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Family Violence: Help That Is Available During Lockdown

Level 4 lockdown means that many New Zealanders are being forced to work and live at home 24/7 with an abusive partner, family member, or flatmate - with very few options to get away or get help.

Additional stress or conflict created by the impact of lockdown on jobs, finances, unwell or elderly family members, and childcare, may also heighten the risk of physical abuse and more serious violence in these situations.

It is important for all New Zealanders to know the following:

  • If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, ring 111. If it is not safe to talk, you can then press 55 to be put through to police, who will ask you questions to answer by pressing keys on your phone. Read more about the silent solution.
  • If you are in danger in your bubble at home, it is OK to leave to keep yourself safe, for example you could go to a supermarket or chemist and then contact police on 111 for help.
  • Family violence helplines, refuges and other crisis services are considered essential services and will continue to operate during lockdown.
  • See below for a list of specialist family violence helplines, including online chat options if it’s not safe to talk. Some of these also provide support for people worried about their own abusive behaviour with a family or household member.

Family Violence Specialist Helplines:

For anyone experiencing family violence, worried about their own abusive behaviour, or supporting someone else in these situations:

For anyone worried about their own abusive behaviour:

For anyone who experiences sexual harm:

  • Safe to Talk – 24/7 (sexual harm helpline): 0800-044-334 OR text 4334 – 24/7. Chat online at www.safetotalk.nz
  • We also have some important advice for New Zealanders who are supporting someone else who is experiencing family violence or who is worried about their own abusive behaviour: 
  1. DO NO HARM. Well-intentioned efforts to communicate with someone living with an abusive partner may end up further endangering them. ALWAYS be careful about communicating with someone at home who you know or suspect is experiencing domestic violence. Always assume that an abusive partner is hearing or seeing your communication, and avoid alerting them that that you know or suspect the abuse. If you need advice about how to help someone you are concerned about, ring Shine’s Helpline or one of the family violence helplines listed above.
  2. If you are supporting someone else, even if it’s not safe to be specific about your concerns with them, it is helpful to stay in touch with them however that may be possible and safe to do. Staying in touch with people outside of their bubble may help to provide emotional support, distraction, and possibly time when they will be safer from abuse.
  3. Remember:
  • Family violence is abuse within a family relationship, which is defined by NZ law as intimate partners or ex-partners, any family or whānau relationship, anyone sharing a household (flatmates) or any two people with a close, personal relationship. Family violence is not just physical violence, but a range of behaviours that have the intention or effect of coercing (making someone do something using force or threats) or controlling someone.
  • Family violence is not OK, but it is OK to ask for help.
  • It’s OK to ask for help whether you are experiencing family violence or worried about your own abusive behaviour. You can also ring any of the above helplines for advice about supporting someone else.

Employers can also find advice from Shine’s DVFREE workplace programme about supporting their employees experiencing family violence during lockdown here: [ https://www.dvfree.org.nz/news/advice-for-nz-employers-during-lockdown/ ]

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