Brother fights domestic violence
September 5, 2014
John McGrath, brother to Patricia McGrath who was killed early in 2013 by her partner, has been campaigning around the Northland region. In July, John became a White Ribbon Ambassador in order to “plant the seed in [boys’] heads now” so that they can stop the damage of family violence before it begins. Patricia’s death affirms that male violence against women can be fatal and has a detrimental impact on many lives. Patricia’s family reached out to White Ribbon to help support our anti-violence message, to share Patricia’s story with others and to create awareness about violence against women.
Patricia was a 34 year old mother of two and a case worker at Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ). Her family describe as someone who was very caring and loved to help people; a wonderful and beautiful person. The loss of Patricia has been a huge blow to her family and friends, as well as the community as a whole. Patricia’s death affirms that male violence against women can be fatal and has a detrimental impact on many lives. The following article offers more information about Patricia: Click here to read more.
By ALEXANDRA NEWLOVE
The brother of a Northland woman who was killed by her partner is stepping up as the region’s first White Ribbon ambassador.
John McGrath has campaigned ferociously on behalf of domestic violence victims and their families, since the death of Patricia McGrath in January last year.
The mother-of-two died of a brain injury after she was punched in the face by partner Phillip Mahanga.
Mahanga is serving a three-year sentence for manslaughter.
McGrath’s first act as an ambassador was to urge students at Whangarei Boys’ High School to consider the seriousness of the country’s domestic violence problem.
“We never thought this was going to happen to us, but our family has had this disaster, and now we’re on a journey to change things and make them better,” he says.
“These boys will be men soon and some will even be parents soon. We need to plant the seed in their heads now. We’ll speak at every school in this country if we can – we need to bring these [domestic violence] stats down, especially in Northland.”
McGrath, who spoke alongside wife Kate McGrath, told the boys of how his “role model” sister changed once she entered a relationship with Mahanga.
He said she became increasingly isolated and withdrawn from family life, and started getting angry with her children “which was not who she was at all,” McGrath said.
“Usually we’d go around and we’d walk straight in and help ourselves to tea, but it started changing and she’d be waiting at the door – you’d know we weren’t welcome because he was there. He dominated her and isolated her, then he took control and at the end just killed her.”
McGrath told The Leader his sister’s death has changed the way he views the relationship between men and women.
“It’s definitely changed the way I look at men, especially Maori men – we once were warriors. When you think about a warrior, he is respectful, he has mana, he is noble. Our young men still have that pack mentality but none of that mana.”
He says this certainly doesn’t apply to all Maori men, and is the result of long-term oppression.
“Introduced religion has made [Maori] lose identity. We’ve got to come back to earth and realise man is not better than woman,” he says. “I don’t care if people run me down on that, because my heart is already broken and it can’t break any more. We’re not the ones who should have the life sentence.”
As a White Ribbon ambassador, McGrath joins a national and international network of men speaking out against violence towards women.