'Everybody deserves to be safe': Family harm incidents on rise

Photo: Getty Imgages
Photo: Getty Imgages
Just over two weeks into the level 4 lockdown, police say they are beginning to see an increase in family harm incidents.

People have been encouraged to stay at home since March 26  in an effort to fight Covid-19 and reduce the chances of spreading the deadly coronavirus.

Assistant Commissioner Sandra Venables. Photo: NZ Herald
Assistant Commissioner Sandra Venables. Photo: NZ Herald
But the strain is starting to show, with restrictions bringing new pressures to whānau and home environments, police say, and they are urging anyone with concerns or information about family harm in their community to get in touch.

“We want everybody to know police will continue to prioritise family harm incidents and we will come when you call", Assistant Commissioner Sandra Venables said today.

"Everybody deserves to be safe, and feel safe.

“We realise this is a hard time for some families and we want them to know police are there for them. We know that for some people, home right now may be an uncomfortable or scary place."

Venables said it may be hard for some people to get in touch with police or agencies, as they may not have easy access to a phone.

“Let me be clear, if you are in immediate danger and you cannot call us on 111, leave your house and get out of harm’s way.  Your safety comes first. 

"Get to a safe distance and then ask a neighbour, or a passer-by (at a two-metre distance) to call 111 for you. 

“We also urge neighbours and friends to contact police if they have concerns. If you think something’s not right, it probably isn’t."

She said it was everyone's responsibility to help keep each other safe during a challenging time.

"You could be saving a life."

Police’s Integrated Safety Response, Whāngaia Ngā Pā Harakeke, and Family Violence Inter Agency Responses are continually assessing risk and linking victims, perpetrators, families, and whānau to support services, she said.

“Our partners are a crucial part of supporting our communities and ensuring people get the help they need.

“As part of the response in the Covid-19 environment police is part of a family harm and sexual violence pandemic working group, which is ensuring the right groups are connected and working together on monitoring and response.”

Police has worked closely with Ministry of Social Development to ensure there is temporary accommodation for people under Police Safety Orders.

Police, the Joint Venture Business Unit, and MSD have also worked together to ensure 0800 Hey Bro (a number for men who feel they’re going to harm a loved one) has been able to operate nationally during Covid-19.

Support services

• 211 Helpline (0800 211 211) - for help finding, and direct transfer to, community-based health and social support services in your area.

• Find your Local Women's Refuge by calling 0800 743 843 (0800 REFUGE) to be linked up with an advocate in your area.

• Victim Support - call 0800 842 846.  A 24-hour service for all victims of serious crime.

• Victim Information Line/Victim Centre - call 0800 650 654 or email victimscentre@justice.govt.nz.

• Shine domestic abuse services - free call 0508 744 633 (9am to 11pm) if you're experiencing domestic abuse, or want to know how to help someone else.

• Family violence information line - call 0800 456 450 to find out about local services or how to help someone near you.

• Elder Abuse Helpline - call 0800 32 668 65 (0800 EA NOT OK) - a 24-hour service answered by registered nurses who can connect to local elder abuse specialist providers.

• Tu Wahine Trust - call 09 838 8700 for kaupapa Māori counselling, therapy and support for survivors of sexual harm (mahi tukino) and violence within whānau.

• Shakti New Zealand - call 0800 742 584 for culturally competent support services for women, children and families of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin who have experienced domestic violence.

• Safe to Talk - sexual harm helpline. Call 0800 044 334, text 4334 or email support@safetotalk.nz.

• Rape Crisis Centres - call 0800 88 3300 for contact details of your local centre. Provides support for survivors of sexual abuse, their families, friends and whānau.

• Male Survivors Aotearoa New Zealand - call 0800 044 344. Offers one-to-one, peer and support groups for male survivors of sexual abuse and their significant others.

• ACC Sensitive Claims Unit - call 0800 735 566 for access to services related to sexual abuse or sexual assault.

• Hey Bro helpline - call 0800 HeyBro (0800 439 276). A 24/7 help for men who feel they're going to harm a loved one or whānau member.

• Korowai Tumanoko - text or call 022 474 7044 for a kaupapa Māori service for those with concerning or harmful sexual behaviour.

• Stop - support for concerning or harmful sexual behaviour.

• Need to Talk? 1737 - free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

• Youthline - call 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz.

• Kidsline - call 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age (24-hour service).

• Skylight - call 0800 299 100 helping children, young people and their families and whānau through tough times of change, loss, trauma and grief.

• Oranga Tamariki - call 0508 325 459 (0508 FAMILY) or email contact@ot.govt.nz for concerns about children and young people.

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