Hawke's Bay domestic violence figures concerning

By Roger Moroney -
9 comments
Hastings Women's Refuge manager Julie Hart. Photo / Paul Taylor
Hastings Women's Refuge manager Julie Hart. Photo / Paul Taylor

In terms of domestic violence across the country the statistics are not good.

The statistics which encompass crime and injury associated with incidents of domestic violence clearly show it is a significant problem in New Zealand and it is one of the country's most serious social issues.

In the last staged region-by-region wrap of domestic violence over a five-year period, carried out by the Salvation Army's Mixed Fortunes programme, in terms of violence-related assaults in homes the eastern regions did not come out looking good.

Both Hawke's Bay and Northland were tagged in the report as having "much higher" than average rates of recorded violence in the home.

The word "recorded" is a strong one in this sense as it is accepted that a great number of assaults are likely to be going unreported, and therefore not recorded.

Which, when taken into account in the wake of what the recorded figures reveal, is concerning.

Over the five-year period of the latest wrap Hawke's Bay had an average of 1371 incidents a year - which equates to 88 per 10,000 people.

The national average worked out to be 58 per 10,000 people.

Research from a study carried out by Dr Janet Fanslow revealed that between 33 and 39 per cent of New Zealand women experience physical and sexual violence from a partner at some stage in their lifetime, with Dr Fanslow saying the most worrying aspect was that intimate partner violence, even if it occurred in the past, was "significantly" associated with present physical and mental health problems including depression, sleep problems and suicide attempts.

In legal terms, the Domestic Violence Act 1995 protects anyone in a domestic relationship from violence.

It covers a wide range of relationships and situations.

It was devised to protect married and unmarried couples, gay couples, children, families, anyone in a close relationship, flatmates - anyone who may share accommodation - from violence.

The national statistics are as frightening as the incidents themselves, as it is estimated that up to 80 per cent of incidents may be going unreported - so that in 2015, where police attended 105,000 domestic-related incident of violence across the country, the true figure (going by the 80 per cent figure) would be closer to 525,000.

That figure has been on the rise since 2013 when there were 95,101 cases reported, with 101,981 reported in 2014.

In terms of Hawke's Bay, if the not-reported figure of 80 per cent is taken into account it then equates to an average of about 6800 incidents a year.

In terms of regularity such incidents are, sadly, indeed regular.

Going by last year's figures police on average get 279 calls to a potential family violence incident somewhere in the country every day - that's one about every five-and-a-half minutes, and at 80 per cent of them there are likely to be children present.

The figures don't get any better - on average 13 women, 10 men and nine children die every year as a result of domestic violence, and in terms of the economic repercussions across the societal landscape family violence is estimated to cost the country between $4.1 billion and $7b each year.

The New Zealand Family Violence Clearing House points out that domestic violence is not limited to any particular demographic.

It can happen in rural and urban areas, within all ages, religions and ethnic groups and across all socio-economic groups.

The manager of Hastings Women's Refuge, Julie Hart, said there was effectively a positive side to a rise in statistics - "because that means people are reporting it and people are seeking help".

Over the past 35 years with the emergence of organisations such as Women's Refuge people have become more aware of where to go to for help - a door to knock on.

And initially the calls taken were generally just from the victim.

Now they receive calls from neighbours, friends, sports team-mates and employers - seeking advice about concerns people may have for someone they know.

Ms Hart said rather than an increased level of violence occurring it was more an increased level of reporting.

In terms of the violence there was no easy answer.

"It is based around human beings and human beings have a range of emotions."

Some incidents were sparked by housing issues and general poverty - as well as drugs and alcohol.

She said when synthetics were legalised there was a clear rise in domestic violence reports.

"And there is the growth in meth' use."

In cases of immediate danger people needed to call police immediately.

For information, assistance and advice "we can point people in the right direction".

The NZ family violence picture:

• Thirteen women, 10 men and nine children are killed every year as a result of family violence
• Disabled women are nearly twice as likely to be victims of violence
• Intimate partner violence deaths are perpetrated 75 per cent by men, 25 per cent by women
• One in seven young people report being harmed on purpose by an adult at home
• Half of all homicides are family violence related
• Up to 32,000 older people may be experiencing some form of elder abuse
• Half of all intimate-partner violence deaths occur at a time of actual or intended separation
• Twenty per cent of young girls and 9 per cent of young boys report unwanted sexual touching or being forced to do sexual things
• One in three women experience physical abuse and/or sexual abuse from a partner in their lifetime

Figures: areyouok.org.nz

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