Speak out about violence, police urge

Matt Scoles.
Matt Scoles.
Southern police are calling on residents to take a stand against family violence this holiday season.

Last week, police in the district responded to at least 45 reports of family violence and 10 serious assaults.

Southern district victims manager Inspector Matt Scoles said family members and neighbours should intervene to prevent family violence.

''As a mate, family member and community member, we all have a responsibility to prevent family violence and the harm that occurs,'' he said.

''Sometimes just one action or comment can make the difference.

''The sooner you reach out to someone who is being violent, the sooner they can get help to change. The sooner you reach out to someone living with family violence, the sooner they can get help.

''Don't ask yourself 'what will happen if I say something?' What will happen if you don't?''

Each year, police in New Zealand attend more than 100,000 family violence incidents - 299 each day or one every 4.9 minutes.

In the Otago Coastal area - encompassing Dunedin, Waitaki and Clutha - police attended more than 250 events of family violence every month, Insp Scoles said.

''Family violence is a crime. It is not a private matter. People in violent relationships often cannot help themselves. They need your help.

''Family violence thrives in secrecy. The sooner you reach out to someone who is living with violence, whether they are the victim or perpetrator, the sooner they can get help.

What you can do

  • Challenge the behaviour — but never risk  your own or others’ safety.
  • Offer support to victims and find out what they need.
  • Make your home a safe place for them and a place they can come to talk.
  • Call 111 if you believe someone is in danger. 
  • Call the  It’s Not OK information line,  0800 456-450, for advice.
  • Provide information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555-111.
More information: www.areyouok.org.nz

''Family violence can be prevented. However, this requires huge commitment and continuous action across many sectors, not just police but our partner agencies too and, of course, the public.

''New Zealand Police take complaints of family violence seriously. If you report any kind of family violence, you will be treated with respect and confidentiality.''

The problem was particularly pronounced over Christmas and the January holiday period, as financial stresses and alcohol made for a volatile mix.

''Family violence isn't confined to any particular socio-economic group or any particular communities. It occurs in every demographic and every member of our staff has seen the damage done,'' he said.

''It is of concern that a number of children are present during family violence incidents, as experiencing violence can physically harm children, make them anxious and fearful, and affect the way their brain develops.

''It can affect the way they behave and lead to problems at school or with their friends.

''The impact of family violence on children is well understood and police encourage families, neighbours and the wider community to speak up to police if there is immediate concern for the wellbeing of children and other family members.

''If you see any of the danger signs in a relationship or family you know, or are concerned about a child, it's serious and should not be ignored.''

-Dunedin police (03) 471-4800, Crimestoppers 0800 555-111.


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