Family violence: New Zealanders speak out

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 the final day 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.

This week on nzherald.co.nz we launched a We're Better Than This campaign video featuring well known New Zealanders.

The video was part of our week-long series about family violence and featured broadcasters Judy Bailey and Toni Street, Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Police Minister Judith Collins, Labour Leader Andrew Little, Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman, champion boxer Joseph Parker, Shortland Street actor Pua Magasiva and his Flava Breakfast co-host Sela Alo, The Hits co-host Stacey Morrison, lawyer Mai Chen, television personality Erin Simpson and Michael Boggs, the chief executive of NZME, publisher of the Herald.

A number of high profile Kiwis also shared personal written messages about family violence.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush

The number of women and children who continue to experience violence in New Zealand is unacceptable. On average police respond to a family violence incident every 5 minutes.

In over 60% of family violence related police investigations, children are witnessing family violence. The tragic reality is that these children grow up learning that it's okay to hurt other people or let other people hurt them.

Police are committed to prevention and early intervention to break this heartbreaking cycle; however, this requires a whole of community effort. We know that most men are not violent. But the vast majority of acts of violence against women are perpetrated by men. We need to create a culture where violence against women is never trivialised or encouraged - and that means we all have a role to play in changing society's attitudes.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of violence, talk to police or someone who can help.

Police MInister Judith Collins

Police attend 100,000 Family Violence events per year, that's almost 300 every single day. It accounts for a staggering 41 per cent of frontline Police response time.

It's an epidemic and there is no point pretending otherwise.

It is terrifying for all who are affected by it especially children.

Every single child deserves to feel safe at home. But too many children in New Zealand are growing up in homes where violence is the norm.

They're the ones who Police find hanging around parks and bus stops late at night because it's preferable to being at home.

These kids are seeing things that no child should have to witness, like the brothers who saw Police taser their father because that was the only way to stop him punching their mother in the head.

Chances are those brothers will themselves become perpetrators of family violence. It's a tragedy and as a country we need to stand up against it.

SPEAK UP: SHARE YOUR STORY HERE

Labour Leader Andrew Little

I witnessed the devastating and lifelong impact of domestic and sexual violence first-hand about 20 years ago when I represented a sexual abuse victim as a young lawyer in Wellington. The case ended up in mediation. When my client's perpetrator entered the room, she recoiled and instinctively curled up into a foetal position. Even after he'd left the room, she was inconsolable for an hour.

If we want to reduce the shockingly high levels of domestic and sexual violence in our country men will have to an active role - it is, after all, carried out by men. It's not about men taking responsibility for the violence of other men. It's that men have a better chance at convincing other men that violence is never the answer and will never solve their problems.

Our justice system and other social agencies have to protect women who stand up to violence, not revictimise them through lengthy, repetitive and often painful processes.
And in protecting the victims, our justice system mustn't deny defendants their rights to natural justice.

Filthy Rich actor Alex Tarrant

"I was in intermediate. I had a black eye. I told my teacher that I fell down our stairs at home. We had no stairs. Although experiences like this don't define who I am today, it shaped my social life at school. I had a need to be someone I wasn't, like a defence mechanism. Ironically maybe that's why I'm an actor. Domestic abusers aren't gender or age specific. But the destruction is still the same. I feel that we as a society have a 'someone else will help' type mentality with a lot of things. From passing someone with a flat tire, to contemplating wither on not find where a scream is coming from. Teaching our young people to show small feats of compassion through our example will grow a generation that won't wait for someone else to do something."

Shortland Street actor Jarod Rawiri

"I think we, as people with a public profile and presence in the social sphere have a responsibility to stand for social issues such as domestic violence. It's an important topic to talk about. Every year, thousands of adults and children are victims of domestic abuse. And quite often we don't hear about these stories in mainstream media until it's too late. Being an actor on a popular program like Shortland Street gives you a platform to talk to a mass audience and raise awareness of a social issues. It allows us to help make a difference in the community. It is really important to raise awareness on the topic and get the conversation started within the community.

Filthy Rich actor Cristina Ionda

"We should stand up against family violence and see our society as an extended family that cares and reacts to protect 'family members' that can't do it for themselves. Any type of domestic violence is wrong and damaging for humanity. Raising our voices against such bad behavior is hugely beneficial and shows our solidarity against primitive behavior. Our empathy counts in building trust towards a better society. Our world is a better place without domestic violence and we can make this 'dream' come true. Abuse is not acceptable and has no justification. Children witness domestic violence every year and suffer psychological damage. It is their future that we need to safeguard."

Westside actor Sophie Hambleton

"We need to stand up against family violence because NO ONE deserves to live their life full of fear. We must show the utmost respect for each other and each other's safety. Valuing the lives of each and every member of our society is paramount. The more we ALL talk about this issue the more we can do to support victims to speak up and receive the support they need."

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

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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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