Shocking figures reveal 80,000 Kiwi adults offended against by family members

Shocking new figures from the Ministry of Justice reveal almost 80,000 adults were offended against by a family member in 2018 while more than 100,000 experienced "psychological violence".

The Ministry's Offences by Family Members report released on Tuesday highlights that 2 percent of adults (79,000) were subject to one or more offences by a family member in 2018, with Māori adults at greater risk than European adults. 

Offences included in the report include physical assault, sexual assault, harassment, threatening behaviour, property damage and robbery. 

Women were more than twice as likely to report offences and more than three times as likely to report offences by an intimate partner. Separation from a partner was found to be a "key risk factor". One in 10 single adults who had separated from a partner in the last year had experienced an offence by a family member. In 25 percent of offences by intimate partners, the victim said the incident was related to the separation. 

Financial stress was also spotlighted in the report, with it suggesting people who could not afford a non-essential item worth $300 were five times as likely to experience an offence than those who could afford the item. 

The most common factor identified as being related to an offence was an argument, followed by jealousy. Drugs and alcohol were also regularly factors. 

About one-quarter of offences led to victims being injured, with 15 percent receiving medical attention. Police became aware of 32 percent of incidents while 51 percent of victims asked for help from friends and family. 

The psychological impact of family violence was also highlighted by the report. It found 37 percent of victims of offences by family members exhibited moderate to high levels of psychological distress - more than four times the rate of other adults. 

About 104,000 adults who had a partner in the last 12 months had experienced "psychological violence" by an intimate partner. Intimate-partner psychological violence is defined as controlling behaviour, including stopping partners from seeing family members, following them in a frightening manner, or controlling their access to things. 

James Swindells, the manager of research and evaluation at the Ministry of Justice, said: "The report is important because it provides precise, national-level information about violence committed within families."

"It tells us more about the nature of this type of offending and gives those leading

interventions in this area the evidence they need to refine initiatives or develop new ones and to monitor the impact of this work."

The report comes off the back of the 2018 New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey.

The full report, statistics and methodology can be found here.