Family violence is very common in our community, and it is estimated that about 1 in 4 people are affected by family violence.

  • Are you worried about relationships in your family? Every person in a family whatever their age, status or gender deserves to be treated with respect. When blaming, criticising, arguing or withdrawing dominate family relationships get damaged.

  • Are you or other family members scared or frightened? Are you at risk? Sometimes it's hard to know how serious things are getting. If you are scared or frightened about being hurt, then it is already serious.

  • Are you worried about your own behaviour? If family members show fear of you, find you hard to talk to or feel they have to do what you want them to, you might need to consider changing your behaviour.

Violence exists in silence, and people who are in violent relationships are often reluctant to speak out or ask for help. Adults affected by family violence feel a lot of shame whether they are being violent or being hurt.

Whether you are in a long-term or casual relationship, you deserve to be treated well and ensure that you are treating your partner respectfully.

Take this quiz to see how healthy your relationship is.


There are many great programmes and services to help people understand their behaviour, and learn new skills to build positive healthy relationships.


People who have stopped using violence say the hardest part is admitting they needed help to change their behaviour. Changing your behaviour takes courage but brings lifelong rewards.

If your family is scared of you, or if people tell you that your behaviour is frightening, you might need to consider making changes to the way you behave.

Change is possible, it takes courage, effort and determination. There are services all over New Zealand that offer programmes and support for you to learn new ways of behaving.

These agencies run programmes and support people address their own use of violence and develop ways of being violence free:

  • A 3 Kaitiaki Ltd.  deliver programmes within a Kaupapa Maori environment  for individuals and whanau looking to positively change their lives.
  • Stopping Violence Dunedin run group and individual programmes for men and women who want to change their beliefs & behaviours.
  • Te Roopu Tautoko Ki Te Tonga run the Te Puna Manawa programme which is a violence education programme designed under a Conceptual Maori Framework for Maori men. 
  • Youthline Otago provide community support for people of all ages who are wanting to stop being violent.

No-one should be frightened or scared by a member of their family. No matter what your age or sex, it's never OK for your partner or any member of your family to use violence to hurt or control you.

If you, or someone in your family are in danger, you need to call 111 and ask for the police.

If you are experiencing violence, tell someone. It could be a friend, family member, workmate, teacher or carer, employer or health professional, or family violence prevention service.

The Women's Refuge has information on developing a safety plan.

These organisations offer 24-hour support and advice for victims of violence and abuse:

  • Te Whare Pounamu Dunedin Women's Refuge provide help for all women & children experiencing family violence including crisis line, emergency safe housing, education & support.
  • Shakti provide support services for women, children & family of Asian, African & Middle Eastern origin.
  • Dunedin Rape Crisis support female survivors of sexual violence progress towards healing, and education programmes about the effects of sexual violence.
  • Victim Support assist people affected by crime & trauma by providing advocacy, support & information.
  • Youthline Otago provide community support for people of all ages by providing support, counselling, education& facilitation

Everyone has the right to feel safe in their family, in their neighbourhood, at school and at work. Unfortunately many young people are affected by violence at home, at school, in their peer groups and dating relationships.

If you are being affected by violence, there are people you can talk to.

You may be able to talk to a relative, parents of a friend, a neighbour or sports coach.
If you are at school you could talk to a teacher or guidance counselor.

The following agencies specifically work with youth in the Dunedin community

  • Adventure Development provide counseling & skill development for young people who are experiencing difficulties including alcohol and drug issues.
  • RockSolid run programmes for youth and families as well as community & family support.
  • Mirror Counselling Mirror offers counselling & treatment programmes for children, young people & their whanau.
  • Youthline Otago provide community support for people of all ages, focused on the needs of youth by providing support, counselling, education& facilitation.

Family violence affects people from all cultures and social backgrounds. In Dunedin we have several kaupapa Maori agencies. These agencies have expertise and experience in working with Māori whānau, hapū and iwi:

  • Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora support whanau using an integrated and collaborative approach to service provision in partnership with whānau and other organisations.
  • A3 Kaitiaki Ltd deliver programmes within a Kaupapa Maori environment  for individuals and whanau looking to positively change their lives.
  • Te Roopu Tautoko Ki Te Tonga are a Maori Health Provider that provides community–based health and social services that are conducive to meeting the needs of Maori.
  • Te Whare Pounamu provide help for all women and children experiencing domestic violence including crisis line, emergency safe housing, education and support.

In Aotearoa/New Zealand we welcome people from different countries and cultures, however violence and abuse are not justified by tradition, culture or religion.

Violence and abuse that happens in the home is treated no differently than violence that might happen on the street.

The Its not OK campaign has produced resources for migrant families and in different languages that can be accessed here.

  • Pacific Trust Otago provides education, social, health and advocacy services to all Pasefika communities and people within Otago.
  • Samoan Advisory Council provide information and support for Samoan families residing in Dunedin as well as Samoan language and cultural classes.
  • Shakti provides culturally competent support services for women, children and families of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin.

Becoming a parent is an amazing experience. It can also be really stressful and overwhelming. Fortunately, there are lots of services and programmes that offer support and education on how to be a great parent.

