Most men who used severe violence against their female partners in New Zealand had sought help - but opportunities to stop their behaviour escalating were missed.

Instead of being given appropriate support, men were turned away by under-resourced services, or had their concerns minimised, or were even sent to programmes that might have entrenched their attitudes about women, according the latest report by the Family Violence Death Review Committee.

The report, released today, analysed 97 cases where men were the "predominant aggressor" in a death from 2009-2017. It concluded that if New Zealand wanted to address family violence, there needed to be change in the way male behaviour was dealt with.

"Demonising men who use violence and solely relying on criminal sanctions and short-term interventions hasn't worked," Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) chair Professor Jane Koziol-McLain said.

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"We need to do things differently and interrupt the pathways men are on that lead them to this violence."

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Examples of ineffective responses in the report included a violent man presenting himself a number of times to the police front counter and being provided with a pamphlet and told to go to psychiatric services.

Another man presented his firearms to the police after his partner and daughter had expressed concerns but received no offer of additional support.

In a further case, psychiatric services discharged a man even though he had "depressive symptoms with low tolerance to relationship difficulties".

Interactions with the justice system were "transactional", the report said. They tended not to see the man as a person within a family or whānau or consider the range of his relationships.

And violence programmes - if they could access them - were also limited. Even if they did complete a programme, the men continued using violent behaviour.

Koziol-McLain said agencies needed to understand that poor responses may stop people from seeking help in the future.

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"Funding and service delivery structures need the flexibility to develop services that can provide help when and where it is required."

According to the report, there were a total of 230 family violence deaths recorded in New Zealand between 2009 and 2017. Intimate partner violence was the single largest contributor to these deaths, accounting for 48 per cent of the total. Child abuse and neglect accounted for 27 per cent and intrafamilial violence for 25 per cent of the total.

In intimate partner deaths, most of the offenders were men and most of the deceased victims were women.

The FVDRC's sixth report provides an overview of the lives of 97 men who used violence against their intimate partners during that time, and explores the context in which that violence occurred.

It is a contrast to earlier reports, which tried to better reflect the reality of women's experiences of intimate partner violence, and to explain the gendered pattern of harm and layers of social entrapment that exist in those relationships.

It canvasses the legacy of colonisation, trauma and inadequate service responses. It acknowledges both that Māori are over-represented in the statistics, but that 67 per cent of men in the report were non-Māori.

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It said early experience of violence, rejection and transience was a common feature of the men's lives. Many men also demonstrated impacts of trauma, included complex trauma stemming from colonisation.

Common characteristics included a need for control, an inability to acknowledge weakness, and internalised hurt from a breakdown of a relationship.

Those characteristics translated to ineffective parenting, drug and alcohol use, depression and violence.

The report said, however, that was not the experience of all men, and there was no single, consistent story that described a man's lived experience before he uses violence towards an intimate partner.

To address violence, New Zealand also needed to address privilege, it said.

Male privilege was maintained in New Zealand society by "protecting a dominant, patriarchal world view for institutions" and having funding structures that do not make institutions accountable for achieving equity.

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Services frequently did not understand the ways in which their systems protected men.

For example, it said the Ministry for Children needed a more nuanced understanding of how men use children to threaten, control and intimidate women. This included understanding coercive controlling behaviours that can continue, and in some cases escalate, after a couple have separated.

It said while it was increasingly acknowledged that children's exposure to intimate partner violence was harmful, that view had come with an increased emphasis on blaming women for "failing to protect" their children. At the same time, agencies fail to hold men responsible for their behaviour.

But then, it said, professionals receive little training to work with men who use violence.

The report recommended sweeping changes that began with an honest Crown-Māori partnership. It said services needed to be decolonised, racism and structural inequities addressed.

And the Government needed to identify effective strategies that address men's use of violence - that were collaborative and creative, and allowed for long-term, holistic engagement with men who used violence to take responsibility for their behaviour and live in a violence-free way.

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Lastly, it said that is was important that any work with men did not reduce the resources available to support women and children.

Question and answers

What is a primary aggressor?

The person who is the most significant or the main aggressor in an intimate relationship, and who has a pattern of using violence, threats, humiliation and/or intimidation to control their partner

What is a primary victim?

The person who (in the abuse history of the relationship) is experiencing ongoing coercive and controlling behaviours from their intimate partner

What is intimate partner violence?

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The FVDRC views intimate partner violence as a gendered form of social entrapment for women.

Women are vulnerable to social entrapment across three dimensions, which compound a man's violence and control:

• Social isolation, fear and coercion the abusive partner's violence creates in the victim's life.

• The indifference of institutions to the victim's suffering.

• Structural inequalities such as gender, class and racism that can aggravate coercive control.

Support services available:

• 211 Helpline (0800 211 211) – for help finding, and direct transfer to, community-based health and social support services in your area.

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• Find your Local Women's Refuge by calling 0800 743 843 (0800 REFUGE) to be linked up with an advocate in your area.

• Victim Support – call 0800 842 846. 24-hour service for all victims of serious crime.

• Victim Information Line/Victim Centre – call 0800 650 654 or email victimscentre@justice.govt.nz.

• Shine domestic abuse services – free call 0508 744 633 (9am to 11pm) if you're experiencing domestic abuse, or want to know how to help someone else.

• Family violence information line – call 0800 456 450 to find out about local services or how to help someone near you.

• Elder Abuse Helpline – call 0800 32 668 65 (0800 EA NOT OK) - a 24-hour service answered by registered nurses who can connect to local elder abuse specialist providers.

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• Tu Wahine Trust – call 09 838 8700 for kaupapa Māori counselling, therapy and support for survivors of sexual harm (mahi tukino) and violence within whānau.

• Shakti New Zealand – call 0800 742 584 for culturally competent support services for women, children and families of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin who have experienced domestic violence.

• Safe to Talk – sexual harm helpline. Call 0800 044 334, text 4334 or email support@safetotalk.nz.

• Rape Crisis Centres – call 0800 88 3300 for contact details of your local centre. Provides support for survivors of sexual abuse, their families, friends and whānau.

• Male Survivors Aotearoa New Zealand – call 0800 044 344. Offers one-to-one, peer and support groups for male survivors of sexual abuse and their significant others.

• Tu Wahine Trust – call 09 838 8700 for kaupapa Māori counselling, therapy and support for survivors of sexual harm (mahi tukino) and violence within whānau.

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• ACC Sensitive Claims Unit – call 0800 735 566 for access to services related to sexual abuse or sexual assault.

• Hey Bro helpline – call 0800 HeyBro (0800 439 276). 24/7 help for men who feel they're going to harm a loved one or whānau member.

• Korowai Tumanoko – text or call 022 474 7044 for a kaupapa Māori service for those with concerning or harmful sexual behaviour.

• Stop – support for concerning or harmful sexual behaviour.

• Need to Talk? 1737 – free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

• Youthline – call 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz.

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• Kidsline – call 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age (24-hour service).

• Skylight– call 0800 299 100 helping children, young people and their families and whānau through tough times of change, loss, trauma and grief.

• Oranga Tamariki – call 0508 325 459 (0508 FAMILY) or email contact@ot.govt.nz for concerns about children and young people.