Christmas season sees spike in demand for domestic abuse service Shine

"Christmas can be a time of cheer and also a time of challenge."
"Christmas can be a time of cheer and also a time of challenge." Photo credit: Getty Images

Christmas is meant to be a wonderful time of year but for some families, it can be anything but.

With the festive season upon us, specialist family violence service Shine is urging people as they do their Christmas shopping or prepare a roast lunch to be mindful of others who may be suffering.

Around this time of year, Shine sees a spike in demand for their services as the risk of family violence increases as financial, family and other pressures ramp up. 

"Christmas can be a time of cheer and also a time of challenge," Presbyterian Support Northern general manager Grenville Hendricks told Newshub.

Shine typically receives 900 calls each month, however, between October and December demand increases. In October this year, Shine received 1500 calls, and in November it received 1700, almost double the average number.

But it's not just victims reaching out. In the last 12 months, Shine has seen the number of self-referrals from men and women jump dramatically. It also had 71 people complete its non-violence programme for those who use violence but want to change their behaviour.

Hendricks said during this time of year simple things like accommodation, the cost of food, phone bills, petrol and gifts for children can become pricier.

"You see in the news a whole lot of instances where the cost of living has had an impact on families… but when you have added stressors around family violence it makes it more complicated," Hendricks said.

"One of the challenges of family violence is often about coercion and control and so controlling the economic finances or access to money is a way that people can actually assert control."

Grenville Hendricks.
Grenville Hendricks. Photo credit: Supplied

Hendricks said Christmas is a good time to think about the thousands of New Zealand families affected by domestic violence. 

"When you think of Christmas time it is both a time of cheer and a time to be appreciative of family and friends and the relationships we have," Hendricks said.

"But it's also a shout-out to be mindful of other people who may not have those simple, wonderful realities that we take often for granted."

Shine is running its 12 days of Christmas appeal until December 25 to help address the increased demand for its services this season. Each day Shine will post on social media different ways that the public can help people fleeing or addressing family violence. Whether that be a hot meal, a new phone or medical appointments.

Shine provides immediate crisis response, including critical care packs to help with emergency situations, safety planning, support with legal aid and counselling, advocacy and safe houses.