Being a parent may be the most important thing you ever do, and how you raise your children will influence how they raise their children. The following services can help you learn to be the parent that you want to be:

  • Anglican Family Care  helps families to identify their own strengths and resources in times of difficulty and stress to achieve positive outcomes.
  • Barnardos Otago provide support for children, parents, families and communities by providing counselling, parenting courses and family support.
  • Catholic Social Services provide counselling, social work support and parenting assistance to individuals and families irrespective of religious beliefs or ability to pay.
  • Dunedin Methodist Mission provide advocacy & support for adults, children & their families, and The Hub, a place for parents with children up to six-years.
  • Familyworks provide family and social work, advocacy, budget advice, counselling, group support and parenting programmes, mentoring and youth transition programmes.
  • Plunket provides support services for the development, health and well-being of children under five.
  • Pregnancy Help Otago provides free and client-focused practical assistance, information and advice during pregnancy and early childhood.
  • Parent Help we offer a parenting helpline in New Zealand that is available 24 hours a day – seven days a week. 

It's not OK for children and young people to experience violence whether they are victims or witnesses.

Research shows that violence in the home affects children whether they see it, hear it or just know about it. Child abuse is most often linked to partner abuse.
Violence makes it harder for children to grow up and lead normal lives - harder for them to make friends, to learn, stay healthy and be happy. The effects of violence can last a lifetime.

It's important to remember that children need adults to keep them safe, and we all have a role to play in this. If you are worried about a child you know - don't ignore it. Don't be afraid to offend an adult if it means helping a child.

There are specialist services who are able to work with children and families who have experienced family violence:

  • Te Whare Pounamu Tamariki Programme offers education groups for children and adolescents who have experienced family violence.
  • Mirror counselling offers counselling & treatment programmes for children, young people & their whanau.
  • Chatbus is a free, mobile counselling service, for children under 14 years, operating in Dunedin.
  • Youthline Otago provide community support for people of all ages by providing support, counselling, education& facilitation

Alcohol and other drugs are never an excuse for violence, many people who have alcohol problems do not abuse their partners, and many offenders are sober when they abuse their partners.

Alcohol can, however, increase the risk of a situation escalating into physical violence.

Some victims of abuse may use alcohol or drugs thinking that they may ease the problems of their violent relationship. This can make it much harder for them to get the help they need for themselves and their children.

Alcohol and drug abuse can cause major problems for a family, and prevent adults from being effective parents. Parental alcohol abuse can increase child abuse, neglect and injury. It can lead to the child developing substance abuse and violence problems.

Other addictions can cause a great deal of stress and financial hardship in the family, and these stresses can prevent you from being the parent and partner that you want to be.
There are some really good programmes and support to help you control your drinking and other addictions:

  • Alcohol Drug Helpline provide resources for people who have experienced some issues with their drinking and are toying with the idea of making some changes.
  • Salvation Army offers the opportunity to evaluate alcohol or drug use and explore ways to bring things under control again.
  • Community Alcohol & Drug service provide a community-based service with a multidisciplinary team that provides assessment and outpatient treatment, including counselling and groups, for adults with moderate-to-severe substance use disorders.
  • Dunedin Homebased Detox service is a free, home-based service that helps people break the cycle of alcohol and other drug use.

Financial difficulties should never prevent you from getting the help you need.  Most of the agencies that are part of Dunedin Collaboration Against Family Violence offer some services for free or at reduced rates.  If they are not able to provide services, they will find someone who you can talk to.

Financial stress and worries about money can put a strain on relationships but are never an excuse for violence, as many people who have financial stress do not abuse their partners.

Financial abuse can also result in victims living in poverty, can't rent a flat, and get the power or phone connected, because previous bills were unpaid or because they have a bad credit record. 

Once you get your finances sorted, you may be more relaxed and better able to develop happy and healthy relationships.  These services and agencies may be able to help:

  • Dunedin Budget Advisory Service provides a free, confidential service, helping people to manage their household budgets. 
  • Salvation Army provide free consultation and interventions for gamblers and their partners, affected family members and others affected by problem gambling.
  • Dunedin Community Law Centre provide lawyers and advocates that can give free initial legal help so you can deal with your legal problem quickly.


Some experience of mental illness is common as 1 in 5 people in New Zealand have experienced anxiety and mood disorders in the last year.

People who have been affected by family violence are much more likely to be affected by depression, anxiety and other mental illness.  Furthermore, people who are affected by mental illness are more likely to be victims of family violence.

Although depression and anxiety are never an excuse for violence as many people suffer from mental illness are not violent, depression and anxiety can make the violence worse.  It can prevent you from making good decisions and getting the help you need.

Fortunately, there are lots of services in our community to help you build and protect positive mental health:

  • The National Depression Initiative aims to help New Zealanders recognise and understand depression. It encourages people to seek appropriate help and offers resources for health professionals treating people experiencing depression.
  • The Emergency Psychiatric Service is a mobile 24-hour, 7-day a week service providing emergency services to people with acute mental health needs. 
  • Supporting Families Otago offers a wide variety of services to families/whanau of those suffering from mental illness.
  • The Ashburn Psychiatric Health Centre provides inpatient, day patient and outpatient mental health services.  
  • Youthline Otago provide community support for people of all ages by providing support, counselling, education& facilitation
  • The Otago Mental Health Support Trust provide peer support, advocacy, education and information for people 18 years old and over with experience of mental illness