Family harm incidents reported to police increasing under lockdown - report

Family harm incidents reported to police are increasing under lockdown, according to figures released today.

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There are concerns some people are struggling to get help with their abusers around more than ever. Source: 1 NEWS

The highest number of calls to police was on the first weekend of the lockdown, with 595 reports on Sunday, March 29.

"We know there could be more that aren’t being reported," New Zealand Police Assistant Commissioner Sandra Venables said in a statement.

She Is Not Your Rehab, a support network helping men address domestic violence, has received messages from men around the country seeking support on social media.

"Now that our jobs have been taken away from us, it is hard and so the stresses, the disappointment is definitely heightened during this period," co-founder Matt Brown said.

Mr Brown said a lot of men feel like they’ve lost their purpose in the household without employment.

"If you've been sad before in your life or you’ve been disappointed, you now have to sit with that and so a lot of men are struggling with those feelings."

Mr Brown said people should view the lockdown period as an opportunity to spend time with their whānau.

"Do what’s the next right thing, if that’s going out for a walk then go out and get some fresh air, if that’s throwing a ball around with the kids… try and change your perspective and see this pandemic as an opportunity to be still," he said.

"We're all in this together… there are millions of men around the world who are feeling the exact same feelings that you’re going through."

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Increase in family harm incidents during lockdown period, police say

Mr Brown said programmes focused on whanaungatanga (relationships) and speaking with men, not at men, need to be supported.

"Even if you're at home and you're a wife or a partner, just learning to hold space with our men and walking with them through this journey," he said.

Women's Rights Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo said the Government's efforts to combat family violence during the lockdown need to go beyond funding for support organisations.

"It's really important we’re more creative than just saying, 'call Women's Refuge,'" she said.

Ms Sumeo said not everyone can access a phone to get help, with perpetrators able to monitor victims in isolation, so the Government and community needs to work together to introduce other ways to give victims a voice.

"If victims don't have access to that but they do have that one time to go get the milk or go fill up the car, then that discreet conversation to the teller… hopefully they'll get the signal and just provide that one phone call or their ability to search online and maybe they can call on the woman's behalf while they're waiting to 'pay' for the petrol," she said.

Source: 1 NEWS

"Silence is not OK right now and we can't ignore people's screams for help or if you hear something next door, it's maybe that they can't call for help and you've got to step up and be brave… it's really important right now."

Ms Sumeo's also supporting the call from the Salvation Army and other non-government organisations for the Government to consult with banks on debt relief.

She said financial pressure is a trigger for domestic violence.

"We're offering relief for mortgages, we're offering support for rents, we're offering a whole lot of support packages for businesses - how about our ordinary households right now? I'd really like us to respond to that really, really quickly."

Ms Sumeo said it's time for the Government to act, not just hear her concerns.

Urgent protection order applications to the Family Court nearly halved in the first week of the lockdown at 55, compared to an average of 108 a week in the month prior to alert level two restrictions coming into force.

Women's Refuge chief executive Dr Ang Jury said with some people struggling to get help, the demand for support services could increase when the lockdown lifts.

"We have to be ready if those women actually do require our help," she said.