Feeling unsafe? You’re not alone!

It’s not hard to miss news about stalking, harassment, domestic violence, and worse! It is unsettling to know these things are going on around us and can be extremely frightening if you’re experiencing them for yourself.

If you’re unsure what stalking or harassment is, or whether you are experiencing it firsthand, it is usually defined as persistent and unwanted attention from someone that makes you feel intruded upon and harassed.

Stalking is not a single one-off incident and can include things like hanging around outside your house or work, following you, or continually trying to contact you, leaving you feeling distressed, or even afraid they might harm you.

Harassment is when someone intentionally pesters and intrudes on you, causing fear for your safety or the safety of your family, whānau, friends or even pets. Sometimes the problem can gradually build and can go on for a long period of time, having a lasting impact on your sense of security.

Remember, no one has the right to harass you and you deserve to feel safe in your relationships, home, workplace and community. If you ever need to talk to someone or get advice, see below for who you can contact today.

If you’re feeling unsafe at home, you may be experiencing domestic violence, which is when someone uses coercion, power, fear or intimidation to control someone they are in a close, intimate or household relationship with.

In New Zealand, it is estimated that only 33 per cent of family violence cases are reported (1). Often these are not reported due to isolation and financial control from the abuser. It can feel like there’s no escape from the cycle.

Women’s Refuge is New Zealand’s largest nation-wide organisation that supports and helps women and children experiencing family violence. It is a safe place for them to heal, rebuild their lives and regain their strength.

Women’s Refuges around the country work untiringly to connect survivors with the resources they need and to empower them to become more independent. These refuges also offer practical assistance, helping survivors navigate legal processes such an obtaining protection and parenting orders, accessing legal aid, and securing housing.

“What we want to see is wāhine leave our service in a better situation than when they arrived – stronger, clearer and less vulnerable,” says Linda Thompson, manager at Women’s Refuge.

Thinking about leaving? Here’s some advice from Women’s Refuge:

  • Be proud that you have done whatever you needed to do in order to keep yourself and your children safe. You all deserve to live without fear, shame and anxiety.
  • If you’re considering your options, there is no right or wrong way to feel at this moment. You are likely to be feeling a mix of emotions that change in strength and urgency throughout the day, and over time.
  • There are many things to consider, so try to get clear in your mind before you make your final decision. Talking to someone you trust or people who know about violence against women may help you with the choices you need to make. Do not let the person abusing you know you are thinking of leaving.
  • You can phone a confidential Crisis-line if you want to talk to a Women’s Refuge advocate on 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843.
  • It’s important to make a safety plan, whether you’re choosing to stay for now or leaving the relationship. Please get in touch with your local refuge to discuss making a plan, you can find their contact details here.
  • Know that there are stories from brave women who have found the courage to leave abusive relationships, and been rewarded with peaceful, loving lives. Because around half of all murders committed each year in New Zealand are domestic violence related, many women believe leaving was the best decision they ever made.

Find your local refuge here.

It can be hard to reach out for help, but you are not alone, there are many people and services that can help you get out of the situation you’re in, help others you know, or give you advice. Here are just some of the options:

Women’s Refuge – Contact and support

NZ Police – Advice and Services

Manaaki Tāngata Victim Support

Need to talk?
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP).
Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email [email protected] or online chat.
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO).
Healthline – 0800 611 116

(1) annual-report-2020-2021.pdf (police.govt.nz)

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