Women's Refuge busy over Christmas period

A Dunedin Women's Refuge worker says she has lost count of how many crisis calls she has attended over the Christmas period.

Nancy, who has 18 years' experience dealing with battered women, confirmed that a surge in crisis calls across the country is also occurring in Dunedin.

The city has two refuges with a total of 12 bedrooms and yesterday morning 10 were being used by women and their children.

"It's pretty full on," Nancy told the Otago Daily Times, while on her way to a Dunedin home to collect a woman and her two children, aged 18 months and three months.

She said normally the busy time for Women's Refuge was in February when "the bills start pouring in" and families struggled with credit card payments.

While Christmas seemed to be getting busier, Nancy believed there was a positive aspect to the rise in crisis calls.

"I suppose in your view it's not [a good sign] but to us it's telling us they're no longer putting up with the [violence]. I think that's good for our children because otherwise they grow up with it [violence] and they start repeating the cycle as well.

"So, in a lot of ways, it's good they're coming out."

She believed the "It's Not OK" television campaign about domestic violence had made "a huge difference" and as a result, victims were "coming in thick and fast".

Some women stayed in a refuge overnight and others stayed for weeks while they waited for suitable accommodation.

When the Dunedin refuges were full, women were taken to Timaru or Gore.

Nancy said crisis calls were not confined to lower socio economic families.

"It's right across the board. The difference is that the people with money don't have to come in [to a refuge] they can run across to Australia."


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