Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Special report: Tauranga refuge seeing more extreme violence

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ALARMED: Tauranga's Women Refuge manager Angela Warren Clark. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
ALARMED: Tauranga's Women Refuge manager Angela Warren Clark. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK

Bound, gagged and thrown into the boot of a car.

Kidnapped and having their lives threatened.

Beaten close to death.

These are just three examples of an escalation in shocking P-fueled domestic violence against women in the Tauranga region, and support agencies say they are alarmed.

The revelations come in the week Justice Minister Amy Adams announced new public services supporting measures aimed at revealing the scale and impact of family violence and the number of re-offenders.

Tauranga Women's Refuge manager Angela Warren-Clark welcomed the move and hoped the Government would pour more financial resources into tackling domestic violence.

"The brutality is mind-numbing, there doesn't appear to be any empathy for these women. Children can be present, other people can be present - it doesn't matter."
Tauranga Women's Refuge manager Angela Warren-Clark

In the past six months, the refuge had dealt with cases where women reported they had been bound, locked in the boot of a car, driven to a secluded beach or forest location and had been threatened with death.

"There is a steady increase of women being abducted, being tied up, put in the boot of cars, taken away to the bush or the beach, or their partners having utensils to bury them ...

"It seems a terror tactic, but we have to take it very seriously."

Read more: Woman escapes violent past with 'knowledge'

Mrs Warren-Clark said there was also a high rate of women being subjected to extreme violence after a partner had used methamphetamine.

"Beaten black and blue. Beaten to a point they can't run or get away.

"We have women tell us stories of having electric drills held to their eyes. Women who are subject to the most horrific sexual assault. Multiple rapes by multiple people as part of a punishment for their choice to leave. There is some very dark violence happening in our community - women who are being held captive and by the skin of their teeth they manage to get away.

"The brutality is mind-numbing, there doesn't appear to be any empathy for these women. Children can be present, other people can be present - it doesn't matter."

Mrs Warren-Clarke said the increase in violence came at a time when the refuge was struggling. "Financially we are in as much need as we have ever been."

The refuge used to be allocated clients who were most at risk of death weekly, now they were receiving referrals on a daily basis. "But I cannot pay my staff. We are allocated $185,000 a year from MSD. So far this year we have received 565 crisis calls, we are only paid for 320 a year."

Can you help the refuge, visit their Givealittle page.

Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust Social Services director Tommy Wilson said methamphetamine and domestic violence went hand-in-hand and had been a problem in the Bay of Plenty for about 15 years. He said in one case a man tried to kill his wife (both parties were on methamphetamine) after tying her up and putting her in the boot of his car.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board chief executive Helen Mason said there had been 123 presentations of methamphetamine use between July and December last year.

Tauranga Living Without Violence manager Mary Bedford-Jones said whenever P was involved in a case it always increased its risk and complexity.

A third of the men who came into the service would have addiction or abuse issues.

Mrs Bedford-Jones said their men's programmes were full.

Western Bay of Plenty area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton said there were normally between 80 to 90 domestic violence calls a week in the Bay. That was then broken down into no offences being disclosed, those where offending is identified, breaches of protection orders with some resulting in arrests and others being dealt with by partner agencies.

Mr Paxton acknowledged methamphetamine was an issue but alcohol was more prominent along with issues of unemployment, housing and financial concerns.

A Ministry of Social Development spokesperson said the National Collective supported 37 separate Women's Refuge groups around the country. The ministry funded Tauranga Women's Refuge $185,000 for 2014/15 financial year and have provided the same funding for 2015/16.

Where to find help:

Tauranga Women's Refuge, crisis line 541-1911 or 0800-867-33843
Shakti 0800-742-584
Tauranga Living Without Violence 577-9297
Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust 571-0875
It's Not OK helpline 0800-456-450
Shine 0508-744-633

- Bay of Plenty Times

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