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.

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.

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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.