Police urge violence prevention
Northland families at high risk of domestic violence during the festive season are being urged to implement "safety plans" to help prevent abuse.
Police victim and family violence manager Senior Sergeant Maria Nordstrom said 41 families had been identified in Northland as high risk and now had safety plans in place.
Police and Women's Refuge say the safety plans are useful for anybody who could become a victim of domestic violence and want other families to contact them if they need help putting a plan in place.
Mrs Nordstrom said the increase in domestic abuse during the Christmas period might be due to added financial stress, an increase in alcohol consumption, difficult relationship dynamics with extended family, decisions around where and how to spend the holidays, and access to children for separated parents.
"If there are families that are at potential risk, they need to reach out for support and police, along with other agencies, can help put strategies in place.
It's about front-footing it and not becoming a victim."
Mrs Nordstrom urged people to report cases of family violence and said police believed only 20 per cent of domestic violence cases were reported.
"We need neighbours, friends and other family members to report it to us because then we check safety. We can decide what happens from there.
"Early intervention is the best and the best result is when we can get in there and support them and get other agencies involved." The families, who had been identified over the past six months, were given strategies to help cope with the pressures of the festive season and beyond.
Predominant areas of domestic violence in Northland were Whangarei and Kaitaia, she said.
Woman and children in crisis situations have sought help already at safe houses in Whangarei.
Whangarei's Tryphina House Women's Refuge Jodie Harris said from November to December was the busiest time of the year. The year had seen 189 women and children seek help at the safe houses in Whangarei, while 783 had been helped in the community.
Ms Harris said every family dealt with was given a specific plan.
"We have a look to see what else is happening to create more comprehensive support which could be housing, finances or referral to specialists like anger management.
"We will always make sure women and children have a safe place to stay, even if our houses are full we will provide a safe place for them."
Meanwhile, high profile sports star and television celebrity, former Northlander Awen Guttenbeil is encouraging families to enjoy an alcohol free Christmas day.
"Family violence increases over the holiday period, and research tells us that drugs and alcohol are major contributing factors in cases of family violence, child abuse and child homicides," Mr Guttenbeil said.
Where to find help
With Christmas just around the corner and people under
stress, there are many agencies throughout the region
just a phone call away.
In the case of an emergency call police on 111
Women's Refuge: 0800733843 Tryphina House 09
4376576 Te Puna O Te Aroha (Maori Women's Refuge) 09
Rape Crisis: 09 4386221
Youthline: 0800 376 633 text 234 or email
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757
Alcoholics Anonymous: (freephone) 0508 229 675 (AA
Parent Help: (freephone) 0800 568 856