02:33pm Thursday 09 April 2020

Emotional violence rife in Kiwi relationships

The paper entitled “Sticks, Stones, or Words? Counting the Prevalence of Different Types of Intimate Partner Violence Reported by New Zealand Women” published online in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma documents the lifetime prevalence, 12-month prevalence, and overlap of psychological, physical, and sexual intimate partner violence reported by New Zealand women.

The study examined previously unreported data from the New Zealand Violence against Women Study. Findings showed over half (55%) of women who had ever had a partner had experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetime; and a third had experienced more than one type of violence (usually psychological violence and physical and/or sexual violence).

Data also showed a correlation between partner’s use of controlling behaviours, such as restrictions on women’s access to family, friends or healthcare and partner’s use of physical or sexual violence.

Dr Janet Fanslow, Senior Lecturer in Social and Community Health in the Faculty of Medical Health Sciences says: “It is clear that significant numbers of New Zealand women have experienced violence from a partner in their lifetime and for the majority this involves multiple types and multiple acts of violence.

“Psychological violence,” she says “merits particular attention in primary prevention programmes. It is widespread and can affect women’s health even when it does not co-occur with physical or sexual violence. Responding to this is costing us a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of capability because people have to spend so much time picking up the pieces of their lives.”

On a positive note, in comparison to international studies, the results showed that New Zealand has one of the biggest drops between lifetime experiences of violence and twelve month prevalence.

“We think this is because we have better laws, protection orders and supports compared to other countries, so that even though violence is really likely to happen, you don’t have to stay in the violent situation. But any lifetime exposure can have longterm consequences. So the primary prevention message needs to be about promoting healthy relationships, in the first place.”

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