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Police families support white ribbon day

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Ōtautahi – A Canterbury detective and her father along with another brave police officer are sharing their own experiences of family violence to highlight White Ribbon Day today.

Detective Jaimie-Leigh Bergman’s parents separated when she was seven.  Her father was a very angry man.

He could be holding onto a glass and be triggered to the point where his bare hand crushed the glass, smashing it onto the floor.

She experienced psychological harm from his angry outbursts and psychologically abusive behaviour and remembered as a youngster, her dad walking out the door with packed bags and rarely seeing him after that.

Bergman was sent to Cholmondeley Respite Care Home for children in Ōtautahi when her parents separated.

At that time, she didn’t know her dad had suffered historical sexual abuse as a young child at an all-boys boarding school.

She says it took many years to undo the harm from her childhood experiences.

“I had to rewire my brain away from an automated flight/fight response.  But overcoming that trauma and being on the other side, the lessons I have learnt have made me who I am today and I wouldn’t change anything.

“I am very proud of my dad for having the courage to do the same thing because it isn’t easy and I hope this inspires many others to do the same as the rewards are phenomenal.”

Bergman’s father Floyd Ormsby didn’t have the easiest of childhoods.

The youngest of four, his mother passed away when he was only three years old. He was moved from household to household, suffering both physical and psychological abuse.

He ended up at a boarding school for boys where he was sexually abused.

Years later as an adult, he took out his hurt on his family. But now 63, Floyd has turned his life around to become a respectful husband in his third marriage, and role model to young men and women.

“Just because you’re a victim doesn’t mean you have to be a perpetrator. There’s far more help there today than there was fifty years ago. Get help and get it early,” he says.

Police officer Charlotte, not her real name, has bravely shared her story and wanted to be openly identified, however for legal reasons she cannot.

“The first punch he delivered shattered my forearm, then more and more punches followed.

I covered my head as much as possible. Then his hands were around my neck and I was struggling to breathe.”

More of Charlotte’s story here.

White ribbon ambassador and commissioner of police Andrew Coster commends the two police officers and Floyd for sharing their stories. 

“Police officers are not immune from these types of experiences. We are part of the wider community and unfortunately that means some of our people will be victims of violence. Family violence is one of our country’s biggest problems,” Coster says.

Te puna aonui, the collective of 10 government agencies of which police are part of, are responsible for implementing te aorerekura, the national strategy to eliminate family and sexual violence.

Photo: Detective Jaimie-Leigh Bergman