Context is critical to understanding family violence deaths

Published: Wed 26 Sep 2012 10:49 AM
Context is critical to understanding family violence deaths
A new police review stating that children are far more likely to be killed by their mothers than any other group of suspects does nothing to help people understand the dynamics of domestic abuse in New Zealand.
The report is not a comprehensive analysis of family violence incidents, and only comments on information about trends in offending.
According to the review five new born babies (15% of child victims) were killed by women who concealed their pregnancy and killed the baby immediately after birth.
“Understanding the dynamics of a women’s situation when she is pregnant or in a violent relationship can be very difficult,” says Jill Proudfoot, Client Services Director of shine.
“Mothers may hide a pregnancy and kill newborns due to fear and pressure from an abusive partner or because they have been raped in an abusive relationship.”
Police commented on statistics saying that incapable parenting was a factor in a number of the family violence deaths of babies or young children.
“Society needs to understand that women who are in a violent relationship are often too scared to report violent incidents and from that amount of pressure this violence can sometimes flow onto the children from the mother who is being abused,” says Jill.
“It would be convenient if we were able to be horrified by cases we read about from time to time in the newspaper, but reassured that at least this was not happening to anyone we know ourselves. Unfortunately, this is not true. Almost every single person in this country knows one or more people who lived through a terrifying childhood or relationship”.
In 21 per cent of children’s cases and 35 per cent of women’s cases, family and friends were aware of the violence, but did not report it.
Family violence is a New Zealand problem and affects us all and it is especially important that family and friends get involved when they know something is happening.
Where to get help
* If you are in immediate danger, call 111.
* Shine confidential domestic abuse helpline: 0508 744 633 or
* Women's Refuge Crisisline: 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 or
* It's Not OK domestic abuse helpline 0800 456 450.
* You can also contact your local police or Citizens' Advice Bureau for advice.

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