Families at risk of violence need intervention before things turn tragic, Masterton people told Justice Minister Amy Adams at a meeting in Masterton Town Hall yesterday.
Ms Adams was at a public meeting on family violence, hosted by the National Party, in the Frank Cody Lounge.
The Government is reviewing the Domestic Violence Act and inviting public feedback on proposed changes.
At question time one woman said help was needed early, with "responses that enable people to make a change in their circumstances".
"Victims can be helped earlier, before they get black and blue - or dead," the woman said.
The woman said it "does take a village to raise a child - it takes hapu; it takes iwi ... we need to take those children out of there ..."
"If we're going to see a change we need to become more actively involved, and less afraid."
Another woman mentioned a lack of communication between agencies, where "dots aren't being connected".
She noted that in the region's "tragedies" where children had been killed by family members, this lack had been a factor, although the situation was improving.
Ms Adams had spoken about "alternative pathways" for people to seek help from social agencies.
Some people who "don't want to walk away from a relationship" or go through the courts, are "finding it almost impossible to get help," Ms Adams said.
"I'm looking at some sort of structured response and assistance, that isn't court ... to encourage people to get help way sooner, and stop it escalating."
Ms Adams spoke about ideas in the Government's Family Violence discussion document, launched last month.
These include providing new pathways to help, establishing a new set of family violence offences, changes in access to protective orders, and more focus on child protection in shared custody arrangements where there has been family violence.