The Hastings Women's Refuge is preparing for an influx of women and families an an expected increase in domestic violence rates in the Covid-19 lockdown.

Hastings Women's Refuge operations manager Megan Thomassen-Clarke said it was a difficult time for the refuge, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern moved the country from a level 3 alert to level 4.

Thomassen-Clarke said those at imminent risk of violence were allowed to break the lockdown. Anyone coming into a safe house would have to stay the full four weeks of the lockdown.

"As expected our safe houses are filling up but we still have room. We anticipate domestic violence levels to rise and have put plans in place to cater to the needs of the women and children," Thomassen-Clarke said.

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"We are following the guidelines set by the Government."

"We are asking men to do the right thing and seek help before violence becomes the solution."

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Thomassen-Clarke said people fearing domestic violence needed to call Women's Refuge who would be able to find possible solutions.

"Ring us and we will refer and in the first instance we will speak to them and provide solutions and or ideas," she said.

"We are also asking people to be vigilant and to look out for and after their neighbours. If they hear something that requires police to attend, then call them."

She said unless it was absolutely necessary, the staff would not be meeting face to face.

"The exception to this is when a woman and her children are taken into the safe house. Essentially we are business as usual with some differences."

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She reiterated that any type of violence was not okay.

"If you are in a situation where you are a victim or know a victim, give us a call," she said.

"Or if you want to discuss a safety plan, give us a ring. It's not okay."

Hastings Women's Refuge is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting families to live violence-free.

It provides confidential services that are tailored to needs.


DO YOU NEED HELP?
If you're in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours or 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
• Call the Crisis Support Line 24/7 at 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843)
or 06 870 6024

Where to go for help or more information:
• Shine, free national helpline 9am-11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz

‌• Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website