Police, social workers and a former abuser are warning against the stress that comes along with the festive season, saying Christmas is the worst time of year for family harm.
One social worker says women often arrive at the Tauranga Women's Refuge safe house from the hospital with broken limbs and missing hair.
And it is expected to get worse this summer.
There were 444 family harm investigations in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty in December last year, followed by 488 in January this year.
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This was nearly 100 more investigations than the months before and after the December to January period.
"A lot of them are coming [to Tauranga Women's Refuge] via the hospital after they've gone to A&E," said social worker Maree Saunders, who had worked at the refuge for 15 years.
"We're still seeing them where they're dragged, their hair's pulled, they've got hair missing where it's been yanked out. We're still getting broken limbs ... we're still seeing an increase in violence."
Christmas day was usually quiet for the Tauranga Women's Refuge.
"Whānau get together and they'll watch to make sure that there's none of that behaviour... and even some of the abusers will make it a good day for their children," Saunders said.
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But the time before and after December 25 was busy.
"It's always huge no matter what... it's definitely got a lot worse."
Saunders said alcohol was a factor around the festive season, as well as an increase in methamphetamine use and financial pressures, which she linked to the surge in violence.
There was also a noticeable increase in family violence if Work and Income NZ paid out early, she said.
"The arguing and fighting start because the money has been spent to give their kids a good Christmas.
"The psychological and emotional abuse has been horrific, it's been a huge increase. We see it in the women and the children, it's embedded."
"Sunglasses Sunday" was what Tē Tuinga Whānau Support Services Trust director Tommy Wilson said happened throughout the year, especially over summer.
"After the weekends, the wives who all get the bash come to us with sunglasses on because their eyes are black," he said.
Wilson said a spike in violence was a natural occurrence every Christmas.
"There's always an aura of desperation as we get closer to Christmas, mothers mainly, realise they're not going to be able to make Christmas happen."
The frustration builds, finances strain and pressure from all other areas of life amplify, he said.
"For families that can just pay for rent; buying presents or Christmas lunch is not even on the cards."
A recovering abuser said Christmas was stressful.
The man, a recovering drug and alcohol addict, said substances heightened emotions, words are said, "and one thing led to another and you do something you regret doing".
He had recently been released from four months in prison on charges of threatening to kill his partner, and numerous driving and drink-driving charges.
He said he suffered from depression and it was an outburst of anger.
Earlier, he was charged with male assault female with a different partner. He paid a fine and did community service.
"When I get angry, I get pretty angry ... with my drinking, I'd go overboard and totally lose it."
He said an outburst was often followed by regret.
"Once it's done, I'd step back and think - ah ... what have you done?
"Just seeing them so upset, it guts you that you could actually do something like that and be that kind of person."
The man, who has been clean for four months, was getting help for his addictions and his anger through the Tē Tuinga Whānau Support Services.
"If you get the help, it's always fixable," he said.
Tū Kaha Tāne Mana Enrichment Programme co-ordinator Ngarongo Ormsby said the season spikes came back to the commercialisation of Christmas and the need for drugs and alcohol to celebrate.
Ormsby is a trained counsellor with more than 20 years' experience in family conflict resolution and he worked with men on understanding their behaviour and management and discipline, so to break the cycle of family harm.
He said families tried to meet an expectation or follow traditions of celebrations which led to spending money and binge drinking and drug use for days on end.
Bay of Plenty youth, community and family harm district manager Inspector Phil Gillbanks said spending long periods of time with people, tensions, alcohol, stress and financial pressures raised family harm incidents during the holiday season.
Throughout the year, drugs, alcohol and mental health fuelled the degree of violence, he said.
December's busiest family harm investigation days were Sundays to Tuesdays and Fridays, and January's busiest days were over the weekend.
But despite the summer surge, police resources remained the same on top of staff who wanted to take leave and the need for police at summer concerts, in liquor-ban areas and city centres with an influx in visitors to the region.
By the numbers
- 13,219 family investigations were carried out in the Bay of Plenty last year/
- Nearly 1000 more than the previous year
- About 483 more than in 2016
- 2213 cases went to court
- That is the highest number of family harm prosecutions of any region in the country
- Family harm offences, apprehensions and prosecutions are determined from police investigations or reports of family harm. Not all investigations lead to further action
Source: NZ Police