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Lives At Risk In Homes Over Christmas



Lives At Risk In Homes Over Christmas

Women’s Refuge is urging women at risk of domestic violence over the holidays to take every possible step to protect themselves and their children, and for families and friends to also keep them safe.

The holiday period is widely recognised as one of the most stressful times for families and whanau, and is also a very dangerous time for many women and children in their own homes.

The Chief Executive of the National Collective of Independent Refuges, Heather Henare, says while Christmas and New Year should be a time of celebration, the reality for many women and children is quite the opposite.

“Many of them enter this period particularly fearful because they are living in homes with domestic violence.”

“We know the additional stress and drinking around this time helps to fuel the violence of some men, and it is very often their family that cops it.”

Ms Henare says the danger over the holidays was tragically demonstrated at Christmas-New Year 2005/2006 when seven women were killed by their partners or former partners, leaving 19 children without a mother.

“In Christmas week last year we also had around 450 women and children staying in our safe houses, because sadly that was the best place for them.”

“I would like to think we could head into these holidays feeling a bit more optimistic for our women and children, but with recorded violence rising and the demand for our services still high we can’t.”

Ms Henare is urging families and whanau to look out for their women and children, and be aware of the danger signs of domestic violence.

“In the same way people are urged to take on the road safety message, they need to take on the message about doing something about domestic violence and ensuring it isn’t tolerated in any way.”

She says women experiencing violence or at risk of it should also have a safety plan in place for themselves and their children.

Ms Henare says information about domestic violence and safety plans is available from any Women’s Refuge, as well as at www.womensrefuge.org.nz.

“Women should remember that help is available from Refuge 24 hours a day, Christmas Day, or any day, and that they shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed to ask.”

For further information:

Heather Henare – Chief Executive NCIWR – 04-802-5078
Catherine Delore – Communications Adviser – 027-3224688


There has usually been a history of a controlling and/or violent relationship before men killed their partner or former partner. The following are the warning signs that have been identified from the reviews of domestic violence killings.

• Threats to kill or commit suicide
• Jealous and controlling behaviour
• Stalking or harassment (including texting, emailing, phoning, checking)
• Previous domestic violence, especially increasing severity or frequency of violence
• A relationship break-up
• The victims starts a new relationship or applies for a court order
• Isolation of the victim (they have no social or family support)
• Aggravating problems (drug and alcohol misuse, some mental health problems)
• Violence to others (bar fights, harming animals, using weapons)
• Abuser is obsessed and unable to let go
• Victim is very afraid


There are things that victims of violence can do to be safer.

If it is safe, get together a bag that you can leave with a friend or whanau/family member or keep one in a place you can get to in a hurry – include

• a copy of your protection order or any other court orders
• medicine for you and your children
• copies of birth certificates for you and your children
• passports for you and your children
• clothes
• toiletries
• children’s favourite toys
• spare cash
• driver’s licence
• copies of bank details/accounts
• other important documents eg: residency, insurance
• important phone numbers
• treasured items like photos or jewellery

Keep emergency numbers with you, such as Police, Women’s Refuge, doctors, lawyers, neighbours, whanau/family

If possible, have a cellphone and remember you can call 111 on it even without any credit on the phone

Talk to your friends and neighbours. Let them know you are at risk. Set up a code/password with them so that if they hear you use it they know you are in danger, and they should ring the police.

Talk to your children and set up a code/password with them. If they hear it, they know to run from the house and go to a safe neighbour’s place to call the police.

Plan and practice a safe escape route from the house for you and your children. If you are trapped in the house, run to the safest room – one which has a window or door to the outside. Keep away from the kitchen and garage and anywhere else where weapons are kept.

Trust your own instincts. You are the one who has the best idea what the violent person might do.

Get the help and support of an advocate. An advocate can help you work out the safest options. You can ring a confidential crisis line any time. Your local Women’s Refuge is listed under “W” in the white pages or go to www.womensrefuge.org.nz.


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