New women's refuge opens in Auckland on Valentine's Day to raise awareness of family violence

A new women's refuge was opened in Auckland on Wednesday, with the hope all women and children will be "safe, every day".  

Women's Refuge Tāmaki Makaurau opened the centre on Valentine's Day to raise awareness of family and intimate partner violence.  

They said the date is "no accident" as the organisation continues to try to support women and children.  

"I wish there was not any violence in this country, we wouldn't be needed, and I'd be out of a job," manager of Women's Refuge Tāmaki Makaurau Linda Thompson said. 

"However, with an average of 71 crisis calls in New Zealand a day, that's just not the case. We will continue to spread awareness and educate Kiwis about domestic violence, and we will be a sanctuary for survivors."  

In New Zealand, nearly half of all homicides and reported violent crimes relate to family violence, according to a report from the Ministry of Justice.  

Women's Refuge Tāmaki Makaurau says they offer the same services as all the other refuges around the country including a 24/7 crisis line, community clients and Whanau Protect. 

But on top of all that, the refuge also offers practical assistance, which helps survivors navigate legal processes such an obtaining restraining orders, accessing legal aid, and securing housing.

"We know that reaching out is not easy, and some of the women who will contact us don't want to end their relationships, they just want the violence to stop," Thompson said.  

"We will be here to help in any way you need us, and all our services are free and confidential. If you need support, please reach out."  

Often survivors have been isolated and financially controlled by their abusers, making it incredibly challenging for them to escape the cycle of violence.

To overcome this, Thompson says Women's Refuges around the country work tirelessly to connect survivors with the resources they need, empowering them to become self-sufficient.

But she stressed Women's Refuge Tāmaki Makaurau cannot do this work alone saying they rely on the support of the community. 

The new refuge needs donations of new phones and chargers, food vouchers from supermarkets, non-perishable food items, toiletries, new children's clothes, underwear, and socks. 

"To mitigate the violence in Aotearoa, we are setting out to educate all people in this country about the various types of abuse including physical and mental. The Women's Refuge regularly advocates for policy change and need the help of the community with this too. The community can read more on our website about ways to support survivors through advocating for policy change," Thompson said. 

"If you or someone you know is suffering at the hands of domestic violence, please get in touch. We are here for you, and we will help you."