Women’s Refuge says Christmas time not so festive for many families

Media Release 14th December 2016

Women’s Refuge is calling on New Zealanders to be more vigilant this Christmas and to think about supporting the many families across NZ affected by family violence. Last year over the holiday season there were over 6000 women and children across Aotearoa that needed Women’s Refuge’s help, up nearly 30% from the previous Christmas. With their resources already under pressure Women’s Refuge is hoping that this trend doesn’t continue this season.

“Christmas can be a particularly volatile time for family violence where we see a significant spike in the numbers of women and children needing our help; this can range from a safe place to sleep, to providing a gift for children to open on Christmas day,” says Chief Executive of Women’s Refuge Dr Ang Jury.

“We are continually seeing families displaced by family violence over the festive season. There is added pressure with finances, the influence of alcohol, family staying; all of these things can see a high tension environment turn violent quickly.”

Women’s Refuge are only partially funded by government and are calling on the public for donations to support the work they do. They are asking for online donations via their website, or for people to drop off any new unwrapped presents to their local Warehouse store for the ‘Elves on Shelves’ campaign.

Dr Jury says “We provide a round the clock service across the country, and our kaimahi work tirelessly through the festive season to keep women and children safe from violence on stretched resources; you can have a direct impact on the lives of these families by donating to Women’s Refuge.”

Olivia* knows what a Christmas affected by family violence is like, when last year she and her family were part of the 325 women and children that sought shelter in a Women’s Refuge safehouse over the Christmas period. Olivia was helped by Refuge after her husband had cut up her bank cards and passport to prevent her from shopping for Christmas presents for their kids. With an increasingly dangerous situation and the real possibility of an unsafe Christmas for her and her children, a family member helped her get in touch with refuge.

Women’s Refuge are urging whanau to look out for their friends, family and neighbours, and to call the Police immediately if they suspect someone is in danger. They also encourage the public to call their 0800 crisis number if they have any concerns for family members and would like advice on how they can help them.

“One of the most effective things you can do over Christmas is asking ‘is everything ok?’ that could save a life; we believe all families in New Zealand deserve to have a safe and violent-free Christmas”.

ENDS

Media Enquiries
Ruth MacIntyre  0274 037 196