never ever ease the lasting pain he has caused. My Farther, quite like Tony, has gone on in life, in his case to have another family, continuing to live in relative peace and happiness. 

So often men who commit unspeakably violent acts against women’s bodies go unpunished, thanks in part to a biased and sexist “justice” system dominated and controlled by white men. These men serve power; their perspectives and their efforts help the powerful, and not the relatively powerless. The lives of women are meaningless in the court of law. Where is our access to justice? 

Tony whinged publicly about the “online harassment” he was experiencing via his Facebook update because of his ill informed comments, but I doubt it compares to the “online harassment” that was directed at me and anyone else who called bullshit on Tony’s post that described himself as the victim. If you need any more evidence that sexist and abusive attitudes like Tony’s and the Roast Busters aren’t just some aberration but are in fact widespread, here it is. This is just one of the personal messages I received from a man in response to the post I made on Tony’s update:

still going

And of course men lifted photos from my Facebook page and made personal attacks on my appearancepersonal attacks on appaearance

The day after Tony’s “I am the victim” post, Women’s Refuge tweeted this:

directed at me

This is why I need feminism: because every one of those comments was actually directed at me. As Women’s Refuge pointed out what they tweeted was only “a few” of the abusive comments being thrown at me in response to my previously mentioned post. Any other women also who stood up to Tony were also called “crazy” or “loony” time and time again; the word “feminist” was endlessly used as an insult, as if fighting for gender equality is some kind of evil that must be outed:
crazy 3Tony Veitch did not moderate any of these abusive and often misogynistic comments; he stayed silent and allowed them to remain on his Facebook page until he finally took his post down 24 hours later. Please tell me again how he is a changed man and deserves redemption?  I guess Tony only cares about harassment and online abuse when it is happening to him.

Notably Netsafe has come out in defense of Tony. Stuff reported yesterday that Netsafe Director, Martin Cocker, had said in support of Tony “[People] just become abusive and angry and try to create a public shaming type event out of it, at which point this crosses over from a positive thing to a negative.” Martin has suggested some people had “stepped over the mark” and some of the reactions were born from a “mob mentality.” Martin was not talking about the violent comments directed at any women who took a stand against Tony, he was talking about the “online harassment” Tony alleged he was facing.

Where is Netsafe’s defence of Kristin? In Tony’s original post he slagged her off: remember that “hideous relationship” comment? Where is Netsafe’s defense of me and the other women who endured the very public online “mob like” attacks from Tony’s supporters? Spoken word poet and writer Hadassah Grace penned a necessary and powerful political essay entitled, “Who the hell is Tony Veitch” which she posted the day after Tony made his post. In it she takes a stand against violence against women and speaks about the serious trauma Kristin continues to endure because of Tony. For her efforts Hadassah received these online threats:


And yes, it gets worse and even more violently abusive:

11219441_10153386244137600_2351903662194958109_nYou want to talk about “online abuse and harassment”?! Try highlighting the threats of violence and rape women who dare have a dissenting opinion in public space have to deal with on the daily. Honestly, fuck Tony Veitch. He has no idea.

In Aotearoa we don’t just give rich white men like Tony a “get out of free jail card” when they beat women over sustained periods of time and break their bones, we celebrate them. We pat them on the back, hand them a beer, watch a bit of rugby with them and say: “Oh well, you only kind of fractured Kristin’s spine and it was a one off, so don’t sweat it bro!”  No wonder Tony thinks he is the “victim” and has done nothing wrong; our society, including John Key and now also the executive director of Netsafe, have collectively reinforced this message. While Tony was busily “rebuilding” his career Kristin’s injuries eventually prevented her from returning to her own job. In Kristin’s 2009 victim impact statement she said,

“Since July 2008, my family and I have been harassed and hunted by some journalists… It feels like there is no end to the spreading of malicious lies, rumors and falsehoods… this has made it difficult for me to regain employment.”

If anyone knows what it feels like to be harassed and about the work it takes to “rebuild” your life after massive trauma, it is Kristin. Hadassah Grace writes,

[Kristen] has had to have years of physical therapy and counseling for PTSD. Muscles in her back have permanently atrophied, causing disfigurement. She has ongoing triggers and panic attacks. She has been hospitalized for nervous breakdowns as a result of PTSD.

On the other hand Tony who put his partner in a wheel chair, will not face any life-long consequences for his appalling behaviour, on the contrary; he gets a secure job which puts him in the top earning bracket in Aotearoa – that 10,000 dollar fine he paid is mere pocket change to him.  He has hundreds of thousands of supporters and dudebro cheerleaders who are prepared to defend him via social media till their last, abusive breath. After his “poor me” post Tony gained at least another 2,000 “likes” on his Facebook page. Despite what Tony apparently believes, compared to Kristin and the one billion women and girls who are survivors of rape and violence on this earth, he has not had to “rebuild” shit.

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You can also read Hadassah Grace’s full “Who the hell is Tony Veich” piece in full here.

Kia ora all! I am freelancing which means I have no secure income so, I rely on donations from the wider public to keep myself economically afloat. If you like what I have to say and want to support me, you can make a direct contribution via my bank account:


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Thanks very much for your aroha and time