Crime & traumatic events
Family violence and harm

Family violence and harm

If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call emergency services on 111.

  • If you’re in danger but it’s not safe to talk, call 111, stay silent, and follow the instructions to connect to police.
  • If you’re calling from a mobile, stay silent and listen for the 'press 55' prompt for help.
  • If you’re calling from a landline, stay silent and follow the operator’s instructions to press any button for help.
  • If you have hearing or speech difficulties, register for the New Zealand Police 111 TXT service so you can text Police, Fire or Ambulance in an emergency.
  • If English is not your primary language, Victim Support can use Connecting Now to connect with an interpreter over the phone. Call us on 0800 842 846 and let us know which language you need. Victim Support can also try and match you with a Support Worker who speaks your primary language.
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Prioritise your safety to avoid the possibility of further harm. Choose a safe place to go to and trusted people to be with.

After traumatic events, it's normal to find that you feel more anxious about your safety and others' safety too. Remember, you're not alone - our Support Workers and other community organisations are here to help you to work out the next steps you can take. We want everyone who has experienced a crime or traumatic event to feel safe and supported.

It's important to prioritise your safety. After traumatic events, it's normal to find that you feel more anxious about your safety and others' safety too. Remember, you're not alone - our Support Workers and other community organisations are here to help you to work out the next steps you can take. We want everyone who has experienced a crime or traumatic event to feel safe and supported.

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If you or others have been injured, see a doctor, go to a hospital emergency department or call an ambulance on 111 regardless of whether you decide to report the incident or not.

A professional medical assessment can help your recovery and ensure physical safety.

Depending on the incident, consider having the doctor prepare a medical report that can be shared with police, if you are comfortable doing that.

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We provide 24/7 free, confidential emotional and practical support and information to anyone affected by crime, suicide and traumatic events, including their whānau and witnesses. We are here for you in your time of crisis to help you feel empowered, make choices and access the services you need to feel safe and in control. We are here for you if you choose to report a crime and even if you don’t.

You can call us or visit our How we can help page to find out more about who we are, how we can help you and how to access our support.

You may qualify for financial assistance under the Victim Assistance Scheme (VAS) which helps victims of serious crime by contributing to costs related to the crime, the justice process and recovery.

For more information you can contact your Support Worker, call us directly on 0800 842 846 or visit our Financial assistance page.

After what’s happened the media may want to get comments or interview you, your family, whānau, close friends or any witnesses.  Media can sometimes feel demanding and intrusive during stressful times but it’s your decision if you want to speak to them or not and what you feel comfortable sharing.

If you have insurance, make an insurance claim as soon as you can. Your insurance company will explain what you need to do next. It may be making a list of missing or damaged items, keeping any damaged items in case they need to be assessed by the insurer or keeping receipts for the expenses resulting from the incident.

It’s common for insurance companies to investigate this kind of claim. You can help them by remembering and noting down as much as you can about any events leading up to or during the incident.

If you don't have insurance, it can take more time to get back on your feet, but support is available to help you cope through what’s happened.

These situations can seem very unjust and unfair and can cause both grief and trauma. There is an overlap between these two reactions but there are also some differences. Grief is a normal reaction to loss, featuring a range of responses that stem from sadness. Trauma is a normal reaction to an abnormal event, featuring a range of responses that stem from fear and anxiety.

To help them cope through what’s happened, provide a safe and supportive space for children and young people to process their thoughts in their own way and reassure them it’s not their fault.

Family, whānau and friends can suddenly be called on to help someone who is a victim, witness, or has been bereaved by a crime or a traumatic event. Your caring support can help the person feel more able to cope and begin to recover. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do or say and you may be feeling stressed by their situation as well. Being there to listen and taking care of yourself along the way helps.

Most people find that unexpectedly witnessing a crime or traumatic incident or discovering the aftermath is disturbing and distressing. Even if you weren’t physically harmed you may still be psychologically affected by what you have seen or heard.

Witnesses often experience a wide range of strong reactions including shock and disbelief, fear, horror, helplessness, anger or grief. You may be overwhelmed or perhaps numb and unable to feel anything at first. You may find you're asking yourself if you could have prevented it, done something different, or helped. You may replay the events in your mind and find it hard to stop distressing thoughts and images. It is common to feel guilty that you witnessed or discovered something so major in someone else’s life and that you were physically unharmed.

