Sadly, when lockdown originally started, over time Police saw an increase in family violence cases.
An article in Stuff.co.nz stated that on March 24 2021, the day after the lockdown announcement was made, 645 reports of family violence were made to police –second only to New Year’s Day, typically a peak for family violence incidents.*
Our Child Protection and Violence Intervention Team are reminding people to check in with whaanau and friends about what they are experiencing at home due to the increase of stress during this time.
“Although physical signs are easier to see and can help with prompting you to ask questions, there are other signs if you’re not aware of that can easily be missed, “says Olive Hunkin, Child Protection Social Worker, Child Protection Violence Intervention service here at Counties Manukau Health.
“We need to be on the lookout for whaanau and friends, who are in harmful relationships and connect them with the support they need to recognise this and find safe ways to leave.”
“We see the saddening results of family harm when a victim of family harm is hospitalised, and we know it is important to reach them beforehand, “says Olive.
Unfortunately, if people aren’t presenting to hospital, we miss a large proportion of victims in the community who are suffering in silence. This is where awareness around the signs of abuse and actions to take becomes very important so our community can help keep an eye on each other.
However, we don’t suggest putting yourself in harm’s way. There are other actions you can take to help someone you suspect is a victim of family harm.
Some of the signs that a person experiencing family harm may display are:
- Hesitant or evasive when describing injuries
- Distress disproportionate to injuries (e.g. extreme distress over minor injury, or apparent lack of concern about a serious injury)
- Explanation does not account for injury (e.g., “I walked into a door”)
- Different explanation for same injury at different presentations.
If you suspect that someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, or you are one yourself, there are some steps you can follow even during the pandemic.
- If someone makes you fearful, threatens, harasses or hurts you, seek help as soon as possible.
- Support services are still open during the pandemic.
- You can leave your bubble/isolation if you’re worried about your safety.
- If you or someone else is in danger, call the Police on 111. Police take family violence and sexual abuse seriously.
- If you can’t speak when dialling 111, follow the operator’s instructions.
- If you can’t call for help, get out of the house, and ask a neighbour or someone else to call 111.
If there are any concerns for the health or wellbeing of a person who identifies as a victim of violence call 105 and speak with them or if there is concern for imminent risk of harm call 111.
*Article in Stuff.co.nz dated 07/10/2020