White Ribbon New Zealand

Mark Longley – My advice to Tony Veitch

OPINION: Tony Veitch, back in the spotlight again – not for what he would have hoped for, but because of what he did to Kristin Dunne.

The sports commentator, stupidly in my opinion, let it be known he is returning to TV on a Sky Sports show. You would have thought Sky has enough troubles without employing Veitch, who brings with him an avalanche of social media abuse every time he makes announcements like these. It looks like Sky has now come to its senses with the announcement it is “working on a new line-up”.

Veitch, in his own words, has suffered since that night some 11 years ago when he kicked his partner Kristin Dunne so hard in the back it fractured. That is no mean feat, the force needed to crack a bone is substantial and not done easily.

Veitch, who publicly said his actions shamed his family, must be wondering if New Zealand will ever move on from the horrific abuse he subjected Kristin to and let him get on with his career.

Well we will Tony, and that time is when you stand up and take responsibility for what you did to Kristin. Apologise to her for the damage you caused both her and her family’s life. I know Kristin, not well, but our paths have crossed and she is a remarkable woman who has moved on from this. It’s you who seems unable to progress through it.

What you did, according to her statement to police, was kick in her in the back so hard you fractured it. Then you denied responsibility, allegedly claiming she fell down the stairs. You then paid her off to keep quiet and, although your career was hit, you basically got away with it.

A couple of years ago, when the Herald ran a series about domestic violence called We’re Better Than This, you issued a clumsy apology for what you did, which again set off an avalanche of abuse on social media.

The problem was it was an apology, just not to Kristin and her family, but to your family and the people in your life who had been affected.

You opened the statement by saying you were a man you could not control. You made a huge mistake, a grave misjudgement and you were truly sorry.

Here is the issue Tony, and let me preface this by why I have some opinion on the matter. Six years ago the partner of my daughter Emily Longley went one step further than you and murdered her.

He was in a rage and told the trial when he was convicted, she had driven him to it. She had made him angry and he had reacted. That he too had made a grave error of judgement.

His name is Elliot Turner and even his mother Anita, in the stand, blamed my daughter for what had happened. Her murder came after a short, but sustained period of verbal, then violent abuse for which Turner never once accepted responsibility. It was, according to him, all Emily’s fault.

I am sure Elliot Turner, as he lies in a cell contemplating what happened to him, still believes he has been hard done by and that Emily was to blame. I am not holding out much hope for an apology.

One of the most common reasons a violent partner or parent gives is “they made me do it.” “If she hadn’t of made me so angry I wouldn’t have lost my temper.”

The blame is put fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the victim, the woman, who is by now probably beaten into submission and believes it is her fault.

This is an attitude in New Zealand – with our appalling family violence statistics – that needs to change. Losing your temper and being violent is a choice, not an excuse.

It is not an excuse to hit a woman, child or anyone. Neither is being stressed or overworked as you alluded to.

Don’t blame circumstances and don’t paint the assault as a one-off event, own up to the fact you, like many men in New Zealand, had a problem.

That is what is needed Tony, a full and frank confession and evidence you are truly sorry for what you did to Kristin and her family.

I am involved with an organisation called White Ribbon now and part of our message is to get men to take accountability for their actions, get help and change their behaviour. Part of that process is owning up to the fact they have a problem and seeking redemption from those they have been violent to. I am going to repeat that point because it is important, it is about owning up to the fact they have a problem, not the woman, not the child, but the man.

You want redemption, you want to be able to rebuild your career and you want people to move on, well then atone for what you did.

As a father who lost a daughter to violence, what you did to Kristin is horrifying, but even more so I condemn you for not taking the opportunity to set an example to all violent men. Own up to what you really did and ask for the forgiveness of Kristin and her family, not the people of New Zealand.

Mark Longley is the managing editor of Newshub digital and a trustee of White Ribbon.