domestic violence, abuse and people concept - man beating helpless woman at home

FAMILY harm has reared its ugly head, with December’s statistics a harrowing reflection of a decade full of hurt.

A massive 267 incidents of family harm were reported to Eastern Bay police in December alone, and with numbers rising by 12 percent annually many in the country experience this first-hand.

Nationally, every four minutes the police are called to a family harm-related incident.

“The Eastern Bay of Plenty contributes an unhealthy chunk of New Zealand’s shocking family violence statistics,” Eastern Bay of Plenty family harm prevention manager Sergeant Dave Beattie said.

“I am part of many agencies, government and NGOs that are asking the same question, ‘when is this going to slow down?’ When will this hurt, and the harm being done to whanau within our community stop?”

Hapaitia te Oranga Tangata- Safe and effective justice, is a cross-sector initiative set up to transform the criminal justice system, and a significant amount of work has been done to address these questions.

“People told us that services directed at family violence are too fragmented, under- resourced, often poorly targeted and ineffective,” a report by Hapaitia te Oranga Tangata, titles, He Waka Roimata, transforming our criminal justice system, notes.

The report echoes sentiments Mr Beattie shared about family violence, including the strain it has on smaller rural communities.

“Not all communities have equal access to the services that do exist, for example, we heard rural people often struggle to access services,” the report states.

About 40 percent of homicide in New Zealand is family violence related, and Maori are four times more likely to be killed by family violence than non-Maori.

Family Works family violence response co-ordinator Rachel Rangikouta said although resources were available for those effected by family violence, there were still gaps to be addressed, particularly working with men.

“There are some gaps, and most of the help that they provide is for women but without working with the men, nothing is really going to change.

“It can be hard for those who are looking for help that haven’t been court directed yet,” Ms Rangikouta said.

Mr Beattie has worked in the family harm sector for 12 years, and these most recent statistics had sparked outrage from Eastern Bay first responders.

“Make 2020 a year of change if the past few years have contained too much sadness with violence in the home,” he said.

“It’s the beginning of a new year and it’s the beginning of a new decade and people need to ask themselves; do they want another decade of this?” Mr Beattie said.

He Waka Roimata notes it is not easy to walk away from family violence.

“Family violence has been described as both ‘very simple and very complicated’. It is simple, because most people agree that violence in families should not be tolerated.

“However, it is complicated because (among other things) it speaks to our beliefs about relationships and gender, about who should be responsible for family and whanau wellbeing in our communities and how public and private resources should be used,” the report said.

With new programmes on the horizon, Ms Rangikouta said the crux of their work was to keep whanau safe.

“This new programme is hoping to catch the men and women in these situations and to keep families safe, and to help them to change,” she said.

“What part of aroha is that coming from. What good can come from this violence and what is it teaching the next generation?

“When does this end, how much blood needs to be on the floor before the story is over?” Mr Beattie said.

Where to reach out if you need help:

  • Family Works 3071133 – Family counselling, Women’s (WAVE) and children’s (Restore) programme
  • Ngati Awa Social and Health Services (07) 3060096 – Family support
  • Whanau Awhina Women’s Refuge (07) 3085531
  • Tuhoe Hauora (07) 3129874 – Family support
  • Tuwharetoa Ki Kawerau Hauora (07) 3238025
    Family support, non-violence programme for men, family violence team
  • Tautoko Mai 0800227233 – Sexual Assault Support Service
  • Whakatane Police (07) 3085255 – Family Harm Team
  • Shine 0508744633 – Family and Domestic Violence Helpline
  • It’s not OK 0800456450 – Domestic Violence Helpline
  • Women’s Refuge Crisisline 0800733843 – Women’s Refuge Helpline