Customers & domestic violence

Responding to Vulnerable Customers DVFREE | Stop Domestic Violence

meeting the needs of customers experiencing domestic violence

Customers experiencing domestic violence are made vulnerable by the controlling and abusive behaviour of their intimate partner or ex-partner, or in some instances, by a family member, or someone else with whom they share a household or a close, personal relationship. Controlling behaviours used by abusive partners almost always include some form of financial control or abuse. 

Often the most difficult aspect of escaping an abusive partner is overcoming barriers to financial independence and stability. We have heard countless stories from Shine clients who have struggled to become independent from an abusive partner or spouse, dealing with financial institutions which failed to take their circumstances into consideration, or which responded in a way that exacerbated their situation or put them in greater danger. 

Financial institutions can help customers experiencing domestic violence in many ways, for example, by:
  • Maintaining their privacy, especially to keep their details private from an abusive (ex) partner or (ex) spouse (NOTE: Under the new Privacy Act, which goes into force December 1st 2020, privacy breaches that are likely to cause serious harm must be reported to the Privacy Commissioner’s office and any affected persons must be notified – or face a fine of up to $10,000. One such data breach would be sharing a customer’s contact details with their abusive ex-partner, who may be a joint account holder. So it is more important than ever to ensure your systems and processes are set up to prevent these kinds of breaches.  
  • Providing information and assistance for the customer to separate joint funds and accounts from their partner, and move towards having sole control over their own funds and accounts
  • Deferring debt or mortgage loan repayments when someone is in difficult financial circumstances as a result of domestic violence
  • Having flexible processes for meeting legal requirements around opening new accounts for customers who do not have ID or a permanent address for some period of time due to domestic violence
  • Providing information about specialist domestic violence support such as Shine's Helpline, and information about free budgeting and financial capability advice such as the MoneyTalks helpline
  • Screening messages on online payment systems, and blocking customers from using bank apps and online banking if they are used to abuse someone.

Financial institutions and other businesses not only need the right policies and procedures, they also need staff prepared and trained to respond sensitively and safely to customers experiencing domestic violence. This is likely to mean a basic level of training for all customer-facing staff, and a more in-depth training for a smaller group of staff who specialise in working with vulnerable customers.

Because of their situation, customers experiencing domestic violence are likely to be extremely stressed, often fearing for the physical safety of themselves and their children. They may be sleep-deprived, suffer from head injuries, have substance use issues or mental health issue like depression and anxiety, and be in a hypervigilant state. This may impact on their ability to think and communicate clearly, remember information, deal with conflict or frustration, make decisions, etc. 

Finally, it is very helpful for businesses to understand that domestic violence is not only a customer issue, it is also an issue that affects their employees. Building an organisational culture of inclusion and diversity, and providing a safe and healthy workplace, both require ensuring that staff affected by domestic violence are safe and supported at work. Having the right policies and procedures, awareness for all staff, and training for key staff can achieve these goals and help build a strong foundation for improving responsiveness to vulnerable customers affected by domestic violence.

We are deeply encouraged that a number of major NZ financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies have been taking concrete steps to improve their responsiveness to people  - both employees and customers - who experience domestic violence. See financial institutions that have been awarded the DVFREE Tick here.

See TV1 News story here.

how can Shine help?

1. We can help your business create a workplace that is safe and supportive for your staff affected by domestic violence with our DVFREE workplace programme and the DVFREE Tick accreditation.  Following our recommendations for your workplace response to domestic violence will lay important groundwork for improving your responsiveness to customers affected by domestic violence.

2. We can provide consultation on policy and other domestic violence related issues. We can help you think through sticky issues such as customer confidentiality, while helping you to ensure that the language you use is clear, respectful, sensitive and non-stigmatising. 

3. Shine offers domestic violence training and awareness raising for a range of audiences. Our DVFREE programme in particular has a strong reputation in the business sector for delivering domestic violence training that is relevant, practical and highly engaging. We developed a free workplace online learning module in partnership with Westpac, and we have supported a handful of organisations in developing their own inhouse learning modules. Read about our DVFREE training team here. 

4. Shine’s Helpline is a service that can provide domestic violence related support, information, advocacy, and referrals to local services. The Helpline is available to provide direct support for people affected by domestic violence, as well as support and guidance for people who want to help someone they know – whether that person is a customer, an employee, a patient, neighbour, family member or friend. You can order free Helpline resources from Shine’s webshop including posters, pamphlets and wallet-size cards.

Shine is a leading specialist domestic violence organisation, providing a range of effective, practical services to stop domestic violence, support victims and reform those using violence. Thousands of adult and child victims are supported every year to become safe and stay safe. Shine also delivers training programmes to a wide range of audiences, utilizing our expertise based on decades of experience working with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.

Shine training programmes range from brief awareness-raising sessions to intensive one or two-day training workshops. This includes training delivered through DVFREE™, Shine in School, and, for the Ministry of Health, we train and  accredit District Health Board trainers to train on family violence and child abuse intervention.

