Surge in violence during recession

The Press 22 June 2009

Christchurch women’s refuges have seen a huge jump in women asking for help as the recession bites and are also concerned that more children are abusing their parents. Battered Women’s Trust manager Lois Herbert said there had been an “extraordinary increase” in the number of community clients women they help who continue to live in the community, rather than going into a safe house. “There’s been a 60 per cent increase in a couple of years that’s huge,” she said. In the year to June, the trust had 360 long-term community clients compared with about 200 in the year to June 2007. Herbert said she believed the jump was due to the the combination of the It’s Not OK campaign and the recession.

“With the economic circumstances, maybe people have lost their jobs. There’s often a feeling of being insecure financially. There’s a lot of stress out there. “We hear about people who lose their jobs and turn to alcohol and drugs.” The increasing demand on the trust’s services had forced it to open a new community office and double the number of community advocates, while calls to the crisis line had also increased dramatically. Herbert said the trust had also noticed more parents being abused by their children. “The number is not large, but it’s definitely increasing. With teenagers, it’s both boys and girls, and there are also cases of children who are even younger.