The prevention of family violence and sexual violence will significantly improve the wellbeing of all women in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Violence against women comes in many different forms and is any pattern of behaviour that is used to gain or maintain power and control over women. It can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, and psychological actions, or threats of actions, that influence and potentially harm another person.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, one-third of women have experienced physical, sexual, or coercive violence from an intimate partner in their lifetimes. This is even higher for wāhine Māori, Pacific women, disabled women, and the rainbow community. Aotearoa New Zealand also has the highest rate of intimate partner violence against women in the OECD. Statistics and research show us that women are more likely than men to experience violence from a partner, including repeat victimisation, and are more likely to experience sexual violence.

The causes for violence against women are complex. The impacts of violence are serious, long-lasting, and often fatal. This is costly to victims, families, communities, and the country, and is acknowledged as a major barrier to gender equality. 

Violence against women can be prevented. Preventing violence against women and girls will be an effective way of ensuring that they are free from violence throughout their lives. Preventing the first incident of violence can go a long way to addressing the costs of violence against women to individuals, families, and society. 

The Ministry’s current work to prevent violence against women and girls: 

The Ministry’s previous work to prevent violence against women and girls:

  • Researched, along with Netsafe, the impacts of digital harm on young people in 2018.
  • Compiled an evidence base on sexual revictimisation in 2011-12 to inform policy and operational work. We presented the high-level findings to the government, and non-government stakeholders. The final report, Lightning Does Strike Twice: preventing sexual revictimisation, summarises key themes from New Zealand and international research literature on the prevalence, nature, and impacts of sexual revictimisation, and promising practices to prevent it.
  • Conducted research between 2007 – 2009 on the ‘effective interventions for adult victim/survivors of sexual violence’. It was, at the time, the first comprehensive piece of research to be conducted on adult sexual violation in New Zealand in the previous three decades. It has influenced policy and practice since published, and has been cited by the Court of Appeal in its review of sentencing guidelines for rape.
  • Assisted in the development of the Domestic Violence Act 1995, a critical piece of legislation for women. The Ministry’s advice widened the original scope of the legislation with the result that police power was strengthened and the provision for the mandatory seizure of firearms in domestic disputes was included. 
  • Supported the 2012 review of the Domestic Violence Act 1995 and provided advice that ‘economic abuse’ be included in the definition of domestic violence contained within the Act. This review led to the Family Violence Act 2018.

Feeling unsafe? These organisations can help you.

If you or someone you know experiences abuse or violence, you have a right to ask for help, and help is available in many places. Services are confidential, and often free. Te Puna Aonui, the joint venture on family violence and sexual violence, provide links and contact information for a range of support services. 

Further information

The New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse is the national centre for collating and disseminating information about domestic and family violence in Aotearoa New Zealand. It provides information and resources for people working towards the elimination of family violence.