New Zealand is taking ownership of its dirty secrets and while people "freak out" at our domestic violence statistics, Women's Refuge trainer Stacey Pepene says they indicate social change is happening.
Ms Pepene, the national training co-ordinator for the National Collective of Independent Women's Refuges, is in Whanganui to deliver a training programme for refuge volunteers from Whanganui, Taupo and Taumarunui.
She says training and more education are vital as New Zealand rips the bandaid off its domestic violence wounds.
New Zealand's domestic violence statistics are shocking, ranking third in the OECD for domestic violence and child abuse. One in three women in New Zealand and globally will experience psychological or physical abuse from their partners.
"People freak out at that but I think we do well in owning it," Ms Pepene said.
"People are putting up their hands and saying this is not right. I think New Zealand needs to be really proud of that. We aren't burying our dirty secrets anymore. It's ugly and yucky and all those things but we are actually facing it.
"For a long time this country has pulled curtains and closed doors and said I don't want to know. Now we are willing to put the microscope on ourselves and not put the blindfold on our statistics."
Training a diverse range of people to work in the area of domestic violence is essential, with more than half of refuge work done by volunteers.
"Helping people with domestic violence isn't one size fits all and neither is social change.
"Women who have experienced DV are sharing the darkest, ugliest stories about what has happened to them and they need to be able to find someone they feel they can talk to or connect with. It might be someone who looks like them, someone who is their age.
"The training I provide is for advocates - refuge volunteers, staff, governance. People involved with a refuge need a really sound knowledge of domestic violence and how to work with the vulnerability of survivors, both women and children.
"From gardener to governance, refuge workers have to know how to interact with survivors. Clients don't discern between refuge roles so we need to train every refuge worker."
The 60-hour training includes a six-day course and some self-directed training supported by the local refuge they will work with.
"We are about empowering survivors. Communicating with survivors of domestic violence doesn't just happen at refuges. It happens at Pak'nSave, it happens at daycare, it happens everywhere.
"Our training gives good baselines for people who want to learn more and be more participatory in eliminating domestic violence from New Zealand.
"I look at any domestic violence training as providing a higher level of social change. The more people who know how to respond and deal with survivors and perpetrators, the more change we are going to get countrywide.
"Women's Refuge is not just about providing safe houses for women and children. Our community service has quadrupled but use of our safe house service is dropping. That's because women and families are getting better at seeking support before the crisis stage.
"I'm extremely proud that people want to contribute to Women's Refuge and make a difference to DV.
"Everyone can make a difference, even if it's just changing a message in the way we talk to children, colleagues and friends. You don't have to be a counsellor to do this stuff - it takes everyday people to be a part of this."
July is Women's Refuge Awareness Month and it is significant that it is held in winter.
Ms Pepene says incidences of domestic violence increase because people are more likely to be confined at home and less likely to go out to get help because of the weather.
Women's Refuge Whanganui runs a 24-hour crisis line, phone 344 2204 or 0800 REFUGE.
Winter Boutique fundraiser
All of the $10,000 raised by a recent three-week pop-up boutique organised by Women's Refuge Whanganui will be used in the Whanganui region.
"The amazing support we received from both the community and the volunteers has shown us yet again how much the people of Whanganui give to the women and children in our region who experience the trauma of domestic violence," refuge practice manager Jo says.
"People donated near new clothing and high quality accessories for refuge to retail back out to the keen shoppers.
"Women's Refuge Whanganui is only partially funded by a government contract and this covers just a small part of the work we do. We are very reliant on the generosity of our communities to help support our mahi."