It is important to recognise that just because you weren’t directly involved, it doesn’t mean you won’t be affected by what happened. We are here for you if you need support.

The police will ask you to detail what happened and  to make a statement. If you are comfortable doing that, the information you give will help police with their investigation.

After a traumatic experience, people’s memories can sometimes be a bit foggy or uncertain. Things that happened can seem like a blur. Take your time and do your best to tell the police everything you can remember about the incident.

The police officer will write down or record what you say and will give you a copy of your statement to confirm it’s an accurate report of what happened. If you remember additional details later on, you can get in touch with the police officer looking after the case, usually called the "OC" or Officer in Charge.

The Investigation

Police will carry out an investigation, which may include additional interviews with you or any other witnesses. They will collect necessary evidence and keep you updated throughout the process. Be aware that investigations can take some time.

Witness Statements

Witness statements and information provided by you or any other witnesses can help investigators and are important for any legal processes later. They can also help those affected by the event, like the families or whānau of anyone harmed, to better understand exactly what happened.

For many, a ceremonial blessing of the site where a person has died is an essential part of processing the loss. It acknowledges of the spiritual impact of the tragedy and protects and guides the spirit of the deceased. It respects and honours the dignity of the deceased person, their family, whānau, and community.

For Māori, it can include lifting of the tapu on the site and karakia. Other cultural and faith groups have their own unique blessing ceremonies. Some family or whānau members may choose to visit the scene and be part of a blessing ceremony and others may not. They may prefer to hold a private blessing or open it to whomever would like to come, including from the community.

If you are an immediate family or whānau member wishing to organise a blessing for the site, you could contact your kaumātua, local marae, church or faith centre, the police officer who has been working with you, a Police Iwi Liaison Officer, or speak to a Support Worker.

If you don't personally know the family or whānau but witnessed or discovered the incident, you can speak to a Support Worker if you'd like to attend a blessing, provided it is open to the public and the family or whānau are comfortable with that.

For emergencies

Call police on 111 if you’re concerned for the immediate safety of yourself or others, the incident is happening or has just happened, there's serious risk to life or property or there’s an offender there.

If you can't decide if it's an emergency, call 111 and they will help you work out what to do.

For non-emergencies

If the incident doesn’t need urgent police or emergency services, you're not in immediate danger or you have new information about a case, you can make a report in a few ways:

Call the police non-emergency number on 105

Fill in a New Zealand Police 105 report

In person
Find your local police station - Talk to the person at the front counter and they will advise you about what to do. If your nearest station is a small or rural station, call 105 to make sure someone is there to help you. You may want to take a trusted person with you for support.

If you feel unable to report the incident to police directly

You may consider speaking to someone you trust for advice like a family or whānau member, close friend, community or cultural leader, or your Victim Support Worker.

You can anonymously report the incident by phone or by submitting an online form to Crime Stoppers.

Court cases can take some time and the experience may be unfamiliar but getting help and knowing what to expect can make things easier. Your Support Worker can assist and support you throughout the process, including helping you navigate the justice system, deal with police and other government agencies, attend a restorative justice conference and write a Victim Impact Statement.

Any sudden death that is unexpected, violent or suspicious will be investigated by a coroner. Coroners are responsible for determining the details surrounding the death, including how, where, when, and why it occurred. This information is important in listing the cause of death on the official death certificate. It is a complex process that can vary according to the different circumstances of the death but is handled carefully and respectfully by those involved.

Advice and information is available from Aotearoa New Zealand embassies in the country concerned and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) can help. They can liaise with New Zealand Police and the country the person died in about the local investigation and justice process.

MFAT can let you know about:

Official processes required in the country the person died in.

Available local burial or cremation options and any requirements that must be met.

Contact details for funeral directors in that country who could manage the funeral or tangihanga.

How you can bring back the person’s body or ashes (repatriation) to Aotearoa New Zealand.

If a person’s body or their ashes are being returned to Aotearoa New Zealand

The immediate family or whānau can ask a funeral director in Aotearoa New Zealand about the options they have for arranging for their loved one's body or ashes to be repatriated (brought back to New Zealand).

Urgent travel

If you live overseas but the death of someone close to you has happened in Aotearoa New Zealand, the bereaved family or whānau are able to access some assistance here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Manaaki Tāngata | Victim Support
Call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected to a Support Worker for assistance.

