Christmas time - hailed the most violent time for some families and equally, the most fortuitous for domestic violence agencies nationwide to launch their awareness campaigns and, ultimately, raise funds. So why is there a drop in the number of people seeking help while the domestic violence statistics continue to rise?
Figures released by the Family Violence Death Review Committee show 41 people lost their lives to domestic violence, compared to the 19 deaths reported to police in 2008. Sixteen of the 41 were children. http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/concern-over-domestic-violence-statistics-3384919
The above figures, admittedly, deal with death rates. Undoubtedly, there are thousands more who survived domestic violence - thousands. We will never really know the true statistics for domestic violence in New Zealand because not every crime gets reported.
Sure there are agencies out there primed to support fleeing mothers with their terrified off-spring but it's not cheap, financially, let alone emotionally.
I am sure, like most of you out there who dig deep into your pockets come fund-raising time, that there was the assumption that most of these services you give your money to were actually free - like the Women's Refuge, for one.
Now I am not ditching the organisation and I can personally state that their 'service' is not only paramount but could ultimately be responsible for saving a few lives. But I bet you never knew the women had to pay, right?
Two Auckland based Women refuges that I looked into charged the women $190.00 and $200.00 per week respectively. No, that's not for an entire house. It's for a room in a shared house. On top of which, they were expected to pay (on average) three weeks rent in advance. If they don't have the funds, which is in most cases, they can apply to WINZ for a loan which they must pay back. After three weeks in a refuge, most women will be issued with an eviction notice. Sounds harsh but what it does do, is push them up that "qualifying" ladder when it comes to the Housing Corporation of New Zealand.
Now aside from the fact that these women and children have been uprooted, experienced violence in the first place, they are now expected to pull it together, seek funding from a Government agency to live in a refuge and have the additional glee of being presented with an eviction notice. When do they get time to just breath?
As I said before, I am not ditching the Women's Refuge but I will say, it's a rather prosperous business nonetheless. I mean, how many landlords in outer Auckland suburbs rake in $800.00 per week rental income on their four bedroom houses?
That aside, the Police will always advise a woman, especially with children, to apply for a Protection Order which, as we have all come to know, is usually not worth the paper it's written on if you're one of the "lucky" ones who actually got one in the first place. A violent partner is hardly likely to back away from beating the crap out his victim cause she's standing there flapping some piece of paper. The only real use it has is, IF he breeches the Protection Order. In other words, the perp actually DOES come around after being told not to... in which case, it's really up to the police response team as to how much a victim endures, not a piece of paper.
Grant the Police additional powers to enforced an instant Police Safety Order. (1400 removed by domestic violence law | Stuff.co.nz ) It has potential - it means the offender is removed from the home immediately for five days to ensure the woman has "time" to look into her options. However, of the 1400 issued thus far, only 11 proceeded to a 'Protection Order' category which is to say, a Judge agreed with the initial Police Officers decision to remove the offender and make it kind of more legal. Talk about undermining Police!
With all that in mind, it is any wonder less people are actually seeking help?