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Floods leave wake of family violence

Filed under: Domestic Violence — domviol @ 4:52 pm Sat 21st August 2004

Police in Whakatane have detected an upsurge in family violence as a flow-on effect of the region’s floods.

Community Sergeant Neil Peterson said yesterday that reported family violence had doubled during the weeks since the July flooding.

“We average five to six incidents each week but there is obviously a lot of stress and frustration out there in the community,” Mr Peterson said.

“There are lots of different types of family violence and it is not always partners fighting. Some cases have involved mothers and daughters or even extended family members.”

As family violence co-ordinator, Mr Peterson said meetings had been arranged with both Victim Support and Women’s Refuge in an attempt to address the situation.

“We are not saying all the violence has come as a result of the floods but there are many people with both accommodation and financial problems.”

He said at least seven of the families affected by violence lived in flooded areas.

Women’s Refuge volunteer Winnie Te Are said stress and fear manifested themselves in a number of ways and family violence was one of the consequences.

“The Eastern Bay of Plenty refuge house is bursting at the seams and we are experiencing at least triple the amount of people seeking help at either the office or through the helpline.”

Mrs Te Are said once the floodwaters had receded people had been forced to face fears of both the immediate and long-term future.

“If there were problems prior to the flooding, they have become exaggerated.

“There are many people who feel they cannot cope.”

Victim Support co-ordinator Jenny Thomas said her volunteer staff had been extremely busy.

“The forms of abuse have been many, including physical and verbal, and it is occurring not just between men and women but also fathers and sons and extended family members.”

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