The Ministry of Justice's Victims Information Centre
Find information, advice and support. Contact them here.

Support through the criminal justice system
Look in this directory to find a New Zealand lawyer

Some financial support
ACC may accept a claim for accidental death which would provide financial support to cover some costs when the death of a New Zealander has been confirmed by police as murder or manslaughter. If you're overseas contact ACC on +64 7 848 7400

If you live overseas but the death of someone close to you has happened in Aotearoa New Zealand, the bereaved family or whānau are able to access some assistance here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Manaaki Tāngata | Victim Support
Call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected to a Support Worker for assistance.

The Ministry of Justice's Victims Information Centre
Find information, advice and support. Contact them here.

Support through the criminal justice system
Look in this directory to find a New Zealand lawyer

Your chosen funeral director can do as little or as much as you want them to do. Talk with your funeral director about what you would like, including any cultural or religious rituals you want honoured. Ask them about costs and payment options, so you can make choices that are manageable.

A funeral director helps bereaved families and whānau in several ways, including:

collecting the person’s body from the mortuary and caring for them at their funeral home until burial or cremation

providing information about necessary legal requirements after a death

registering the death and helping families get a copy of the death certificate

explaining how you can bring back the person’s body or ashes (repatriation) to Aotearoa New Zealand.

preparing the body for viewing if the family wishes this and it is possible

fulfilling the family’s choices for the funeral, tangihanga (tangi), or memorial event

checking if the person’s legal will requested certain funeral arrangements

organising cremation or burial procedures that meet necessary requirements

helping families apply for financial assistance, if needed

If you and your immediate family or whānau prefer to organise a burial or cremation without a funeral director

If you are experiencing family violence and harm, consider making a safety plan. This is a plan of future actions you can take to keep you and your family and whānau members safe if you feel threatened or are in immediate danger. Everyone’s situation is different; Manaaki Tāngata | Victim Support and other local support services can help you to prepare an individual plan that works for you, when the time is right.

Reporting what happened to police as soon as possible can keep you or others from experiencing further harm but you can still report a crime to police regardless of how long ago it happened.

The tragic death of someone close to us is always distressing, and when it happens unexpectedly or in some cases violently, it can be even more challenging. We might hear the news from others or have witnessed the person’s death ourselves, and the shock can leave us unsure about what we need to do.

A lot needs to happen within the first few days after a death and many people and agencies become involved. They understand how distressing this time is will support you through it respectfully and with care.

Call the National Sexual Harm Helpline Safe to Talk, a 24/7 free, confidential helpline that provides non-judgmental support to individuals of any gender who have experienced sexual harm.

Safe to Talk can provide referrals to specialised support including for Māori, Pasifika, migrants and refugees, LGBTTQI+, and male survivors, and they offer helpful information about sexual harm, local support agencies, and what to expect if you choose to report the crime to the police.

If your first language is not English, they have interpreter services available for over 40+ languages.‍

Free call 0800 044 334 or text 4334

Website and online live chat www.safetotalk.nz

Support is here for you when things get tough. You don't have to face it alone. Reach out to these confidential and non-judgmental services to discuss your situation and get the help you need.


Free 24/7 helpline for counselling support for anyone who is stressed, needs someone to talk to, or is feeling overwhelmed.

Age Concern New Zealand | He Manaakitanga Kaumātua Aotearoa

Elder Abuse Services provides free resources and information for elders across Aotearoa New Zealand who are experiencing abuse or neglect.

Citizens Advice Bureau | Ngā Pou Whakawhirinaki o Aotearoa

Visit your local CAB in person, search their website, or call for free, confidential support about your rights and how to access community or justice services you need.

Depression NZ

Free 24/7 depression helpline and information and resources to help individuals dealing with depression in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Elder Abuse Response Service

Free, confidential 24 hour helpline for elders with concerns about how they are being treated, or feel frightened or at risk.

Family Services Directory

Directory of nationwide support providers who can help families and whānau cope with common issues and problems.

It’s Not OK

Information about unsafe relationships, including for the Disability, Takatāpui and Rainbow communities, and a free 24/7 Family Violence Information Line.

Lifeline Aotearoa

Free 24/7 helpline to support the emotional wellbeing of New Zealanders and connect people to support that helps them cope through a difficult situation.

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand

Nationwide directory of GPs, mental health counsellors and services, and information for anyone in need of mental health support.

