A Northland mother-of-two subjected to a torrent of physical abuse by her partner has called on the judiciary to treat cases of domestic violence seriously by imposing stiffer sentences.
The woman, who the Northern Advocate will identify as Sandra, said some people languishing in prison should not be there, while men who beat women and children were often given a second chance by the justice system.
Her comments followed revelation by Statistics New Zealand that victims knew their attackers in nearly three-quarters of violent crimes committed in Northland. Police data published by Statistics NZ shows victims knew offenders in 74 per cent of the 105 acts intended to cause injury in the Northland Police District during June this year.
In 39 cases, the victim and offender were family. Nationwide, 69 per cent of offenders in the 2313 acts intended to cause injury in June were known to their victims and in 44 per cent of cases the offenders and victims were family.
The family links between victims and offenders in Northland are higher than the national average for such acts.
The victim also knew their offender in Northland's two homicide and related offences this June, and in one case the victim and the offender were family.
In three of Northland's 45 burglaries in the month, the offender and victim were family. Sandra entered into her first relationship with a man in Whangarei which lasted less than one year.
"In the time we were together, he attacked me with a screwdriver, tried to break my neck, smashed my head against a steel pipe, and sold my belongings.
"I lost my family and a tooth because of him. If it was not physical, it was mental. There were instances where he would literally kick me out of the bed," she said.
Their relationship ended after she ran to a St John ambulance base for help after being attacked with a screwdriver.
She took out a protection order against the man and has since moved out of Whangarei.
"I don't think the justice system is fair to victims like me. There are crimes out there like domestic violence and penalties are laughable, while there are people in jail who should not have been sent to prison in the first place," she said.
Northland police victim and family violence manager Senior Sergeant Maria Nordstrom said the district had increased its focus on domestic violence, with two family violence co-ordinators.
Police have also introduced a new role of district victims prevention co-ordinator, who worked with partner agencies to lead and support a co-ordinated agency response to family violence.
"The district has increased its urgency and accountability around family violence ... with all incidents reviewed daily by the family violence co-ordinators," said Ms Nordstrom.
In February, Northland police introduced a daily multi-agency family violence triage, aimed at reducing family violence. The agencies included police, Child, Youth and Family, Northland Health, and Corrections. The system had been operating in Whangarei and was now being moved into the Far North.
She said anyone with concerns about their relationships with family or acquaintances could contact police, Women's Refuge or speak to someone they trusted. If they had concerns for their safety, they should call 111 immediately.