Help for family violence

A child interviewer talking to a young boy. Family violence is a crime. It is not a private matter. People in violent relationships often cannot help themselves. They need your help.

In an emergency dial 111 and ask for the Police. Your call could save a life. Ignoring family violence could result in serious injury or death. Nearly half of all homicides in New Zealand are related to family violence.

The law says that 'domestic violence' can be physical, sexual or psychological.

  • Nobody has the right to assault another person.
  • Nobody is allowed to have sexual contact with another person without permission.
  • Nobody has the right to use intimidation, threats or mind games to gain power over another person.

If you are a victim of family violence or in a relationship that makes you fearful about your own or anyone else's safety, seek help as soon as possible. You have the right to be safe.

If you are a friend or acquaintance of a victim of family violence, you can help by listening and being supportive, ensuring the person and any children are safe and finding out what help is available in the community.

If you are a friend or acquaintance of a violent person, you can help by telling them it is not OK and assisting them to find help.

Police Safety Orders

A Police Safety Order (PSO) is issued when Police have reasonable grounds to believe that family violence has happened or may happen. The Police do not need the consent of the person at risk to issue the order and there is no right of appeal. A PSO usually last one or two days, but can be up to five.

When a PSO is made, the person bound by the order must leave the address while the PSO is in force, even if they own the address and/or normally live there.

The bound person must not:

  • assault, threaten, intimidate or harass the protected person or encourage anyone else to do the same
  • follow, stop or contact in any way the person at risk in any place, either at home, at work, or anywhere else the person at risk visits often.

The PSO also protects any children living with the person at risk. Any conditions of parenting orders or agreements permitting access or care by the bound person are suspended.

See more information about Police Safety Orders.

Protection Orders

Protection Orders protect people from violence. They are an important part of the Domestic Violence Act 1995.

If you are in immediate danger call 111 and ask for Police. They will respond immediately.

If the danger is not immediate, but you decide you want to make domestic violence stop, there are organisations that can help you arrange a Protection Order. These include the Family Court, Police, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki–Ministry for Children, Women's Refuge, Network of Stopping Violence, Victim Support and your lawyer.

A lawyer, preferably one who is familiar with family law and the Family Court, will help you prepare your application, take down your statement and, if you are on a low income, apply for free Legal Aid. If you don't know a suitable lawyer, all the main support agencies like Women's Refuge, Citizens Advice Bureau, Community Law Centre, Victim Support or Salvation Army can help you find one.

Or you can go to your nearest Family Court and ask the Family Court Coordinator how to apply for a Protection Order.

Protection Orders have standard conditions but they are also flexible enough to deal with your situation. Some of the conditions the person committing the violence (called the respondent) must follow are that they:

  • must not physically, psychologically or sexually abuse or threaten the applicant or their children
  • must not damage or threaten to damage the applicant's property
  • must not encourage anyone else to physically, sexually or psychologically abuse or threaten the applicant or their children.

See more information about Protection Orders.
Visit the website of Neighbourhood Support for information on family violence.

Getting more help

  •  Are You OK? website
    For information about family violence, what it is and where to get help.
  • Family Violence Information Line (0800 456 450)
    Provides self-help information and connects people to services where appropriate. It is available seven days a week, from 9am to 11pm, with an after-hours message redirecting callers in the case of an emergency.
  • Oranga Tamariki–Ministry for Children
    Phone 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459) if you are concerned about a child or young person.
  • Women’s Refuge
    Phone 0800 REFUGE (733 843) or look in the White pages of the phone book for your local refuge.
  • Shine 'Making homes violence free in NZ'
    Free helpline 0508 744 633 provides information to victims of family violence and to those worried about a friend or family member who might be experiencing family violence.
  • National Network of Stopping Violence is a network of community organisations working to end men’s violence to women and children across New Zealand.
    To find your nearest office visit the National Network of Stopping Violence website.
  • Community Law Centres are located throughout the country – look in the White pages of your phone book.
  • Victim Support groups are located throughout the country – look in the White pages of your phone book.