Victim Support | Work remains to reduce impacts of homicide: Victim Support
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Work remains to reduce impacts of homicide: Victim Support

Work remains to reduce impacts of homicide: Victim Support

While New Zealand’s homicide rate is falling, too many families are still facing the trauma of homicide, says Victim Support Chief Executive Kevin Tso.

New Zealand Police released figures today showing the provisional number of homicides for 2017 was 48 – the lowest in 40 years.

Victim Support data mirrored the trend, with the organisation supporting 1617 people bereaved by homicide in 2017/18, down from 1707 the year prior, and 1989 in 2015/16.

Mr Tso said that any homicide is too many for those it leaves bereaved.

“It’s important to remember that every homicide leaves many victims. Behind each death is a family and community scarred,” he said.

“To lose a loved one to homicide is one of the most devastating losses anyone can experience, and its impact lasts a lifetime.”

Bereavement from homicide often carries a unique set of reactions, including isolation, shock, anger, blame, guilt, betrayal, denial and feelings of hopelessness and revenge.

Homicide victims were at elevated risk of post-traumatic stress disorder and complicated grief, on top of huge financial disruptions and the stress of the justice system.

Mr Tso said trauma was compounded by the fact that many bereaved survivors also knew their loved one’s killer and struggled to make sense of the death.

“Many homicides occur within family violence situations, so homicide has the ability to rip families apart, plunging them into emotional and financial stress.”

“Then families face stress and revictimisation through the lengthy and confusing court process, where they often feel they are on trial themselves,” said Mr Tso.

Their loss was then retold in the court and the media.

Mr Tso also said it remained critical to keep up the momentum on reducing the causes of homicide, particularly family violence.

“As welcome as it is to see the figures trending down, even 48 homicides is far too many in a small country like New Zealand.”

“The prevalence of family violence in the figures reinforces what we’re seeing right across the crime spectrum. If we want to reduce victimisation, we’ve got to address family violence.”

Victim Support provides specialist homicide support workers to support people affected by homicide, a service available 24 hours a day, all around New Zealand.

Support workers provide wide-ranging practical and emotional support for victims, often working with the family for years after a homicide, supporting them to navigate the immediate aftermath, arrest, trial, appeals, sentencing, parole and beyond.