Crime statistics 'lacking'
The number of women seeking help after being physically or emotionally abused in Marlborough has more than doubled in the past 10 years.
Women's Refuges are experiencing an influx of women and children looking for help after being the victims of domestic violence, but those figures weren't included in national police crime statistics issued on Tuesday.
Marlborough Women's Refuge manager Rachel Black said the way police recorded domestic violence did not give an accurate portrayal of how much violence was happening within homes.
More information on domestic violence needed to be collected and entered on a national database, she said. "It gives us a picture of what is happening in our country. People need to know."
The number of women and children going to the Marlborough refuge had been steadily rising in the 12 years she had been there, she said. When she started in 2002, about 300 women and children visited the refuge every year.
Last year, 672 women and children went to the central Blenheim centre, while a further 321 had already sought help in the first three months of this year.
In Marlborough, there had been an increase in psychological violence, including emotional abuse, isolation and constant put-downs. Sexual violence had also risen, Black said.
However, those figures were not collated by police, making it hard to track domestic violence across the country.
New Zealand Women's Refuge spokeswoman Keri Hannifin said it was disappointing national crime stats failed to give reliable or useable information about domestic violence.
"What we are seeing today is a picture of crime in New Zealand that does not adequately include one of the most serious, insidious and under-reported problems in our society," she said.
Marlborough area commander Inspector Simon Feltham said crime was recorded under the type of offence, rather than under an umbrella of domestic violence, he said. Not all calls to domestic disputes resulted in a crime being committed, he said.
Sergeant Mike Porter said more people in Marlborough had reported domestic violence in the past year. An increasing number of neighbours, family members and friends were reporting suspected cases of violence in homes, he said.
Black said the most common age group to seek help was women between 20 and 30, however, more and more younger women had been coming to the refuge in the past two to three years. "We're having a lot of 15 to 20-year-olds coming in now," she said. "We didn't used to see those ages."
She attributed the rise in people seeking help partly to an increase in awareness about domestic violence and services available in the community, such as Marlborough Violence Intervention Project, and the It's Not OK campaign.
Visitors to Marlborough Women's Refuge:
2013: Women 302 Children 370
2014 – Jan to March 31: Women 156 Children 165
The Marlborough Express