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Flexible, responsive family violence services needed during COVID-19 crisis

Family Violence Death Review Committee
31 March 2020

The Family Violence Death Review Committee is adding its voice to the calls to ensure flexible, responsive family violence services are provided during the COVID-19 crisis.

The independent committee reviews and advises the Health Quality & Safety Commission on how to reduce the number of family violence deaths.

Committee Chair, Professor Jane Koziol-McLain, has highlighted the need to support men as well as women over this time.

'We know crisis services are necessary for women experiencing violence, but we also know men often seek help to reduce their use of family violence. Many of the actions we expect men to take to stop being violent may not be realistic during this time of lockdown.'

She says men are often told to reach out for support or go out with a friend to diffuse the situation.

'Services need to be vigilant about holding men to account, but also appreciate the stress they and their family or whānau are under.'

Professor Koziol-McLain is cautious about expecting women to take all the responsibility for stopping the violence they may be experiencing.

'To effectively reduce our rates of family violence, we need to support men when they seek to stop using violence. The deep, personal resolve required to stop using violence is not met by a brief stopping violence programme or a five-minute conversation, but through trusting relationships that embrace the whole family or whānau.

'During the lockdown, support systems might be best delivered over the phone, but they need to be delivered to ensure safety for families and whānau. We need enhanced, creative and flexible solutions at this difficult time.

'We also need to ensure we have well-thought-through actions for Police Safety Orders that ensure the safety of women and children. This might include the ability to access supportive accommodation for men at risk of being violent to their family.'

Professor Koziol-McLain said it was important we learn from the experiences of other countries who have seen a dramatic increase in family violence.

'Family violence is a crisis that has been with us for a long time. We need to be especially aware of the potential for violence when families are forced to spend a long time together without other supports.'

She stressed there are actions men can take.

  • Know your trigger points and seek help early – before you feel as though you could harm yourself or others.
  • Become familiar with helplines. They are there to support you through this time, no matter how minor your concern is.
  • When you are feeling stressed or anxious, make contact with a friend, family or whānau member who you know will help you to resolve the situation without turning to violence.
  • Remember you are a role model for your kids – take a pause when you start feeling stressed or anxious.
  • Make a conscious decision to listen to and support your family.
  • Remember drugs and alcohol are not your saviour.
  • Negotiate a ‘time out’ spot in your house – a place where people know to leave you alone.
  • Walk, run, do burpees, sit-ups, press-ups, or follow online exercise programmes.

If you need support to stop using violence:

  • 0800 HEY BRO: for men who feel they’re going to harm a loved one or whānau member
  • Lifeline, Call 0800 LIFELINE (0800 543 354) or text HELP (4357): Ask to speak to one of the male support workers, Lifeline also provide family violence help and support
  • Safe to talk (0800 044334 or text 4334): Sexual violence helpline
  • SHINE (call free 0508 744 633: 9am to 11pm, 7 days a week)
  • Local stopping violence services can be found at
  • Free call or text the Mental Health Foundation on 1737
  • He Ara Mataora: Tools to Stop Violence

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