New Zealand Relay

Helps people who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech-impaired, and deafblind to connect with support services over the phone.

OutLine Aotearoa

Specialist all ages counselling, resources, and peer support for the Rainbow community across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Rainbow Youth

Support, information, resources & advocacy for Aotearoa's queer, gender diverse, takatāpui and intersex youth.

Safe to Talk | Kōrero mai ka ora

Free 24/7 sexual harm helpline for people of any gender that provides advice and support from trained specialists, and referrals to support services in your community.


Free 24/7 crisis helpline, culturally-safe family violence intervention, prevention, and awareness for migrant and refugee women, children and families of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin.


Free 24/7 helplines for people of any gender, support, refuges, and safety programmes to helps keep adults and children safe from domestic violence.

Skylight Trust

Counselling, resources, and a specialist support library for children, young people, and adults who are experiencing any kind of grief, loss or trauma, including after a homicide or suicide.

Talking Works NZ

A directory of professional counsellors around Aotearoa New Zealand.

What's Up

Free nationwide counselling helpline and webchat service for children, tamariki and teenagers,rangitahi who need some support to help them to deal with what’s on their mind.

Women’s Refuge

Free 24/7 support, advocacy, and accommodation for women and their children experiencing family violence.


Free 24/7 helpline, and face-to-face mental health counselling services for young people.


Family violence, also known as family harm, occurs when someone uses their words or actions to control or harm a family or whānau member.

This abuse can happen across all parts of society, in any type of relationship, by any gender and towards any gender. It can happen against intimate partners and spouses or ex-partners and ex-spouses, children, relatives or housemates. It can also affect pregnancies and an unborn baby. It's not just physical, but can involve sexual, emotional or financial harm, or neglect. This type of violence often remains hidden.

Some examples of family violence and harm behaviours include:

  • strangulation and choking - if this happens, call 111 immediately as there can be delayed physical reactions that are serious
  • physical or sexual violence, or threats of it
  • verbal abuse, like constant criticism or blaming
  • intimidation and making you feel afraid
  • controlling behaviour, like restricting phone access, what you do, wear, or who you see
  • financial control, including withholding money from you for things you need
  • extreme jealousy or possessiveness
  • stalking and harassment
  • threats to kill
  • threats to take away access to your children
  • harming or threatening to harm animals/pets
  • damage to your property or belongings
  • denial of basic needs like respect, food, clothing, or medical help

If you have experienced family violence, it's important to know that it's not your fault. No one has the right to harm you and you deserve to feel safe in your relationships.

The support of trusted family, whānau and close friends who listen and care for you, can help you feel less alone knowing someone is there to support you, whatever you decide to do.

It isn’t easy to speak up, but it is okay to ask for help. We are here for you and there are many supportive community organisations you can contact for help too.

Family violence and harm can involve assault, sexual violence, and stalking and harassment. More information and resources can be found by visiting our Assault, Sexual violence or Stalking and harassment pages.


How we can help



First steps you can take

Stay safe




The National Home Safety Service

Women’s Refuge’s Whānau Protect Programme provides a free national service to help victims of family violence and harm to stay safely in their homes. This is a service for those victims at very high risk (further victimisation from the offender that will likely result in serious physical injury or death) and some key criteria must be met.

For those that meet the criteria, there is support with practical measures like installing security lights, providing monitored personal panic alarms, replacing locks and fixing broken windows, and connecting them with other support agencies.

To find out if you might be eligible or to submit an application for this service, please visit the Women’s Refuge Whānau Protect Programme page.

Get medical help


Report the incident to police





Police Safety Orders (PSO)

If police attend a family violence or harm incident, they may choose to issue a Police Safety Order (PSO) to protect victims and their family or whānau. You can’t ask for a PSO, it is up to the police to issue one. Police do not need consent to issue a PSO.

The order can last for up to 10 days and during that time the person causing the harm cannot make contact with you or your children, cannot go near your home (even if they own it or normally live there) and cannot intimidate, threaten or stalk you.

Give a statement to the police



If you have witnessed or discovered the incident



Financial assistance



Practical matters

Family violence leave

If you, or a child or young person you care for are affected by a family violence and harm, you can ask your employer for paid domestic violence leave and flexible working arrangements.

You can find more information about your rights, qualifying for this leave and how to apply on the New Zealand Government | Te Kawānatanga o Aotearoa Family violence leave page.

