What is family violence and harm?

If anyone is in immediate danger call 111 and ask for police. They will arrange protection and support. If you’re in danger but can’t talk see about Silent Solution Calls here.

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Family violence and harm can also be called domestic violence, family violence, family harm, or domestic abuse. There are a wide range of ways that an abusive person can use their words and actions to control and harm someone else in their family or whānau.

Family violence and harm can be done to others by someone of any gender type.

Family violence is not only harm against an intimate partner but includes harm against any family member including a partner or spouse, parent, child, cousin, elder, other close relative, flatmate or boarder in the home. It can also affect pregnancies and an unborn baby.

Family violence and harm isn’t only physical harm – it could also be sexual, psychological/emotional, financial harm or neglect.

It can often be  hidden from others for a long time, usually happening when other people aren’t there. Family violence and harm can happen to anyone, in any family or whānau and anywhere. You don’t have to be living in the same home. It can affect people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, cultures, religions, and backgrounds, any status or wealth.

Family violence and harm is never okay - it is a crime. No one has the right to hurt you. You have the right to feel safe in your relationships, and your home. It is not your fault if you are being harmed and you do not have to accept it. The only person to blame for this crime is the perpetrator.

It isn’t easy to speak up, but it is okay to ask for help
Being abused, controlled, or harmed by a family member can take many forms. If you are experiencing any of the following things, contact one of the help agencies listed below or report what’s happened to police.

  • Physical or sexual violence – or threats of it.
  • Humiliation – verbal abuse, constant criticism or blaming.
  • Intimidation – being made to feel afraid.
  • Controlling behaviour – saying what you can or cannot do, what to wear, restricting access to your phone, stopping you from seeing family, whānau, and friends.
  • Extreme jealousy or possessiveness.
  • Stalking and harassment.
  • Strangulation and choking. This is especially dangerous and there can be delayed physical reactions that are very serious. Call police as soon as possible on 111, or call a support agency listed below
  • Threats to kill.
  • Misusing finances – holding back money for things you need or controlling it all themselves.
  • Damaging your property or belongings.
  • Having basic needs denied, such as food, clothes, love and respect, use of car, or medical help.
  • Threatening to have access to your children taken away.
  • Violence and causing harm is never okay in any family or whānau.

Support services
Call any of the free and confidential family violence and harm national helplines below. They can talk with you about your situation and the choices you have.

  • Women’s Refuge - 0800 733 843 (24/7)
  • Shine - 0508 744 633, 9am to 11pm daily.
  • It’s Not OK - 0800 456 450, 9am to 11pm daily. They can provide information and put you in touch with services in your region.
  • Shakti for migrant and refugee women – 0800 742 584 (24/7)
  • Rape Crisis – 0800 88 33 00
  • Elder Abuse – 0800 32 668 65 (24/7)
  • Victim Support You can call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker. 

If you’re deaf, you can call these helplines using the New Zealand Relay Service.

Violence and causing harm is never okay in any family or whānau
The safety and protection of you and your family or whānau is the top priority. Everyone has the right to feel safe, and to be safe

Other useful websites and information
What Family Violence and Harm Involves (Plunket)
Safer Homes Booklet (Shine) for practical information for victims of domestic abuse
Keeping Kids Safe and Secure
Are you okay?


Family violence and harm: Supporting children and young people