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

Family violence incidents increasing

The number of family violence incidents attended in New Zealand last year increased by more than 8000, according to new stats.

The Family Violence Clearinghouse annual data summaries, released to the public today, shows that in 2015 police investigated 110,114 family violence incidents - up from 101.981 in 2014 and 95,070 in 2013.

Of the incidents investigated last year, 35 per cent were at homes where police had previously visited for similar calls for help.

The FVC releases a series of data summaries each year around family violence - including child abuse and sexual violence, - which are a collation of statistics from government and non-government agencies and research studies.

That data, obtained by the Herald in advance, shows that in the majority of cases reported to police in 2015 women were the victim and the abuser was their male partner or ex.

From January to March this year 5862 assaults on women were reported to police and of those 1767 - 30 per cent - of victims were assaulted by their partner or ex partner.

In the same period last year 5547 assaults on women were recorded, with 1806 or 32 per cent by a partner or ex.

In May the Herald launched We're Better Than This - a week long series focussing on family violence.

The #betterthanthis campaign continues and our aim is to raise awareness around family violence by taking an in-depth look at the issues, the victims, perpetrators and solutions.

New Zealand has the worst rate of family violence in the developed world and each year it costs us up to $7 billion.

During the series police, Justice Minister Amy Adams and family violence advocates said there are two reasons for the rise in numbers - either more victims are coming forward or more people are being abused.

They said while the reason behind the increase, steady over the last decade, was not easy to pinpoint, what was clear was that something drastic needed to be done to address the problem. The increase shown in the FVC data summary was expected.

"It is by far our biggest crime type," police national prevention manager Superintendent Tusha Penny told the Herald during the initial #betterthanthis series.

"Family violence is a huge priority. Every five minutes, our staff on the front line are going to an incident that involves family harm. On average, that's 279 calls for help every day.

"We have a problem and that's been pretty well documented... Our goal in this country has got to be people go home, people are safe and the bogeyman's on the outside."

Justice Minister Amy Adams said the high rate of family violence in New Zealand is "unacceptable".

Adams is leading a comprehensive government cross-agency review of family violence laws in a bid to tackle the problem.

"We absolutely can and must do better," she told the Herald.

NUMBERS:

• In 2015 there were 110,114 family violence incidents investigated by police, compared with 101,981 in 2014 and 95,070 in 2013
• 35 per cent of investigations in 2015 were at homes known to police for family violence
• In the first three months of 2016, 5862 assaults on women were investigated. and of those, 1767 - 30 per cent - were assaulted by their partner or ex partner.

ONE IN THREE:

• The Family Violence Clearinghouse 2016 data summaries still show that one in three New Zealand women, 35.4 per cent, will report experiencing physical or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime
• When psychological and emotional abuse is included, the figure jumps to 55 per cent of Kiwi women
• In 2015 six women were killed by an intimate partner or ex. All of the offenders were men.

#BETTERTHANTHIS:

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.

We can, and must, do better than this New Zealand.

Victims - you deserve better.

Abusers - you need to be better.

And every one of us can do better when it comes to looking out for our friends, neighbours, colleagues and even strangers.


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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- NZ Herald

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