Loves-Me-Not Relationship Education
Loves-Me-Not uses a whole school approach and a one-day workshop for Year 12 students to explore healthy relationships and the sometimes difficult subject of relationship abuse and consent.
Following the death of Sophie at the hands of a former boyfriend it became clear that she had been in a typically abusive relationship. It was also evident that neither Sophie nor her mother, Lesley, had been able to see where things were going wrong. The conclusion was that if these two intelligent adults couldn’t see the signs then many others would be in the same situation.
A foundation was formed in Sophie’s name aimed at lowering the levels of domestic violence through education. In 2013 the Sophie Elliott Foundation partnered with the New Zealand Police and the Ministry of Social Development to develop Loves-Me-Not.
Intent and purpose
The long-term outcome sought from Loves-Me-Not is that young people live their lives free from the harm of unhealthy and abusive relationships.
Loves-Me-Not focuses on healthy (equal) relationships as opposed to unhealthy (controlling) ones. Through education, young people are able to recognise:
Insidious behaviour is often dismissed during the early stages of a relationship, when things are new and exciting. However, once someone has taken the power away from another person, it is often very difficult for the victim to get out. Therefore, in Loves-Me-Not students:
Loves-Me-Not relationship education is a whole school approach to positive relationships. It includes a one-day Year 12 workshop that has been designed to engage young people in the qualities of positive relationships and relationship abuse.
The workshop component of Loves-Me-Not is delivered by up to three facilitators trained by Police. The facilitators comprise a teacher, a police officer and can include a representative of a non-governmental organisation working in the field of family violence prevention. The workshop is linked to the NZ Curriculum so that schools and students are still achieving educational outcomes, whilst looking at an important social issue.
The workshop is incorporated into a whole school approach that enables a culture of respectful relationships in the school community.
Loves-Me-Not provides opportunities for students to plan and take action themselves to influence their school and wider community to prevent abuse.
Loves-Me-Not is a partnership.
The Sophie Elliott Foundation has provided a range of resources for Loves-Me-Not, including videos and short vignettes that are used during the workshop, for example to explore qualities of a good relationship, and the factors that could erode it. Also included is a film designed for parents that explains how Loves-Me-Not works.
Lesley Elliott has written a book with William J O’Brien based around Sophie’s story, which shows how to recognise signs of abuse, and provides strategies to cope. The book is supplied free of charge to students undertaking Loves-Me-Not, and can be used in future years to give young people sound advice. The book is published by Penguin Random House New Zealand and printed through sponsorship by Zonta. Please see below for more information about the Loves-Me-Not book.
Loves-Me-Not: An essential guide for keeping relationships safe
In 2008, the horrific murder of Sophie Elliott by her former boyfriend and university tutor, Clayton Weatherston, shocked the nation. During the police investigation it became clear Sophie’s murderer was a typical abuser who had a track record of treating partners badly.
Sophie’s mother, Lesley Elliott, driven to research domestic and partner abuse, was astonished to find the very characteristics evident in abusive relationships were right there in Sophie’s. Lesley quickly realised that if she and Sophie, ‘through ignorance and naivety’ missed the signs, then so could many others.
International research suggested education was the key; Lesley set up the Sophie Elliott Foundation to raise awareness among all young people, their friends and families to the signs of partner abuse.
Loves-Me-Not includes advice and suggestions on how to identify problems, how to deal with them and where to seek help.
Also included is ‘One for the Boys’, a chapter written by well-known clinical psychologist and commentator, Nigel Latta.
“If you think you are unsafe, then you probably are.“
In July 2014 the Sophie Elliott Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with Zonta International District 16. This was a very important moment as it secured a partnership between us and Zonta that will enable Lesley’s book Loves-Me-Not to be offered free of charge to students completing the Loves-Me-Not workshops. The Sophie Elliott Foundation is truly grateful to the 28 Zonta Clubs nationwide who pledged to carry out fundraising for book purchases over their 2014/2016 biennium project period. Clubs voted to continue on with this project for 2016 to 2018.
Zonta International is a global organisation of 30,000 members in business and professions working together to empower women through service and advocacy. There are 28 clubs in New Zealand from Northland to Otago. To find out more about Zonta go to the NZ website: www.zonta.org.nz or the Zonta International website: www.zonta.org