Wairarapa police get 1000 domestic violence calls

By Teuila Fuatai

More than 1000 domestic-violence reports were made to Wairarapa police in the year ended June 30 - about 19 a week - although that was fewer than in other years.

New Zealand has a shameful domestic-violence record, with thousands of women abused by their partners.

Figures given to the Wairarapa Times-Age confirmed 1009 such incidents were reported in Wairarapa in the year to the end of June.

Wairarapa police family-violence co-ordinator Detective Sergeant Tony Heathcote said such incidents made up a significant part of police work and were of particular concern.

"It's a problem but we're happy that it's been steadily declining over the last few years," he said.

"We see any family violence as a problem because we appreciate the damage that it does within families in terms of victimisation.

"A significant amount of harm is done to families because of it."

Mr Heathcote said the decline could be attributed to the networks in the region which supported families dealing with violence, as well as better attendance to incidents by police.

Although not all cases were reported, he said it was accepted there had been a decrease in incidents and not just in the number of cases reported.

Wairarapa Violence Free Network co-ordinator Gerry Brooking said there had been a decline in family violence in Wairarapa since 2009, although there was still a long way to go with the problem.

She said more people were seeking help with community-based organisations before things escalated out of control.

"They're seeking help rather than having professionals ... having to go in there in a government-enforced way."

Ms Brooking said it was generally accepted about 20 per cent of incidents were reported to police and this number had dropped in the last 10 years.

Wairarapa Women's Centre co-ordinator Yvonne Davy said domestic violence was a huge problem, locally and nationwide.

"Domestic violence takes all forms - there's emotional, spiritual as well as physical," she said

The women's centre runs programmes year-round aimed at building confidence for women.

Addressing domestic violence was about breaking the cycle - for men and women, Ms Davy said.

People had to ask themselves whether they wanted their children to learn "this behaviour" and pass it on to their families.

Nationally, close to 90,000 domestic-violence incidents were reported in the past year - a total of more than 240 a day.

A similar number of calls were made to the Women's Refuge hotline during the same period - with nearly 86,000 crisis calls received.

Twenty-three family-violence deaths were investigated by police.


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