Domestic violence has not only increased this year - the brutality of attacks and severity of injuries is significantly worse, say victim advocates.
A huge and continuing rise in calls for help and reports of strangulation becoming "commonplace" are causing huge concern as support service staff scramble to make sure each victim gets the help they need.
National specialist domestic violence service provider Shine says since the first Covid-19 lockdown referrals have rapidly increased.
And women are reporting incidents of strangulation four or five times a day at least.
"We are not use seeing more violence, but more brutal violence, sexual violence, stabbings, strangulations," said Shine acting general manager Sally Ward.
"Other services have struck a similar pattern to us - an increase in the number of women coming to us for help, and increase in the levels of violence being used against them."
Advocate team manager Debbs Murray said the severity of the violence was the worst she'd seen in her almost 18 years on the frontline.
She said even the sexual violence was becoming more brutal - with women being more severely beaten and strangled alongside being raped and violated.
"The hospital referrals coming to us are really badly beaten and presenting with very serious injuries," she explained.
Ward said the numbers did not drop away after the level 4 lockdown, rather they had continued to rise.
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Currently Shine is getting at least double the referrals they would normally expect to see, rising from 20-25 per week to 50-55 referrals for serious family violence.
"All the Shine refuges are full and have been for months, and the overruns are going into motel or hotel accommodation," Ward said.
Referrals come to Shine from police, hospitals, their crisis line and partner agencies, from the victims themselves or concerned family, friends or neighbours.
"We've got incredibly dedicated staff, but we are dealing with really huge numbers of referrals and it's concerning," Murray said.
"We are certainly working beyond our capacity which is a concern - and long-term that is not sustainable."
Murray said the level of violence the teams were confronted with was "horrific".
"I've been in the sector for almost 18 years now and it's definitely some of the worst I've seen," she said.
"I've seen a lot of pretty horrendous violence, but it's just continuing, it's not stopping - every single day women are being strangled, they are being badly beaten, we're not just talking about low level abuse, coercive control or entrapment, we're seeing very very serious injuries."
Murray said the level 4 and second level 3 lockdowns were not solely to blame.
"Primary victims all experience some level of entrapment through the coercive control that is perpetrated by predominant aggressors," she told the Herald
"When you compound that dynamic with a layer of physical restriction due to lockdown, our clients then experience all forms of entrapment, physical, sexual, emotional and psychological – their worlds become very small and there is limited ability to manoeuvre into safe spaces.
"The aggressor is so dominant that he prevents the primary victim from seeing all family and or friends or doing anything independently."
New Zealand has the worst rate of family and intimate-partner violence in the world.
Eighty per cent of incidents go unreported — so what we know of family violence in our community is barely the tip of the iceberg.
Ward said it was difficult to narrow the cause down to one factor.
A lot of women already had a partner who was already violent or abusive, and someone they didn't particularly like and were afraid of.
"When you go into lockdown … there are no opportunities for a break," she said.
"Alcohol and drugs can contribute to a huge extent, and people have lost their jobs, there is a lot of frustration for them."
Ward said Shine staff were working very long hours and weekends to keep up with this increase in demand - and would continue to be there for women in need.
"Our work is currently overflowing out of work hours to keep up with the influx of referrals into Shine," she explained.
Murray urged Kiwis to do their part to help.
"There is a social responsibility for the whole community - if you see something, report it," she said.
"If you see something happening you stand up and have a voice - be the voice that these people are often unable to have on their own.
Ward added: "Domestic violence is often seen to be people's personal business - but it's not, it's the responsibility of everyone in the community.
"Hanging around when your neighbour is screaming for her life is not doing your bit."
She said it was "vital" that Shine staff could continue to help women and any donations of things that could help women escaping violence were appreciated.
Shine "desperately" needed funding for more advocates to cover the weekend demand and "dignity enhancing products" .
"Women and children leave with absolutely nothing, and they need underwear, toothbrushes and toothpaste, toiletries, moisturiser, clothing for the kids, plus phones for communication," said Ward.
"And we need your money, we're very grateful for that - every cent is spent on the women who need help."
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - DO YOU NEED HELP?
If you're in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of 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
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