Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: United front against abuse

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Amy Wiggins.
Amy Wiggins.

Today is the second day of a week-long series looking at the issue of family violence in New Zealand.

The figures are shocking.

Police attended 105,000 family violence incidents in New Zealand last year. On average, they took a call for help every five minutes - 279 each day in total.

One in three Kiwi women are said to have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lives.

That is a frightening thought.

How many of the women I know have suffered through that sort of abuse and simply put on a brave face?

No one should be unsafe in their homes.

No one has the right to hurt their loved ones, for any reason.

It's hard to imagine how relationships get that bad, but one thing is certain - we need to do something to protect those who are victims of family violence.

It's heartening to hear that Justice Minister Amy Adams is leading a comprehensive Government cross-agency review of family violence laws in a bid to tackle the problem, but surely as a community we can be doing something to help.

We need to be educating our children to try to stop the vicious cycle that is far too prevalent in our country.

It's a sad reality that some people know nothing other than abusive relationships.

Perhaps we need to be putting aside time in schools to teach kids about healthy relationships and how to spot the early signs of danger in an attempt to save future generations from suffering the horrors of family violence.

But is that enough to make a difference?

I'm not sure that it is.

We all need to be on the lookout for signs of abuse and encourage victims to take action - be that calling the police or seeking support from social services or the Women's Refuge.

We need to help the perpetrators to realise what they are doing is wrong and encourage them to seek help.

It may sound cliche, but if we are ever going to see a change it is going to take whole families and whole communities banding together.

It's not something we can ignore any longer.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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