Unfortunately, it's not news to any of us that the track record of domestic violence in this country is appalling.

A Ministry of Justice document released just this month indicates New Zealand has one of the highest reported rates of intimate partner violence in the developed world.

Read more:
Most violence is committed by someone you know - report

Last year police attended over 100,000 family violence incidents. On average, a family member will kill 14 women, seven men and eight children in New Zealand every year. And those are just the reported statistics.


What about same-sex intimate partner violence? Location-specific stats are hard to come by, however according to recent research by Dr Ian Cranstoun at Charles Sturt University, the incidence of violence in the NZ gay community mirrors that in the heterosexual community - but is grossly underreported.

In all its complex parts - physical, psychological, sexual, emotional, and economic - abuse carries with it dire and dangerous consequences for the individuals impacted, as well as for New Zealand as a whole.

Gradually, however, the legislative response to domestic violence is building. No longer is violence in the domestic sphere shrugged off as "just a domestic", as it was only a few decades ago.

Abuse is possible anywhere - in any neighbourhood, any town, and any socio-economic bracket. It's often emotional rather than physical, too. And just because you're educated or wealthy or think you're 'smarter than that' doesn't mean you're not in an abusive relationship or at risk. So learn the warning signals and be honest with yourself and your loved ones.

Here's what you should be watching out for

1. The blame game

Every discussion turns into a serious battle about who is right and who is wrong. Every thing and every body (else) is to blame, from work relationships to drivers on the road to problems at home. Even the slightest disagreement is often perceived as an attack. Tolerance for difference is very low, including expressions of your own independent thought or desires.

2. Jealousy
Does your partner want to know everything about your past relationships, your current friendships, and your text messages? Is he or she controlling about where you go and who you meet, competitive with your family members and your friends who also want your time? Is he/she uncomfortable when others find you attractive, or when you dress up to feel attractive? Are your successes met with moodiness or only grudging praise?

3. Track record
How does your partner discuss his or her own past relationships? Does he or she denigrate ex-partners? Does he describe them in bitter terms or as 'crazy'? Is he holding onto anger and resentment from the past?


4. Self-entitlement
Abusive personalities work on an assumption of their own rights, not yours. Or your needs, for that matter. If it's beginning to feel too hard to assert your own needs, and easier to just give in, a coercive pattern is likely to be in play and unlikely to reverse itself. Small issues become larger and you find "keeping the peace" becomes a way of life.

5. Eggshells
Do you feel afraid of angry outbursts or days of silent treatment? Are you fearful your partner will be unkind to the children, your mother, or the dog? Do you find yourself walking on eggshells and anxious in case of any upset, unsure what will set him or her off?

6. Anger
As above, if a very short fuse is a feature of your life together, it's a bad sign that something is amiss. Does your partner also throw things, slam doors, or hurt animals? Does he or she use drugs and alcohol to self medicate?

7. Withholding
Does your partner prohibit you from using the car, or money, or refuse to help with chores and/or the children? Are you rewarded and punished via resources? Are promises often broken?

A final word: The cost of domestic violence is huge. Its tentacles can trigger death, disability, chronic health problems, mental illness, homelessness, unemployment, and addiction. Not to mention play havoc with the health and wellbeing of your children. It can all feel too hard, but getting help is not.

Where to get help
Anyone with concerns about relationships with family or acquaintances should contact local police, or;
• Phone the Women's Refuge Crisisline: 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843
• Speak to someone you trust
• If you have concerns for your safety - or someone else's - call 111 immediately.