Women's refuges are bursting at the seams as family pressures run at an all time high in the holiday season.

Jackie Clark, who runs refuge charity The Aunties, was struggling to find a place for four women. She had called numerous refuges around Auckland but all were full.

In the city there are over a dozen refuges housing around 100 women and children.

Women's Refuge spokeswoman Ruth MacIntyre-Bardell confirmed of the six refuges they run, all were at capacity.


She said coming out of Christmas was one of their busiest times of year.

"It's a high-pressure time of year. There are a lot of expectations as well, like going on holidays and bad weather means you're in close proximity with family.

"Children are out of school, alcohol is involved, there's pressure there. The usual social reasons. It's the pressure of Christmas."

Over 3000 women and children were in Women's Refuge care in the two months from December 2016 to January 2017. Figures have not yet been released for this year. New Zealand has the worst rate of family and intimate-partner violence in the world, with 80 per cent going unreported.

Clark believed the pressure on refuges had gotten worse over the five years since she founded The Aunties.

"It's just impossible at this time of year.

"All the social housing is gone and there just isn't anywhere for these women to go. I'm just making sure they're safe."

Clark believed the increasing numbers were due to more women being homeless and a lack of social housing.


"We need space for women to go and at least get respite. Refuges are used as shelter from violence but are increasingly used as emergency housing when women need somewhere to go and don't have anywhere else.

"There needs to be more of these places and social housing. More facilities that aren't motels. They're really unsettling for women moving from motel to motel."

Clark wanted the Government to get behind the refuge sector, increase funding and enable more refuges to adequately cope with the numbers of women in distress.

MacIntyre-Bardell preferred a preventative approach as a refuge should be the last resort.

She said the cause of family violence was "atrocious attitudes towards women". She highlighted the recent incident of a woman at Rhythm and Vines being groped by a man as she walked dressed from the waist up in glitter. The woman lashed out at the man and had attracted many negative victim-blaming comments, Ruth MacIntyre-Bardell said.

"People are shocked and appalled at cases like Moko. We're all shocked and disgusted but then we turn around to the next article, everyone is blaming this woman and everyone is saying she asked for the assault.

"It's really hypocritical and sad.

"If we want to do something about our statistics we need to change our attitudes."

MacIntyre-Bardell said Women's Refuge funding had not increased in nine years and they were doing more work than ever. She said funding was a major issue holding the sector back.

"We'd love to work ourselves out of the job. That'd be great."

Christmas figures for the two months spanning December 1 2016 and January 31 2017.
There were 3577 referrals to Women's Refuges
There were 3114 women and children who were in Refuge
There were 12,484 bednights nationally
There was 527,883 minutes spent with clients


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 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:
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. http://www.whiteribbon.org.nz