Read more about Shine

Our DVFREE & business training Team

Holly Carrington
DVFREE & Policy Advisor

Holly Carrington is Shine's DVFREE & Policy Advisor, based in Wellington since April 2018. She has led the development of the DVFREE programme in since 2016, including creating the DVFREE Tick workplace accreditation and DVFREE Guidelines on Policy & Procedures. She was previously Shine's Communications & Marketing Manager and prior to that Partnerships & Training Director. She joined Shine in 2000 and was part of the senior leadership team from 2003. Since 2000, she has delivered domestic violence training - including to judges, police, corporates, and many others; researched and written Shine policy submissions; and been a media spokesperson on tv, print and radio. Her early Shine experience includes advocacy for domestic violence victims and facilitating for Shine's non-violence programme. Holly was a Trustee for Auckland Sexual Abuse HELP from 2011-2014. In 2020, Holly was a 2020 Westpac Women of Influence Community Hero Award finalist. Holly previously worked in fundraising, advocacy, and community development with various not-for-profits in her native California.

Margaret Fitzgibbon

Margaret Fitzgibbon has been a DVFREE Coordinator and Senior Trainer for Shine since June 2019. Margaret has over 20 years of experience working in not-for-profit organisations as a trainer and coach for adult learners. Her various roles have involved the building of capacity of families; programme management and community development, and community consultation and integration. Throughout these roles she has worked directly with families experiencing domestic violence, and has recognized that education is a vital part of a multi-faceted community approach to create violence-free communities. Previously, Margaret worked for HIPPY (Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters) for 17 years, most recently as a Manager for Great Potentials Foundation/HIPPY NZ, training, supporting and advising 41 HIPPY Site Coordinators throughout New Zealand. During this time she developed a comprehensive training package for HIPPY NZ and completed a Graduate Diploma in Higher Education.

Jacki Rowles
DVFREE Coordinator & Senior Trainer

Jacki is a Senior Trainer for DVFREE and Shine since March 2020. She has worked extensively in the area of family violence, as well as restorative justice, counselling, group facilitation and coaching. Jacki spent eight years at North Harbour Living Without Violence, in clinical and counselling roles working with women and children who experienced domestic violence, including as the Children’s Programme Coordinator, as well as working with women who used violence against their partners. Jacki has also worked for a number of years with corporates as a Trainer and Executive Coach providing personal and professional development programmes through the Institute of Management New Zealand (IMNZ), and as a coach for Massey University MBA students. During this time she became New Zealand’s locally qualified Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness trainer of the Google-born ‘Search Inside Yourself’ Programme. She has an undergraduate degree in Education and a Masters Degree in Art Therapy.

Jill Proudfoot
Senior Trainer

Jill Proudfoot is a Senior Trainer for Shine. She retired in June 2018 after working for Shine since 2001, and for the last nine years as Shine Client Services Manager. She now delivers training on behalf of Shine as a contractor. She started working for Shine in frontline roles including work with adult victims, child victims, and men who used violence against their partners and family. Over the years, Jill has delivered family violence training to a range of audiences including judiciary, police, doctors, social workers, etc. and has presented at many conferences and seminars. Jill was part of Shine’s Senior Management Team from 2008 when she began overseeing all frontline services in the role of Client Services Manager. As Shine’s primary media spokesperson, Jill was frequently interviewed and quoted by print, radio and television media. She was a member of the Starship Child and Youth Mortality Review Group 2010-18, and was a member of the Ministry of Social Development Expert Design Group working on the Capability Framework for the Sexual Violence and Family & Whanau Violence workforce. She has a Bachelor of Social Practice majoring in counselling.

Bronwyn Kerr
DVFREE Trainer

Tēnā rawa atu koutou katoa.
Nō Ingarangi, nō Koterangi hoki ōku tūpuna,
Kei te rohe o Muaūpoko i tipu ake ai au,
Ināianei kei te rohe o Te Āti Awa, i te Ūpoko o te Ika, e noho ana,
Ko Bronwyn Kerr tōku ingoa

Bronwyn Kerr is a DVFREE Trainer, based in Wellington. Bronwyn has worked around the issues of domestic and sexual violence for over 10 years, including crisis work, facilitating healing programs, and in restorative justice. She has been involved in community training programmes on the issue of domestic violence for most of that time, including training Women's Refuge volunteers, and up-skilling faith leaders to respond better to abuse issues within their communities. Bronwyn also runs Te Tiriti o Waitangi workshops, and is passionate about addressing colonisation as an underlying form of violence. Bronwyn holds language qualifications from Chinese universities, a Masters in Social Work, and postgraduate diplomas in Business Studies, te reo Māori and Kaitiakitanga (bicultural supervision).

Rachel Williamson
DVFREE Trainer

Rachel Williamson is a DVFREE Trainer, based in Christchurch. She has a long association with Shine, dating from 2005 when she volunteered as an advocate working with domestic violence victims, before becoming an employee. In her staff role, she worked with Shine advocates to produce research reports and other written information for Shine clients and external audiences. Since then, she has also worked as an English and Media Studies teacher in a number of secondary schools and been an external examiner for NCEA. She has also been a tutor, guest-lecturer, and marker at tertiary level. Rachel holds a postgraduate diploma in secondary teaching, a Masters degree in English and Women's Studies, and is currently undertaking her PhD. She has presented her research at international conferences and has a forthcoming book chapter in an academic collection.