‘Half of women’ tell of emotional violence

NZ Herald 14 Nov 2011
A family violence expert is calling for a national discussion about relationships after finding that more than half of New Zealand women have suffered psychological and emotional violence from their partners. NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse co-director Dr Janet Fanslow found 51.5 per cent of a sample of 2700 Auckland and Waikato women have been subjected to emotional violence by a current or previous partner, including 17 per cent within the past year. Twenty-seven per cent said their current or most recent partners had also tried to control them through behaviours such as always wanting to know where they were.

She asked Kiwi women the same questions as in a 2005 World Health Organisation study of 10 countries, where women reporting physical violence from partners ranged from 13 per cent in Japan to 61 per cent in Peru.

As reported in 2004, she found 32 per cent of Kiwi women had suffered physical violence from partners – higher than in Japan or the only other developed nation in the WHO study, Serbia and Montenegro (23 per cent), although lower than the nearest developing nation in the study, Samoa (40.5 per cent). In her paper Sticks, Stones or Words? she says Kiwi women also reported more of all kinds of psychological and emotional violence than women in Japan, Serbia or Samoa. Almost half (46 per cent) said current or previous partners had insulted them or made them feel bad about themselves, 30 per cent had been “belittled or humiliated in front of other people“, 26 per cent said partners had “done things to scare or intimidate [them] on purpose”, and 19 per cent said partners had threatened to hurt them or someone they cared about. Asked about controlling behaviours, 18 per cent said their current or most recent partner “insists on knowing where you are at all times“, 11 per cent said he “ignores or treats you indifferently“, 10 per cent said he “gets angry if you speak to another man“, 9 per cent tried to stop her seeing friends and 5 per cent tried to restrict her family contact.