Savagery of domestic violence shocks those dealing with victims but New Zealanders ‘turning a blind eye'.

Body parts bitten off, maimed from severe burns and footprints left on their heads from being stomped on - experts believe the brutality of attacks on women by their male partners is worsening.

And those at the coal face of New Zealand's shameful family violence record are sending strong messages to the community to stop turning a blind eye.

New Zealand has the highest reported rate of intimate family violence in the developed world and this week, when sentencing a man for killing his wife, a High Court judge said communities "can't allow this to happen".

Mandeep Singh, 29, stabbed Parmita Rani to death the day after she left him. His sentencing came just weeks after Kiwi expat Tara Brown died in a brutal road rage attack on the Gold Coast.


Her partner Lionel Patea - also a New Zealander whom she had left a week before - has been charged with her murder.

But there are thousands more women who don't die, says Mary McGee, a senior advocate at national domestic abuse charity Shine.

Mrs McGee worked as a counsellor for a decade and as a Family Court co-ordinator in the late 1980s where the sheer number of protection orders passing through her hands prompted her to begin working with victims.

"The savagery of the violence is absolutely increasing, it is much more violent now than it was then."

In one day last week, there were 18 police callouts needing intervention from Shine staff - in two of those cases Mrs McGee said the women were close to death.

Shine spokeswoman Holly Carrington said 1500 women in Auckland alone had been given 24/7 monitored safety alarms since the devices were introduced in 2006.

"Some of the women have had their body parts bitten off or have been burnt badly or have had their heads stomped on, or dragged by their hair through the house."

Close to 500 submissions are being considered on the initiative led by Justice Minister Amy Adams that has gained unprecedented cross-party support.


"People I don't think are horrified enough by family violence - there is a lot of victim-blaming going on," said Mrs McGee.

"There is not the outrage that you would expect. This is an absolute national disgrace."

University of Waikato psychology senior lecturer Dr Neville Robertson, who specialises in family violence, said not stepping in allowed the behaviour to worsen.

Violent men isolated their partners by cutting them off from family, friends and support networks; lowered women's self esteem to the point they questioned their own sanity, and used the threat of violence to keep this cycle turning, he said.

"There is a strong value on the privacy of the family and people don't want to interfere, they don't want to appear to be a busy body and that exactly works to the abuser's favour."

That notion is supported by Dame Tariana Turia.

The former Maori Party leader believes a whanau-centric approach is needed where services are wrapped around families before violence reaches a crisis point.

"People are too scared to come forward but if they thought they were coming forward to get help for these families they are more likely to do it."

Police Superintendent Tusha Penny, national prevention manager for child protection and sexual violence, said early intervention was important.

"It's very complex; some people think it is not to do with them, other people don't know what to do or don't want to make it worse."

Mother had years of living hell

Forced to the ground with a tool held to her throat, Anne thought her decade-long abusive relationship was going to end with her death. She thought the same thing a few years earlier when her husband strangled her until she blacked out, and she thought she would lose her child when he stabbed a knife into the pillow next to the infant's sleeping head.

Sometimes, he would lock her inside their house for days. He would check her phone and computer and become suspicious if she was 10 minutes late. Other times, they would be driving and he would punch her in the face.

One day she ran to a neighbour's house and called police. He went to prison where he sought rehabilitation and counselling and the couple reconciled after his release.

"I thought if I didn't give him a chance I wasn't being a nice human being," she said.

The first time he came back, he said, "Why did you ring the police? You will never do that again," and her life spiralled back into abuse.

Alienated from her friends and with no family in the country, Anne had no one to turn to.

One morning she called police and left forever. Anne and her children were housed in a Shine safe house until she moved to a new home where she had a 24-hour alarm. Now, her husband is allowed to see their children under supervision in a public place and Anne is starting training to become a counsellor.

Names and details changed to protect the victim's identity.

Family violence in NZ

• Highest reported rate of intimate partner violence in the developed world.

• Police attended more than 100,000 family violence incidents last year.

• Each year, 14 women, 7 men and 8 children are killed by a family member.

• Last year, CYF received 146,657 reports about care and protection of children.

How to get help

Immediate danger:

call 111

Shine: 0508 744 633

Family Violence Information: 0800 456 450

Women's Refuge: 0800 733 843

Are You OK: