11 Dec 2018

Domestic violence found in all communities - report

1:37 pm on 11 December 2018

Family violence features in all suburbs, according to a new report which reveals one in four women from high-income households experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

domestic violence, abuse

Photo: eakmoto/123RF

Dr Ian Lambie, the justice sector chief science advisor, released a discussion paper today that said family violence is widespread in New Zealand and goes on behind closed doors in all communities.

Dr Lambie's report comes after police investigated more than 120,000 family harm incidents in 2017 - equating to one every four minutes.

He said while talking about the wellbeing of babies seemed a long way from arguments about the prison muster, all evidence pointed to targeting family violence from an early age.

The report revealed at least one in 10 Kiwi men have experienced childhood sexual abuse but that reported number was only a tiny proportion of what was likely to actually be occurring.

"Preventing family violence is both very simple and very complicated," Dr Lambie said. "Day-to-day, it's about not ignoring the way your friend's partner treats them, or not judging the disruptive child at school and just wanting them kicked out.''

Research showed the cost of early intervention and breaking the cycle of family violence was far less than the cost of putting adults in prison.

No caption

Dr Ian Lambie Photo: RNZ / Jo Moir

While Dr Lambie said it should be simple starting with the needs of children and families, New Zealand was "poorly served when social services are not supported to work well together''.

The report outlined the impacts of family violence, which were described as "substantial" and went on to affect things like the way adults parent their children.

Dr Lambie said while the transmission of intergenerational violence, neglect and maltreatment was "far too common", it was not inevitable.

Intimate-partner violence was the leading cause of murder of women and the most common type that women experienced.

"At least one third of New Zealand women experience physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime, rising up to more than half when psychological/emotional abuse is included.''

The report also acknowledged high rates of family violence in Māori and Pasifika communities and a need for it to be tackled by "culturally appropriate approaches''.

Diverse communities including children and adults with disabilities, refugees and migrants and LGBTQI people could all be at risk of family violence and more skills and resources were needed in those areas, Dr Lambie said.

International and local evidence showed "family violence can be prevented by wider social understanding of the importance of childhood, thereby reducing all forms off adverse experiences in early life'', he said.

Where to get help:

Women's Refuge: (0800 733 843)

It's Not OK (0800 456 450)

Shine: 0508 744 633

Victim Support: 0800 650 654

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): be 04 801 6655 - 0

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs