Women's Refuge says alternative accommodation is being found for women in crisis during lockdown as the organisation deals with an increase in the number of Northland women and their children needing emergency help.
New Zealand is in lockdown and on alert level 4 for a minimum of four weeks, meaning non-essential businesses such as cafes, gyms and many workplaces have closed.
People are urged to stay in their home unless they need food or medicine.
According to Shine and Women's Refuge, an unintended consequence for people living in abusive homes is that they might have to spend more time with their abuser - and thus be at heightened risk of further abuse.
A police spokesperson said it was still too soon for police to confirm any trends in regards to family harm incidents in Northland.
However, police were seeing relatively consistent levels of calls around family harm matters.
Jodie Harris, team leader for Women's Refuge Tryphina House, said the organisation was dealing with an influx of women needing help. While they were currently full with women and families who were in residence before lockdown, they would ensure others were safely housed so they could continue to self-isolate as a family unit or individuals.
Harris said there had been more women presenting with serious injuries over the last two weeks and it was evident alcohol was a contributing factor in most cases, although there were reports of methamphetamine also being used.
"We have seen more women than we normally would in a week. And we have encountered more women accessing our 0800 numbers for help and advice," Harris said.
The refuge had helped several women with ex-partners for the sake of the children, so they could isolate as a family.
"We have spoken to a number of couples who don't normally reside together and have run them through ways on how to de-escalate situations.
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"Some people will be suffering an increase in anxiety exacerbated by isolation. For some women, their normal safety plans will be different and will have to be adjusted."
Additional worries or conflict in the wake of the pandemic about jobs, finances, unwell or elderly family members, and childcare, may also heighten the risk of further or more severe abuse in these situations.
"We still advise people, if they are in danger, first and foremost call 111 for police," Harris said.
During lockdown, Harris said there had been referrals from police and self-referrals through the refuge crisis line.
"We are still doing face-to-face crisis calls and we are taking every precaution. For a non-urgent crisis, we are still supporting these women, usually by phone contact."
Former Police Commissioner Mike Bush, now on the special Covid-19 Select Committee, said police would increase their response to family harm and staff would also do more around prevention.
Police urged people to call 111 if they were concerned for themselves or others.
"It's everybody's responsibility to speak out and to keep each other safe. If you think something is not okay, say so," police said.
Canterbury University criminologist Greg Newbold said there had been a big jump in alcohol sales, and alcohol and violence were familiar partners.
As the days and weeks went by, there would be increasing tensions and "we would most likely see the domestic violence spikes which were often seen at Christmas".
If you can help the local refuge go to https://givealittle.co.nz/org/tryphina-house-whangarei-womens-refuge
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 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 09 437 6576
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