Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Family violence: No one is immune

New Zealand has the worst rate of family and intimate-partner violence in the world. Eighty per cent of incidents go unreported — so what we know of family violence in our community is barely the tip of the iceberg. Today is part four of We’re Better Than This, a week-long series on family violence. Our aim is to raise awareness, to educate, to give an insight into the victims and perpetrators. We want to encourage victims to have the strength to speak out, and abusers the courage to change their behaviour.

No one is immune to family violence. It happens in the poorest of homes and the richest. Among the victims are our most educated people, and our most vulnerable. They are young and old. They are from all ethnicities.

The term family violence encompasses intimate partner violence, child abuse, elderly abuse and the abuse of disabled people within families. By far the most significant of all family violence is men abusing women.

SPEAK UP: SHARE YOUR STORY HERE

According to a Ministry of Justice document supporting a review into current family violence legislation some New Zealanders' characteristics, socio-economic status or environments may increase the risk, incidence and severity of family violence.

"Gender is a significant risk factor for victimisation and harm across all forms of family violence. The substantial majority of intimate partner violence involving coercive control occurs against women.

Young women are particularly vulnerable, and the risk of victimisation is increased further when young women have children," the document revealed.

READ MORE - THE VICTIMS:
'Please don't let me die today'
'He held a chainsaw to my neck'
Why won't she leave?
'I didn't think about it as domestic abuse'
'Abuse is tiring'

"Female victims are far more likely to report experiencing severe harm as a result of intimate partner violence, and report being significantly affected at twice the rate of male victims (and) women who live with gangs are at greater risk of more frequent and severe violence."

According to the report Maori are "disproportionately represented" both in the victim and perpetrator statistics. Maori women are twice as likely as other women
to experience family violence.

"The rates per year of Maori victims and offenders in intimate partner violence, and child abuse and neglect homicides were significantly higher than those of non-Maori," the document stated.

Pacific Island and ethnic migrant communities also experience higher rates of family violence .

"These groups can face distinct socio-economic, cultural and practical barriers that may make it more difficult to seek help," the Ministry document explained.

"For example, migrants may feel trapped in abusive relationships by cultural expectations, if their residency status is connected to their spouse, or if they face language barriers. Victims from migrant families may also lack access to finances and be isolated from the community.

"While the majority of victims are women - we cannot forget about the men who suffer abuse at the hands of a partner or ex. We, along with the authorities and experts acknowledge that women often perpetrate violence towards their partners or ex."

In the four years from 2009 to 2012, 24 per cent of intimate partner violence-related deaths were perpetrated by women. But the more serious issue is violence against women.

• In tomorrow's Herald: The perpetrators. Why do men hurt their partners? What drives their violence and what does it take to change?

1 in 3 Be Free

Last week the Auckland Inner City Women's Group launched a new app called 1 in 3 Be Free, aiming to help can help women of all ages learn more about the intimate partner violence.

Q. What is the purpose of the app?
A. It is an educational tool designed to help women screen for abuse in their relationship, educate them on the different types of abuse and connect them with support services in their region of New Zealand - should they require it.

Q. What does the app do?
A. Users begin by taking a quiz that asks a series of questions about their current relationship or a relationship they are in process of leaving. Once the quiz is completed, different types of abuse are highlighted based on the user's answers. The user has the opportunity here to select highlighted areas and learn more about the indicators of each type of abuse.

Q. What happens next?
A. After completing the quiz the user is connected to a list of credible support services and crisis numbers in their region of New Zealand, which they can access depending on their level of concern about their relationship. The app has built in safety features to protect the user.

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you
• Run outside and head for where there are other people
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you
• Take the children with you
• Don't stop to get anything else
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisisline operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisisline 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz

How to hide your visit

If you are reading this information on the Herald website and you're worried that someone using the same computer will find out what you've been looking at, you can follow the steps at the link here to hide your visit. Each of the websites above also have a section that outlines this process.

Take a stand - NZ is #BetterThanThis

New Zealand has the worst rate of family violence in the developed world. One in three women will be subjected to physical or sexual violence from a partner at some point in their lives.

Take a stand. Change your social media profile picture to demand that we are better than this. Right-click on this image below (or press and hold on your mobile device) to save, then upload to your social profiles. Or you can download the image here.

- NZ Herald

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