They have been stabbed, beaten, shot at, locked in sheds and treated like a ''rubbish tip'' .

These are just some of the true life stories from women who have sought help at Rotorua's Waiariki Women's Refuge - and they come hard on the heels of news the number of family violence investigations by Bay of Plenty police has doubled in 10 years.

Figures from Family Violence Clearinghouse - operated by the University of Auckland and funded by the Families Commission - shows the number of police family violence investigations went from 5777 in 2007 to 12,745 in 2016.

But a spokesman said in many cases family harm was unreported and not reflected in data.


Minister of Justice Andrew Little told the Rotorua Daily Post family and domestic violence ''is one of the fastest-increasing areas in crime and is a priority for this government''.

The priority was to provide safety for victims that were mainly women and children and to put the perpetrators through the criminal justice system, he said.

''But an important way of reducing incidences of family and domestic violence is to help them change their behaviours and their ways. Many perpetrators, certainly men, ... have got their own traumas that they have never dealt with and their own issues that they have never come to terms with.''

Bay of Plenty Family Violence co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Graham Perks said family violence "has a significant impact on families in our community''.

He acknowledged police in the district attended more than 12,000 family harm incidents in a year.

Earlier this year Waiariki Women's Refuge became part of a daily multi-agency meeting, set up to respond to and assess any family harm incidents reported to police and ensure they were referred to the appropriate agency.

Refuge manager Paula Coker said the numbers of women seeking help and support had climbed ''but that is a great thing''.

''Having women use their voices that they were born with means they are only going to get better and stronger.''

But it was not an easy path, she said, as women often felt shame and thought ''How did I get to that point?''.

''Being shot at, locked in cars, being locked up in sheds, being stabbed and beaten ... there are multiple different cases and none is the same.

''It has a huge impact as these women have been subjected to all forms of violence and their children are subjected and exposed to it. A female always tries to protect her children and keep them safe, if she can't keep herself safe she can't keep her children safe so that messes with their mental ability to do the right thing.

''Women can come in feeling very low and suffering from psychological trauma, they are isolated and have nowhere to go and it's a huge struggle for them to sit down and share their experiences.''

Lower soci-economic or poverty stricken women were not the only ones affected by violence. She said there were professional woman experiencing violence who felt shame about how a disclosure might impact their future, she said.

At-risk women should call the refuge or tell someone.

''My advice is to talk about it, it's not theirs to carry. Their perpetrators are treating them like rubbish tips and then dumping all of their stuff on it. Women need to know it is not their fault and they do not walk this journey alone.''

Its statistics for 2017 revealed 374 referrals for women and children, with 81 of those staying in the safe house compared to 278 referrals and 70 of those being placed in the safe house in 2016. In addition, 562 calls to the crisis line had been supported either through community or residential placement.

Salvation Army Rotorua lieutenant Kylie Overbye said the organisation had also seen the effects of family violence.

''We sometimes see this among our clients and we also work closely with the Rotorua Family Harm Team and other agencies in the city to ensure wrap around support is provided for victims. ''

Meanwhile dairy giant Fonterra has recently taken a stand on family violence.

It had joined Shine and Women's Refuge and launched a programme to raise awareness about family violence and provide support services for employees who may need help.

People and Culture managing director Joanne Fair said businesses had a huge role to play in ''tackling what is one of New Zealand's biggest social issues''.

"We want to play our part in getting our people the help they need, as the workplace is often a safe place from violence at home. This initiative is about making family violence okay to talk about within our organisation and ensuring our people know help is readily available if needed.''

Police family harm response

* 'Eyes wide open' approach for our staff when they are investigating a call for service involving a family in our community.
* Taking greater responsibility for the safety of victims and children who are at risk, recognising family harm is episodic and looking out for signs of wider factors which may be negatively compounding on the family, for example financial pressure, limited education and alcohol and drug use.
* Ensuring we offer the right multi-agency support to the wider family at need.
- NZ Police