Great Night In: Spend the evening at home with the Women's Refuge to help those who can't

Great Night In: Spend the evening at home with the Women's Refuge to help those who can't
Photo credit: Getty Images

*Names have been changed.

There's nothing quite like hunkering down at home on a chilly winter's evening; rugging up in front of a cosy fire, tucking into some takeaways and watching a movie with the whānau.

But for roughly 200 women and children every night across Aotearoa, that's not an experience they're able to enjoy, because the threat of domestic violence has left them too afraid to remain in their own homes.

In these moments the Women's Refuge is often the only saving grace - stepping in to provide a safe place for them to rest their head, a warming meal, security and advice.

But providing this service comes at a cost.

That's why the Women's Refuge is this weekend encouraging Kiwis to participate in its Great Night In - to "stay home for those that can't" and raise funds to protect families in need.

ThreeNow is supporting The Great Night In by running a selection of fan-favourite shows and movies completely ad-free from 5pm on Sunday July 17. 

Kiwis can gift a Safe Night for a woman and her children in need every time they spend $20 - and in return, receive a gift of their own enabling them to enjoy a cosy night in with their nearest and dearest. The more Great Night In treats that are purchased, the more Safe Nights are gifted.

Among the gifts are artisan Whittaker’s chocolates, a six-pack of Garage Project non-alcoholic beer, or a care package from The Warehouse featuring a blanket, candle and book. You can choose as many as you like until the bundles run out! 

Women's Refuge Chief Executive Dr Ang Jury says every Safe Night donated by Kiwis will make a huge difference.

"Kiwis are known around the globe for being kind, and being good at staying at home.

"We are also ashamedly known for having some of the worst rates of family violence in the developed world. With the generous Safe Nights raised from the Great Night In, we will be able to provide support and care for some of the most vulnerable women and children in Aotearoa.

"This July, we're encouraging you to cosy up at home with your whānau and friends with one of the fantastic Great Night In offers, all for a good cause."

The face of Safe Nights, Miranda Harcourt, says she is really looking forward to her Great Night In. 

"After a long, hectic few months I'm really looking forward to a night celebrating whanaungatanga, knowing that by doing this I'm also supporting women and children who need it. Providing a Safe Night for someone really makes a difference, and the more we donate, the more women we can protect from harm."

Women's Refuge have been busier than ever in recent years. Last year alone they fielded nearly 30,000 crisis calls, and referrals for their services have more than doubled in the last four years alone - from 24,000 in 2017 to 50,000 in 2021.

Lillian* knows first-hand just what a difference access to the charity's services can make. She first reached out for their help when she realised she'd become trapped in a cycle of abuse and decided to escape.

Immediately after getting in contact, they provided her with the wraparound support she needed.

"I talked to someone on the phone and they arranged an in-person meeting, got me a lawyer through legal aid, and provided support via phone calls and came to meetings," Lillian told Newshub.

"I hadn't fully realised the extent of the abuse I had been living with… I remember going over my situation with a case worker and her manager and having the big realisation that this was exactly what domestic violence is."

Lillian says taking the step to get in touch with Women's Refuge changed her life, and encourages Kiwis to get behind the Great Night In campaign so they can help more people in similar situations.

"I couldn't have changed the direction of my life without my local Women's Refuge. It's not just for people who need to escape to a safe house, it's way more than that," she said.

"Psychological abuse is sneaky.Supporting an organisation like Women's Refuge, where the advocates are trained in all forms of domestic violence, means more women and children can change their lives to be safer."

Jane* too credits Women's Refuge with saving her life. The victim of psychological and physical abuse by her drug and alcohol-addicted husband, she was in "a very dark place" a few years ago and wasn't sure where to turn for help.

After a particularly violent incident saw her wind up in hospital, Jane was referred to Women's Refuge and had the opportunity to tell them her story.

"Instead of having to explain myself too much, they just understood. I was shown compassion, empathy, understanding - there was no judgement, which I had previously feared, and that had stopped me reaching out sooner," Jane recounts.

She was helped to make an application for a protection order that day, and given access to one of their safe houses. Jane remembers feeling like it was everything she could have hoped for at that point in her life.

"I was welcomed with a sense of ease when I saw my room. It was homely, comfortable, and warm. It was a place to breathe. A place to reflect. A place to plan. Safe."

"I hadn't had a night away from the violence in over 10 years, as I was never allowed to stay anywhere else. It was hard to adjust at first, but slowly I felt like I was in a bubble [where] he couldn't find me."

Jane too urges Kiwis to get behind the Great Night In.

"All women and children have the right to live a life free from violence, but it isn't always easy to leave a bad situation. Women's Refuge operates on partial funding and does a great job of putting every dollar to good use.

"If it wasn't for the help of Women's Refuge, I do believe I would not be alive today."

This year's Great Night In campaign follows on from the success of last year's Safe-Night-a-thon, which raised nearly 13,000 Safe Nights for women and children in need.

Women's Refuge hopes to better that tally this time around, and will be given a helping hand by Contact Energy, who have vowed to match the first 5000 Safe Night donations.

If you are in need of help, you can contact Women's Refuge any time by dialling Crisis Line: 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843. You can also find your local Women's Refuge here

Get behind New Zealand's Great Night In and Gift A Safe Night for someone in need.

This article was created for Women's Refuge.