Police Southern District family violence co-ordinator
Senior Sergeant Marty Gray, of Dunedin, wants people to
address domestic violence. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
We need to talk about domestic violence. That is the
message from Senior Sergeant Marty Gray, of Dunedin.
The Police Southern District family violence co-ordinator is
calling for a national conversation on domestic violence.
''We need to be a lot more open and bring it to everyone's
attention and let it out there in the public domain.
''It is not just about a police response ... we should all
He urged those who lived with domestic violence or suspected
it was going on behind closed doors to ''get in contact with
us, or find someone else to talk to because you are probably
right, there is something going on''.
He asked people to look out for each other, particularly at
this time of year as family violence rates typically
''We just can't put our finger on why that is.''
Snr Sgt Gray said a ''significant amount'' of police work
involved family violence situations, and under the police's
prevention first strategy, it was about stopping offending
and focusing on victims.
It was important people knew what to do to avoid becoming a
victim or perpetrator of family violence.
''In practical terms, family violence is about someone
deciding to exercise power and control over another person.
''Often, people perceive this as only physical, i.e. broken
bones and bruises. However, it also includes put-downs,
intimidating someone, using children to get at another
partner, controlling someone's money, controlling who they
see and what they wear.''
If you are a friend, neighbour, parent or child of a person
you think is in a violent relationship, the following
suggestions are steps you can take:
Always keep lines of communication open: Isolation is
apparent in a large number of family violence cases.
Isolation manifests itself in many forms, from stopping the
victim seeing friends and family, opening mail, making it
difficult to keep in touch, never liking the victim's friends
and checking up on the victim. Once isolated, the offender
makes the victim dependent on them. Often, the victim feels
they must constantly check with the abuser before doing
anything for fear of an argument.
Never judge: There are many reasons why victims stay
in relationships - it is better to concentrate on the
unacceptable behaviour of the aggressor. Victims are normally
so scared of the abuser that they often return rather than
suffer the abuse and humiliation that the abuser will use if
Don't assume that if the relationship ends, the victim is
safe: It is recognised that it is at the time of
separation that the violence and intimidation is likely to
escalate. This is a time to be vigilant and help protect the
victim and children. Develop safety plans and seek help from
support agencies sooner rather than later.
Seek advice from professionals: Women's Refuge, Victim
Support, Rape Crisis, Stopping Violence, Age Concern, Work
and Income, Housing New Zealand, Police and Family Court are
departments that can help with family violence matters.
Report incidences of violence: If a victim does not
want to report violence to police, encourage them to report
it to their health professional, Women's Refuge or Rape
Crisis. Keep a diary, take photos of injuries. These actions
may not be able to be used in the prosecution of an offender,
but they can make for a better assessment of risk for you and
agencies, and make the victim more aware of their situation.
''Southern Police are committed to ensuring victim and child
safety, offender accountability and to collaborating
effectively with agencies that can help us to achieve this,''
Snr Sgt Gray said.
''All of us in this community need to be part of the
solution, not only for women, but for the children and also
the men who suffer violence in our midst,'' he said.
If you have a concern about family violence, please make
contact with your local family violence co-ordinator or your
local police station.