News Navigation

Family Violence Not Bound by Socio-Economic Status

Press Release - Auckland, New Zealand, 18 August 2015

26% of women who live in a home with a household income over $100,000 per year have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner.

1 in 4 women who have completed a university degree or higher (postgraduate degree) have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner.

This week, “IT’S NOT OK” launched a unique campaign to put the spotlight on family violence occurring in high socioeconomic households in New Zealand.

Recently released statistics from the New Zealand Violence Against Women Study revealed that family violence is prevalent in the wealthier suburbs in our communities, which are less often publicised in the media. To raise awareness of this issue, “IT’S NOT OK” partnered with HOME magazine to create something totally unexpected in the pages of a glossy HOME magazine.

Dr. Ang Jury, Chief Executive of Women’s Refuge and partner of “IT’S NOT OK,” says, “We have responded to the needs of millionaires, academics and a great many other highly qualified and educated women. Domestic violence knows no boundaries, and having a chance to highlight this in HOME is a good start.

“Everyone knows that family violence is a serious issue, but most people presume it’s something that affects certain families. But in reality, family violence happens in any New Zealand home, regardless of socioeconomic background. That’s why, in our new issue, HOME is working with “IT’S NOT OK” to remind our readers that family violence can affect any household – and if it does, there’s something all of us can do about it,” says Jeremy Hansen, editor of HOME magazine.

The magazine feature presents itself like any other editorial – an architecturally designed home, found in the wealthy, leafy suburbs and owned by a normal-looking couple. But all is not as it seems. Within the six-page spread are an upturned chair, smashed vases and a blood-smeared banister. The editorial concludes with an important message: Family violence can happen in any home. Last year alone, police made more than 100,000 family violence investigations across the country, in every kind of neighbourhood.

Jill Proudfoot, client services director at anti-violence group Shine, a partner of IT’S NOT OK, says, “I’ve encountered many women living in beautiful homes who were feeling suicidal because they couldn’t see a way to escape the abuse. If their abusive partner holds a position of power in the community, it’s even harder to leave and to be believed. A lot of these women considered leaving their homes to be too great a risk to their family. Their loyalty often makes them put their partner’s reputation ahead of their own safety.

“In contrast, some women I’ve seen from lower socioeconomic areas arrive at a refuge and immediately feel safer. For some, it’s the warmest, nicest home they’ve ever lived in. The issues are different for each group, but the fear and distress are just as real.”

Murray Edridge, Deputy Chief Executive of Community Investment Ministry of Social Development, explains that, in some cases, the signs may be subtle and it won’t always be about broken furniture. It could come in the form of financial abuse or controlling what someone wears, who they see and where they go. 

“Nigella Lawson and Reeva Steenkamp have drawn international attention to the fact the domestic violence can happen to anyone, including millionaire chefs and models, and New Zealand is no different. 

“Domestic violence in its many different forms happens in Remuera, as well as South Auckland, as well as Invercargill, and we all need to take action to stop it when we know it is happening.

“Whatever form it takes, family violence is never OK, but it is OK to ask for help and to offer help,” concludes Edridge.

For more information on this campaign, please visit:




Additional notes:


The New Zealand Violence Against Women study found that of those women who lived in a house with a household income over $100,000 per year, 26% had experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence. Of those women who had completed a university degree or higher (post-graduate degree), 25% had experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence.

The New Zealand Violence Against Women Study was funded by the Health Research Council. The study was conducted in 2003, in Auckland and the Waikato on a representative sample of New Zealand women. The sample was made up of 2,855 women. Only those who had ever been married or lived with a male sexual partner were asked about their experience of intimate partner violence. Janet Fanslow (Associate Professor, University of Auckland) was the Principal Investigator of the New Zealand Violence Against Women Study.

Intimate partner violence refers to any behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological or sexual harm to those in the relationship. Examples of types of behavior are listed below.

- Acts of physical violence, such as slapping, hitting, kicking and beating.

- Sexual violence, including forced sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual coercion.

- Emotional (psychological) abuse, such as insults, belittling, constant humiliation, intimidation (e.g. destroying things), threats of harm, threats to take away children.

- Controlling behaviours, including isolating someone from friends and family; monitoring their movements; and restricting access to financial resources, employment, education or