By RNZ

Police are asking everyone to have a stress-free low-key Christmas Day, without the spike in family harm they usually witness.

Inspector Fiona Roberts said the Christmas season was an extremely busy time of year for police attending assaults and family violence incidents.

"When families get together, children and our tamariki are very important parts of people's families and they often are witnessing either family harm or family violence or they are subject of, which is obviously concerning to us."

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Roberts said violence included physical and psychological violence.

To help keep stress low, she shared a few tips like not letting expectations for Christmas get unrealistic, taking time out for some space and not drinking too much.

St John Ambulance also urged revellers to stay safe, but said ambulance officers were often kept busy during the festive season.

National pathways manager Kris Gagliardi said assault cases go up each December.

"Over that really busy summer month of December we see about a 25 per cent increase. Often we have to worry - are there children at the scene, are there kids to worry about, are there other people living in the house? So they can be quite complicated incidents to deal with."

Gagliardi said ambulance officers were often bearing the brunt of some of the most difficult cases, and were increasingly threatened or assaulted too.

He recommends people take care of their health and stress levels over Christmas, and not drink to excessively, to help deal with holiday tensions.

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"Christmas and the holiday season can be a stressful time for New Zealanders and that's often due to financial hardships, families get together - that doesn't always go well - there's a lot of alcohol consumed over the summer period, so these can all be triggers which can lead to an increase in assaults," he said.

- RNZ

WHERE TO GET 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

• 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 www.whiteribbon.org.nz
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