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He said what? Exercise and good food will help you ignore abuse apparently. If only we knew!

Image of young woman with backlighting with statement saying "leave me alone"

This si a continued saga from my previous Blog. Today, I find myself even more deeply angered after reflecting on the situation involving GG and the shoplifting charge she is facing. Viewing this through the lens of the relentless bullying she has endured since joining the Green Party adds a layer of trauma to an already complex situation. You may have read my previous piece on this and trauma.

Unfortunately, it’s a familiar narrative for yet another non-white woman who has been disproportionately exposed to bullying and abuse. The reported context of mental distress surrounding the alleged shoplifting incident, coupled with a recent diagnosis of MS, provides crucial additional context. The legal aspect is now in the hands of the courts, but the still today ongoing abuse directed at Ghahraman is simply reprehensible.

What has fueled my frustration even further is the response from member of parliament. When asked about G’s mental health, they replied with a simplistic “exercise and a good diet goes a long way to helping with mental health.”

It’s disheartening that they believe such basic remedies can erase the trauma of vile threats and bullying, showcasing a clear lack of understanding regarding the profound impact of trauma on mental well-being.

Bullying is a known contributor to declining mental health, leading to distress. Mental health issues encompass not only our thoughts and feelings but also our behaviour. While physical well-being is undoubtedly important, being the victim of heinous attacks like G has endured undoubtedly takes a toll on her physical health, but that isn’t the concern.

The suggestion of such a simplistic and naive remedy is appalling, and it places them among those who perpetuate the bullying. The comments diminish G’s experiences, insinuating that her ability to stand up to bullies is linked to her lifestyle choices.

Numerous studies highlighting gender differences in bullying demonstrate that more women face such challenges than men. For instance, in a review of research on gender and workplace bullying (Salin, 2018), several studies emphasised a stronger association between cyberbullying and mental health issues among women compared to men.

It is crucial for all of us to be outspoken in challenging such perspectives. Over the past couple of years in Aotearoa NZ, we’ve witnessed too many individuals, primarily women, forced to step down from their roles due to distress caused by online and covert bullying. Some key figures in the country are leading these attacks, attracting disaffected and angry individuals to follow suit. It’s time for us all to unite and say, “Enough. This must stop.”

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