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Merry Family Christmas

Merry Family Christmas

Counties Manukau Police Family Violence Teams are sending many families a letter to their homes encouraging a peaceful and violence free Merry Family Christmas during the festive season.

Detective Inspector John Tims, Crime Services Manager, says family violence is a crime, and unfortunately this time of the year is one of the busiest for Police dealing with family violence.

"Sadly the casualties are often the children who are caught up in the violence and, through no fault of their own, end up having a terrible Christmas."

Mr Tims says the good news is that the violence can be reduced by encouraging victims to take a stand against violence by reporting the crime, and by encouraging those who cause the crime to take positive steps to change their behaviour.

"We are seeing more victims reporting family violence, but we need to keep this momentum going. We would like to see the same increase in offenders seeking help to stop verbally and physically abusing others in their families."

Last year Counties Manukau Police attended more than 2000 family violence incidents during the months of December and January. Family violence incidents can range from verbal abuse through to serious physical assaults, and in extreme cases, they can result in death.

"There are pressures on people at this time of year," Mr Tims said. "Violence will often stem from issues such as money, visiting relatives, relationship problems, access to children and other pressures associated with Christmas. Alcohol also plays a significant part in the escalation of violence in the home. There are however no excuses for violence."

Police are working with partner agencies and community groups to try and reduce the workload on all the services associated with family violence. Contacting known at risk families with a Christmas message encouraging peace in the home is one of the strategies.

"This is just another way to reinforce our drive towards changing attitudes about family violence. We are encouraging both victims and offenders of family violence that it is okay to ask for help and that they will be listened to."

Mr Tims says those at risk are asked to think about the message, think about their children and to ask for help before violence starts and ruins Christmas for the whole family.

The initiative supports an ongoing nation-wide campaign with the slogan, "Family violence is not OK, but it is OK to ask for help!"

Counties Manukau Police say there are some practical tips that will assist everyone to have a calm, happy and safe Merry Family Christmas and New Year.

 Set aside money to cover bills in January and February.

 Don't spend more on Christmas than you can afford. Christmas can be about spending time together as a family, not about buying expensive presents.

 Moderate your alcohol consumption. You don't need to drink to excess to have a good time.

 Don't drink and drive. Arrange for transport home prior to going out or appoint a sober driver.

 If you share custody of children, come to an agreement before Christmas so that children get to spend time with each of you.

 Problems can be resolved without arguments.

 Take time out. If things become heated or stressful, go somewhere for a few hours to let things calm down.

 If you are feeling afraid or overwhelmed, talk to someone you trust.

 If you want help to avoid or prevent family violence, contact an appropriate agency. Some are listed below.

 Most importantly, if you have any fears for your own or your children's safety, contact the Police immediately.

Agencies & phone numbers (Auckland South Area)

24 hr Police Emergency 111 24 hr Women's Refuge (09) 378 1893 24 hr Victim Support 0800 842 846 24 hr Life Line – Auckland 09) 522 2999 24 hr Counselling Services Centre (09) 277 9324 24 hr Youth Line 0800 376 6333 24 hr Crisis Team (Mental Health) 0800 800 717 24 hr Shine (Previously PVH) 0508 384 357 Family Violence. It’s Not OK (9am-11pm) 0800 456 450 Mens Line - 6.30pm - 10.30pm (09) 522 2500 South Auckland FV Prevention Network (09) 278 9266

Or visit: www.areyouok.org.nz

ENDS

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