Apply for a protection order

Talk with police or a lawyer about applying for a protection order that gives you protection from someone who has harmed you or others in your family or whānau. A Support Worker can assist you to do this.

A protection order states a perpetrator must not hurt, threaten, or even come near you, your children, or other members of family or whānau living with you.

See the New Zealand Police information about protection orders for detailed information on the types of protection orders police can put in place, including how to apply for one.

Safety Services

The Ministry of Justice provides free and confidential safety services to victims of family violence and harm who have applied for a protection order or are the victim of an incident going through a criminal court.

Safety services are available to support you in managing the impact of violence and harm, regain confidence, and progress towards a positive future. You can learn how to keep safe and be given some practical information about how protection orders work.

There are also courses available for children to help them cope through any violence they may have witnessed or experienced.


ACC Sensitive Claims Unit counselling

The ACC Sensitive Claims Unit provides free and confidential access to support for people affected by sexual violence, including free counselling. More information on this service can be found on ACC's website or by calling the ACC Sensitive Claims Unit on 0800 735 566.

Apply for a parenting or guardian order

Parenting order

You can apply for a parenting order if there’s a dispute about who looks after the children and when (day-to-day care- formerly called custody) or when parents and others see the children (contact - formerly called access).

Order to settle a dispute between guardians

You can apply for an order to settle a dispute between guardians if you want the Family Court to make decisions about guardianship issues.  These issues include where the children live, where they go to school, medical treatment (other than routine medical matters), what their culture, language, and religion will be and any changes to their name.


Family Violence Information Disclosure Scheme

The Family Violence Information Disclosure Scheme (FVIDS) allows potential victims of family violence and harm, or concerned parents, relatives or friends, to request information relating to any violence history of a new partner.

The aim is to enable a partner of someone who has previously been violent to make informed choices about how and whether they continue the relationship.

Disclosure of information will be considered on a case-by-case basis and police can only provide information if the relevant legislation permits.

For more information you can contact the police in person or via their 105 line by following the information and links detailed in the non-emergency box above.


If there is a court case



Common reactions and how to cope

Family violence is when someone uses coercion, power, fear or intimidation to control someone they are in a close or household relationship with. This abuse can be physical,sexual, psychological (emotional) or economic. Family violence and harm can cause both physical wounds that you can see and deep invisible wounds. If you’ve been living with repeated abuse of any kind, you have been living in an ongoing state of fear.

You may be putting a lot of energy into trying to avoid the abuse happening again. This feeling of always being on edge can wear you down to the point where you may feel you are not the same person you once were. It affects your self-esteem and dignity.

It's common to experience shame but it’s important to know that no matter what the perpetrator or others may have said, it is not your fault. When a crime occurs, the offender is responsible, not you. You may also fear that you won’t be believed or that things will get worse if you tell someone. It’s normal to feel confused as you may have conflicting feelings towards the perpetrator. Violence of any kind is not okay, even if you love the person and want them in your life.



Supporting others

Supporting children and young people

Family violence and harm can have a significant impact on children and young people, both physically and emotionally. Not all children and young people are affected in the same way, but family violence and harm situations are always frightening and distressing for them. The greater and more frequent they are, the greater the negative effects will be. For some it can be deeply traumatic and have far-reaching consequences.

The most important thing is to keep them safe. This may involve taking steps to protect them from the abuser, or helping them to develop a safety plan. It is also important to provide them with love, support, and reassurance.

Let them know that it is okay to talk about what is happening, and listen to them without judgment. Help them to understand that the violence and abuse is not their fault, and that they are not alone.

Encourage them to stay connected with caring family, whānau, and friends, and help them to find positive activities and interests to focus on. And, most importantly, let them know that you love them and support them. When children and young people are given warm and caring love, support, and ongoing safety, they can begin to heal from the effects of harm.

Remember, you are not alone. There are people who can support you through this.


Supporting victims or witnesses

If you're aware of someone experiencing family violence, or suspect they are facing abuse, provide non-judgmental support, show that you believe them, and support them in a way that works best for them - follow their lead about what they would like to do. Make sure they are safe and be careful not to say or do anything that may put them or their children at risk. If they’re not ready to reach out for support, don’t give up. It can take time for victims to be ready to reach out for help.




Support services




Useful websites and other information


Downloadable resources