Domestic violence on the up

By Amy McGillivray

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Western Bay police say there has been a spike in the number of family violence call-outs since the start of the festive season.

Tauranga Senior Sergeant Carl Purcell said the increase in domestic violence around Christmas happened every year.

"A lot of it has just been a combination of the time of year and alcohol and the pressure you have when it comes to this time of year."

The outbursts of violence police were called to deal with were often the result of family and financial pressures, Mr Purcell said

People could play their part by looking out for the well-being of loved ones, he said.

Statistics show on average New Zealand police are called to a family violence situation every six minutes but it has been estimated only about 20 per cent of incidents are reported.

Police recorded 107,602 family violence incidents and offences in the 2010/11 financial year 58 per cent of all reported violent crime in New Zealand.

There were 41 family violence homicides throughout the country in that same period.

Tauranga Women's Refuge senior practitioner Sheryll Fougere said she expected it to get busier after Christmas.

"What happens for us is that women often stay at their family homes over Christmas while the violence is happening as they don't want to disrupt the children's Christmas but they come to us after."

Having other family members around the house and the desire to provide their children with an enjoyable and memorable Christmas was often enough to discourage women from seeking help until after the festivities, she said.

It was not just the time of year causing an increase in violence, Ms Fougere said.

"Certainly the violence and stress levels around violence have increased.

"The impact of policies that the government has been implementing on various levels has been impacting on families."

Ms Fougere said recent social welfare and family court reforms were contributing to the higher level of violence being seen by the refuge.

The volume of women asking for help was increasing as was the severity of the cases.

It was no longer just violence that needed to be dealt with but a range of other pressures and issues. Women spoken to recently were in such a state of despair they needed a multi-level response.

Ms Fougere said the recent government policy changes were making it harder for families to get the traction they needed to get back on their feet.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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