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Women’s Refuge:Watch out for emotional violence at Christmas

12th December 2011

Watch out for emotional violence at Christmas warns Women’s Refuge

Society needs to wake up about the role emotional and psychological abuse has in domestic violence, says Chief Executive of Women’s Refuge, Heather Henare.

Her comments come as part of concerns Women’s Refuge has in the lead up to the Christmas holiday season when spikes usually occur in domestic violence statistics.

“We captured details about abuse types from 63% of women who used our services this year. Of those, 91% report that they experienced some form of psychological, verbal, emotional or financial abuse,” says Ms Henare.

“Not all domestic violence results in bruises and broken bones,” she says. “Many women underestimate the impact of vicious put downs, threats, living in fear and being under strict financial control by their partners.”

It is this behaviour that can mean a woman has no control over money in the household and might end up stealing or begging her friends for basic products. “This is no way to feel at any time of the year let alone Christmas,” she says.

Some of the signs of emotional and psychological domestic violence are husbands or boyfriends who are jealous and possessive all the time, isolate a woman from her friends and family, play mind games, constantly criticise, have temper tantrums, and who control where she goes and what she spends. They tend to make all the rules in the house and in the relationship and may use children or pets to manipulate and control their partners.

“Some men may never need to resort to physical violence and control their partners with threats, fear tactics and cruel behaviours,” says Ms Henare.

She encourages anyone with concerns about domestic violence to visit www.womensrefuge.org.nz for more information or to call 0800 REFUGE (733 843) 24/7 for advice and help.

“Many people at this time of the year are also thinking of giving to us. They can do that by finding their nearest refuge and finding out what they need, or making monetary donations from our website,” she says

Women’s Refuge Key Messages for Christmas 2011

• Watch out for the signs of emotional and psychological domestic violence and don’t underestimate the impact this has on the health of the victim or children.

• Talk about it – family violence thrives in secrecy

• Take action – don’t ignore it if you see it or suspect it is happening

• If you want to donate goods or presents or cash, visit www.womensrefuge.org.nz to find out how

• Offer practical help and support parents and caregivers if they’re stressed

• Stress is not an excuse for family violence, but it can cause abuse to escalate. Try to stress less this Christmas.

• We need to believe and support women – not tell them what to do, but encourage them to seek help. They or you can call 0800 REFUGE (733 843) 24/7, even on Christmas day.

• If a woman or child’s life is in danger, or if a child is suffering from abuse or neglect, call the Police, or Child, Youth and Family.

• If you are concerned that a friend or family member is in an abusive relationship, you can visit www.womensrefuge.org.nz for information on what to look for, how to make a safety plan and how to provide help

• It’s ok to help or to ask for help. Women’s Refuge services are confidential and non-judgmental. You don’t have to come into the safe house. We can talk over the phone, or meet you somewhere that is safe and comfortable for you.

ENDS

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