One Christchurch Women's Refuge safe house open

Photo / Sarah Ivey
Photo / Sarah Ivey

Only West Christchurch Women's Refuge safe house - of a possible five safe houses in the city - is open at the moment to provide shelter and support services to women and children following last week's deadly earthquake, Women's Refuge says.

But it is expected Christchurch Women's Refuge will open tomorrow and others will open as soon as possible after their damage has been assessed.

Police have reported an increase in family violence since last week's quake and Women's Refuge chief executive Heather Henare said families needed to be careful with the way they dealt with stress and relationships.

"Disasters do not turn healthy relationships abusive," she said.

"Rather, a person who may already be, or likely to be, violent is catalysed by the kind of stress in a disaster. Those prone to controlling things excessively are likely to intensify their control in times like these,' she warned.

Women's Refuge have had qualified advocates in Christchurch since Thursday to provide back up support for the added pressure disaster stress puts on families and refuge centres.

Following last September's earthquake there was a 53 per cent increase in domestic violence incidents reported to the police in the 30 days after, and refuge statistics increased by 30 per cent, she said.

Similarly, Relationship Services Whakawhanaungatanga echoed Women's Refuge call that family violence during times of stress was not okay.

"The levels of stress Christchurch families are facing are enormous," Whakawhanaungatanga national practice manager JoAnn Vivian said.

"No matter how frustrated or angry you are, hurting yourself or others will make matters worse."

- NZPA

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