There is no one-size-fits-all solution to family violence, says Family Works – Presbyterian Support Central’s social service arm that works to tackle the growing problem of family violence in New Zealand.
The message comes as New Zealand celebrates White Ribbon Day [Saturday 25 November 2017] – an international campaign is aimed at ending men’s violence against women.
“Domestic violence hurts children and adults in different and highly personal ways,” says Family Works Central practice development manager Nici Nixon.
“Most obviously it can hurt them physically, but it can be psychological in nature too – eating away at a person’s sense of self is just as damaging.”
Family Works believes to tackle family violence, communities and the agencies supporting people who have experienced family violence must place children at the centre and then focus on the whole whānau unit.
“That’s how we work, after all our vision is to make Aotearoa New Zealand the best place in the world to grow up,” says Nici
“A place where all children are safe, families and whānau are strong and communities are connected.”
In New Zealand, police are called out to a family violence incident every 5 ½ minutes and half of all homicides stem from family violence.
But Family Works believes their goal is achievable if the approach is flexible and individual to those involved.
“Each family’s challenges are unique and so they require individual, tailored approaches to put an end to violence in their homes.”
Nici says campaigns, like White Ribbon, are important because they get people talking about the sensitive topic.
“They really help to start a conversation around family violence and bring the issue to the fore. We need to talk about it in helpful and constructive ways,” says Nici.
“Sadly, people who have experienced family violence, particularly children, can suffer further from the stigma that others attach to it.”
Some of the services Family Works offers as part of this approach include group support programmes for people who have experienced family violence , social work and advocacy, parenting education programmes, mentoring and counselling.
Family Works Central operates the evidence-based Te Ara Whānau, Family Solutions model when working with families and whānau facing significant and complex challenges, including family violence. This means the multi-disciplinary Family Works Central team work with the family and whānau to work out what help and support is needed, and to build on existing strengths and resources. Support is usually intensive at first, reducing over time to match the needs of the whānau.