Holiday violence strains shelters

By Carmen Hall

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Women and children in the Bay are being taken to safe houses outside the region to escape domestic violence over the holiday period.

Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust director Tommy Wilson said they had transported a client hundreds of kilometres out of the region to the "closest women's refuge that isn't full up and overflowing".

Staff had been called in during their time off to cope with demand and he was calling for people "to start stepping up and taking care of our own backyard".

"When you work in this game you watch heartbreak on a daily basis and women come in here with sunglasses on because they have had the bash."

The men often got drunk or wasted over the silly season "and take out their inadequacies on their partners", he said.

About two months ago the trust had to go into lock-down because an abusive man showed up on their doorstep, he said.

"I can't put my staff in jeopardy so the sooner I get the women shipped out to safety the better."

Mr Wilson said emergency housing was an issue in the city.

"What do we do with these people that are in desperate need, put them back on the street?"

The service knew of people living in horse floats, he said.

"Tauranga does not need to go down this track because we have wonderful organisations that can pull together and get it right."

Tauranga Women's Refuge had a crisis worker on and was unavailable for comment but its data showed it answered 1872 crisis calls and housed 158 women and children in their safe house to December 23, 2015.

Shakti also had a safe house in the city and was taking crisis calls over the holiday period.

Tauranga Living Without Violence manager Mary Beresford-Jones said family violence increased over the holidays and January was a high-pressure month. "That is when the bills come in and people start to realise they are broke or don't have enough money for food."

Those living in fear or experiencing violence needed to seek help which was also available if, "you are a man who abuses your family".

Meanwhile, the women's refuge in Rotorua was only able to take high-risk cases over the holidays and had asked a refuge out of the region to take one of its clients.

A Women's Refuge Waiariki advocate said limited housing meant it could not take everybody.

"At the moment we are only looking at those that are very high-risk."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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