The Hollywood stunt double protecting Kiwi women from violence

A New Zealand stunt woman has been helping Kiwi women to protect themselves against violence.

Hollywood actress Zoe Bell is in the country to help host a self-defence class, giving women potentially life-saving skills. 

"If you can avoid a situation at the beginning that would be great, but these techniques are all about disengaging and getting to the point where you can escape."

Zoe Bell doubled Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess and worked with Quentin Tarantino playing the stunt double for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill.

She's used to defending herself on Hollywood film sets, but even she's been out of her comfort zone.  She recalls one night in the US when she was mugged and had her bag stolen.

"These two massive dudes just came running at me," she said.

"[He] grabbed my bag...punched me in the face."

She ran after them and managed to get her bag back, minus the cash, but says it was a terrifying experience.

"It left me really shaken up, like, I cried for about an hour," she says, "And also people expect me to be like 'hi-yah' and take their head off and that was just not my first reaction at all.  I'm used to it being faked, you know, that's the thing, I'm used to missing by like two inches."

On Thursday night she helped raise awareness of violence towards women at a free self-defence class in Auckland ahead of White Ribbon Day.

Over 100 women attended the Reebok Confidence Unleashed event, where they were taught techniques such as blocking and how to get out of shoulder and clothing grabs by SAFE instructor Charlie Riley.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of violence towards women in the world.  One in three will experience violence from a partner in their lifetime. 

Court data shows 6,086 men were charged with assault on a female last year.  But most incidents aren't even reported to police.

"It's not a nice feeling, and it would be awesome if I can do anything to help women avoid that," Ms Bell says.

White Ribbon Day is held annually on November 25.  The campaign aims to end men’s violence towards women by encouraging men to lead by example and talk to other men.