Facing our demons – family violence

Column Articles
Friday, August 7, 2015

One in three women face some kind of sexual assault in their life – that’s around 670,000 New Zealanders, or the populations of Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin put together.

While our Domestic Violence Act in 1995 was world-leading in identifying and setting out a clear response toward family violence, we need a rethink.

In the next year, 14 women, 7 men and 8 children will be killed by a family member. We have the highest rate of intimate partner violence in the developed world.

So how can we change it?

The Government is calling on New Zealanders to provide their thoughts and share their experiences – you can do so online: https://consultations.justice.govt.nz/policy/family-violence-law

The discussion document raises the following ideas:

  • establishing a set of standalone family violence offences
  • creating an additional pathway for victims, perpetrators and whānau who want help to stop violence, but don’t want to have to go to court
  • ideas about improving the accessibility and effectiveness of protection orders
  • doing a better job of sharing information where family violence concerns arise between agencies and within the courts
  • considering compelling police action in certain circumstances such as requiring mandatory arrest for all breaches of protection orders
  • more prominence to victim safety in related legislation like the Care of Children Act and bail and sentencing law.

Regardless of how uncomfortable it makes us feel, we must collectively assume responsibility in shining a light on situations where this is occurring and ensure the right support structures are in place for victims.

Family violence is not OK: We all need to hear the cries, in our own way we need to help out.