Family violence toll 'glaringly big'

Mainstream Nelsonians are not aware of the scale of family violence in the community, says a stop-violence facilitator.

As part of White Ribbon Day, Nelson police erected crosses and laid wreaths in central Nelson yesterday in memory of two women who lost their lives to family violence in the past year.

The public were also invited to bring their own tributes to remember or acknowledge all victims of domestic violence and take the White Ribbon Pledge - to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence towards women.

The event was part of an international effort to raise awareness of the issues society faces with domestic violence.

Ray Marshall, facilitator at Stopping Violence Services Nelson, said in the Nelson Bays area 1736 family violence incidents were reported to police last year.

It was an extraordinary number and more people needed to be aware, Mr Marshall said. "There's the facts and figures. I don't think mainstream New Zealand, mainstream Nelson, are aware of how glaringly big that number is. We've got to look at that and work out ways to deal with it."

Mr Marshall said the day was a silent vigil for the victims of family violence.

"It had a quiet, respectful air to it."

He said local people had dropped off flowers and paid respects, but it had also led to conversations with tourists, who acknowledged the problem of violence in their own countries.

Nationally, the police respond to 244 family violence incidents every day on average.

Last year they attended more than 89,000 family-violence-related incidents and 23 family-violence death investigations were initiated.

Nelson Bays family violence co-ordinator Ian Langridge said the silent vigil recognised that these crimes were often unreported due to the dynamics of domestic situations. Only about 18 to 20 per cent of cases were reported to police.

"We know that a large number of victims are suffering in silence."

The Nelson Mail