Tuesday, 13 December 2011 - 3:11pm |

A violent-free Christmas is the best gift

2 min read

Christmas is anything but festive for some families as the stresses of the season, combined in many cases with alcohol, take their toll.

Traditionally the police see an increase in the number of calls to family violence incidents throughout December and January so Central District Police are appealing to all families to plan, stay calm and take care of one another.

Family Violence Coordinator for Central District Police, Maree Rooney-Duindam said: "For many, Christmas is a time of fear and apprehension. There can be a real strain on relationships as families try to manage the expectations of the holidays; the food the presents, the bills.

"The material things shouldn't matter, what matters is the opportunity to spend quality time together, have fun, celebrate and share in the spirit of the occasion. The best present many women, men and children could ask for is a violent-free Christmas."

Nationally, the police respond to a family violence incident every 6 minutes. On average, 14 women, 6 men and 10 children are killed by a member of their family every year. About half of all murders in New Zealand are family violence related.

Police in Central District attend on average 722 calls to attend reports of family violence per month; approximately 24 incidents per day.

Anyone finding themselves in a family violence situation where they feel threatened for their immediate safety or a member of the public is aware of a family violence situation unfolding, they should ring police immediately.

There are also a wide range of other support services available through the national campaign's helpline - "It is OK to Ask for Help" on 0800 456 450. An alternative is calling your local Women's Refuge on 0800 733 843.

• Planning is the key, especially when there are different family groups involved or where parents of children are separated and there are access issues. Agree social and family arrangements in advance and stick to the agreed plans. Make sure children get to spend quality time with both parents if there is shared custody.
• Don't spend what you can't afford. Work out what you need to buy for Christmas and what bills you need to cover and set that money aside.
• If you are finding the whole idea of Christmas too stressful talk to a friend or someone else that you can trust.
• Think of the children. Don't let them grow up with memories of Christmas tarnished with violence.
• Go easy on the alcohol. If you are drinking make sure you have equal amounts of water or non-alcoholic drinks.
• If an argument starts to brew, take a deep breath and walk away. Time out to let everyone calm down and if necessary sober up.
• If you have real concerns for your safety or the safety of your children contact the police.

Media enquiries should be referred to Communications Manager Kim Perks on 027 234 8256.