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Cheer Not Family Fear As Christmas Looms

Cheer Not Family Fear As Christmas Looms
New Zealand Police Wellington News Release
9:28am 1 December 2008

Wellington Police and other agencies dealing with domestic violence say Christmas and the holiday period should be a time for cheer not family fear.

Detective Sergeant Penny Gifford, Wellington City Police family violence coordinator, says sadly the festive season is not all fun and laughter as it usually coincides with an increase in domestic violence.

"Excessive alcohol consumption, increased opportunities for social get togethers and stretched family finances add to the stress which is then vented on partners and children," she says. "Domestic violence is happening in all suburbs, it's not just a lower socio-economic issue."

Detective Sergeant Gifford says Wellington Police is already seeing more domestic related family violence incidents as Christmas approaches. On average five reports a day will be made to Wellington police alone - last week there were 52 notifications.

"Not every case leads to arrest," she says. "Levels of intervention differ depending on the circumstances. The focus of police is first ensuring people are safe and then with partner agencies offering support and encouraging behavioural change.

"It would be great to have a family violence free festive season but the increased reports are not necessarily a bad thing. Increased reporting often stems from friends, neighbours or colleagues who know someone is getting abused and who want the violence stopped."

Detective Sergeant Gifford encourages people to report family violence. "Police and some fantastic organisations are working really hard in Wellington listening to people's concerns about domestic violence and doing something about it.

"The days of having to cope with domestic violence on your own are gone. We can't address issues if we don't know about them," she says. "We want to hear about those verbal arguments so that we can get in and support people before the abuse becomes physical."

Some of the agencies ready to help are: Wellington Police 04 381 2000 (or www.police.govt.nz); Wellington Women's Refuge 04 939 0455; Te Whare Rokiroki Maori Women's Refuge 04 3800917; Relationship Services 0800 RELATE (0800 735 283); Wellington Ending Abuse and Violence 04 384 8275; Victim Support 04 802 3747; Age Concern 04 567 4998 and Child, Youth and Family Services 0800 FAMILY (0800326 459); www.areyouok - 0800 456 450.


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