Introduction to Domestic Abuse

Did you know?.. 

  • In 2017, NZ Police attend 118,923 family violence incidents - an average of one every four minutes (NZ Police, 2017 statistics)
  • 1 in 3 women experience physical and/or sexual abuse from a male (ex)partner in their lifetime. Most of these women who experienced partner violence also had dependent children. (Fanslow et al, 2019)
  • A child is killed every 5 1/2 weeks by a member of their own family (NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse data)


  • 76% of family violence incidents are NOT reported to Police (NZ Crime and Safety Survey 2014).

For more statistical information on domestic abuse go to: 

Within a relationship, disagreements and arguments do occur – this is normal. It is not normal for one partner to feel threatened, too frightened to argue back, or unsafe to disagree or express their opinion. 

The Police call it family violence, the Family Court calls it domestic abuse. Sometimes it is called men’s violence against women or wife bashing. Most violence in private is intimate partner violence. Whatever you call it, the reality is that it is extremely common in New Zealand. No one deserves to be abused. It is never okay. 

Here’s how we define it 

  • Domestic abuse is when one person in a relationship uses different ways to gain power and control over the other. Abuse is behaviour that physically harms, causes fear, prevents a person from doing what they want, or forces them to behave in ways they do not freely choose. 
  • Domestic abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional and psychological, financial, or spiritual. Many victims say that the emotional and psychological abuse is just as bad if not worse than the physical abuse and that it is harder to recover from. 
  • Domestic abuse can happen in any family or intimate partner relationship. It can happen to anyone, regardless of his or her social group, background, race, class, gender, religion, age, ability or disability, sexual orientation or lifestyle. Women are overwhelmingly the victims of most serious domestic abuse, but sometimes men are the victims too. Men are usually the perpetrators of the most serious domestic abuse, but sometimes women are perpetrators too. In New Zealand, domestic abuse happens to people of all ethnicities, cultures, ages, sexual identities, and socioeconomic groups. 

The Power and Control Wheel

Below is the Power and Control Wheel. It shows the most common forms of abuse are used to control intimate partners. The wheel was put together in the 1980s by women and children in Duluth, Minnesota, USA. Domestic abuse workers asked them to describe the most common ways they were being abused. The wheel is now used all around the world to help abused people understand what is happening to them, and to help people understand domestic abuse. 

The Power and Control Wheel shows that physical violence is rarely used alone; it is often used together with sexual violence and emotional, psychological and financial abuse. 

The Equality Wheel

The Equality Wheel following shows what a healthy relationship looks like.

“This is by no means an easy job, with the volunteers having to face very sensitive situations head on. Shine’s volunteers get a chance to make a real difference in the lives of people affected by domestic violence.”

Click here to chat with one of our Helpline team