Exposure to family violence can have a damaging effect on a child's development.
This is preventable.
WARNING: the following contains descriptions of child abuse.
Zhalin Cecil is one of our Top Blokes Mentors. He's a big man; half Maori and half Cook Islander, 31 years old and standing at 6'2". He was born and raised in South Auckland, New Zealand - the "Home of the Brave".
His childhood was marred by extreme violence.
When Zhalin was 6, he was left in the care of his aunty while his parents returned to the Cook Islands for a funeral. For the next 2 months, Zhalin was subjected to torture. He was stripped naked and beaten. His knuckles were smashed in with metal dustpans and other objects until they were bleeding. Anytime he showed weakness or cried, he'd be burnt by cigarettes. He was 6. Eventually, his older cousin built up the courage to call Zhalin's mum and tell her what was going on. Zhalin was returned to his family, but the trauma of his abuse has had a huge influence on his life. Zhalin's story isn't uncommon. 1 in 9 boys have experienced physical or sexual abuse before the age of 15.
The impact of family violence can last a lifetime. It can have extremely damaging effects on a child's development, health and outcome. Research shows that exposure to family violence is associated with:
Physical and psychological disorders
Violent offending, and more.
However, with the right support, the cycle can be broken. Zhalin was lucky to find a mentor - a youth worker named Matthew Tuisamoa - who helped him as a teenager. He was a constant reminder that speaking up and changing isn't a sign of weakness in a man, despite what Zhalin had heard from his family growing up. Matthew's support had such an impact on Zhalin that he was inspired to become a mentor himself and do the same for other boys.
Now Zhalin is a dad. He teaches his 7-year-old son about resilience, kindness and compassion. He does the same with every boy he mentors as a Top Blokes Youth Worker.
With the impact Zhalin has on the boys he mentors, he confesses that he was looking for something like Top Blokes when he was facing his own issues with violence growing up. He often says,
"It's easier to raise up strong young boys than to repair broken men."
Talk to Zhalin today and you'll meet a compassionate, patient and articulate man. As a Top Blokes mentor, he helps hundreds of boys each year. He knows how to quickly connect with the boys and engage them when no one else can. And for boys just like him, this is crucial.
Talking to someone they respect and can relate to does incredible things and opens up the door to discuss complex and important issues. It gives boys the chance to learn skills and ways to cope with or overcome their circumstances in a safe and healthy way. This is where we can break the cycle of violence.
Top Blokes Foundation's mentors help boys to open up, seek help, regulate their emotions and build healthy relationships. They create a safe space where boys can build resilience and positive mental health, establish support networks, and learn healthy coping mechanisms. With the right support, a boy can break the cycle of violence.
Your support can help Mentors like Zhalin positively impact more young men. Please consider donating today.
All donations of $2 or more are tax-deductible. Once your donation has been processed, a tax receipt will be emailed to you.
If you'd like to talk to someone about the issues described above, please call:
Lifeline 13 11 14 Kids Helpline 1800 551 800 Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
If you believe someone is in immediate danger, call Police on 000.