Disturbing trend: sons beat their mothers
Domestic violence in Christchurch has taken a worrying turn as angry teenage boys turn on their own mothers.
Staff at Christchurch Women’s Refuge report a distinct increase in the number of teenage and adolescent boys as the perpetrators of violence in the home.
‘‘It’s a big trend we’ve seen on police domestic violence reports as well,’’ spokeswoman Julie McCloy said. ‘‘It is concerning, definitely.’’
Before the earthquakes, Canterbury had one of the highest domestic violence rates in New Zealand.
As families struggle with housing, finances, and post-quake living conditions, the refuge has been taking more calls than ever.
The stresses affecting adults in Christchurch have in some cases boiled over into the children. Refuge support worker Liz Gash said she had seen boys as young as 14 -years-old lashing out in their homes.
‘‘The kids are dealing with their own stresses, and that’s a factor,’’ she said. ‘‘ In some cases they’re living in overcrowded situations or dealing with ongoing earthquake disruption,’’ Ms Gash said.
But Ms McCloy said it was not the earthquakes making teenagers and men violent.
‘‘What we’re seeing is problems in relationships which have escalated because of this stress.’’
Not all cases of teen violence in the home were earthquake related. Some violent boys came from violent homes.
They may have witness ed domestic violence as a child and, while not in that situation anymore, the damage had been done.
Ms McCloy said it was important for children of any age to get help and support and be part of the refuge process.
Children often absorbed more than adults realised and the experiences could leave lasting marks. The refuge has a programme to help children who had seen violence. It helps them deal with their emotions and rebuild confidence.
‘‘These violent teenagers, they seem to have missed out on that help when they were younger and that behaviour is still there.’’
Child and youth workers were helping the boys deal with their violence issues.
Teenagers were not the sole problem in post-quake Christchurch.
The refuge has seen a 50 per cent increase in calls to its domestic violence hotline (0800 1 REFUGE) and an 85 per cent increase in the number of nights spent in its safe house.
It believed the increased use of the safe house was connected to the post-quake housing shortage which has seen many women struggling to find accommodation.
Since 1973 the refuge has helped more than 25,000 clients.
This month it celebrates 40 years in Christchurch.