COVID-19: People experiencing abuse or violence

What to do if you’re feeling unsafe, who to contact and services to help you.

Last updated: 2 December 2021

Family violence and sexual violence support lines are open for people to call, email or text. 

If you or someone you know is in danger, call 111. 

If you are unable to talk or communicate, then a silent option is available. Call 111, remain silent and then press 55.

Are you feeling unsafe? 

You might feel unsafe because:

  • you are alone a lot of the time  
  • someone you live with frightens you  
  • someone you live with is verbally abusing you, for example, yelling or using unkind words 
  • someone you live with is financially or emotionally abusive, for example, forcing you to give them money or talking to you in a way that makes you feel bad 
  • someone is physically or sexually abusing you, for example, hitting you or touching you without consent 
  • a member of your bubble is preventing you from accessing daily supports.

Abuse like this is never ok.

If you have experienced or are experiencing one or more of these things, or you're afraid they might happen to you because of how someone is acting, please get help. You can call many organisations to talk to about how you feel – see the list at the end of this page. 

What to do if you feel unsafe

The first thing to do if you feel unsafe is to let a trusted person know that you are feeling unsafe – this could be someone within your whānau, a friend, someone from the provider service you use or you can phone one of the agencies listed below. The person that you talk to should support you to be safe. 

Who to contact if you are in immediate danger

Immediate danger means that abuse or violence is happening or about to happen to you. Or you are witnessing abuse or violence about to happen or is happening to another person. 

If you are in immediate danger, you should leave your house and, if possible, go somewhere you feel safe such as a to a neighbour, family or friend’s house.  

You should also phone or text 111 and say what is happening to you so the police can come and help you. If you cannot speak or it’s unsafe to speak, press 55 and the operator will alert the police. 

Police, ambulance and fire services are still operating at all levels and are ready to help you.  

Try to be very clear that you are in immediate danger when you talk with emergency services. 

Services to contact if you feel unsafe or need help 

All support services in Aotearoa New Zealand know that disabled people might need assistance during COVID-19. Some organisations are just for disabled people and others are available for anyone who feels unsafe or abused.

Listed below are organisations that can help you if you feel unsafe. If you’re deaf, you can call these helplines using the New Zealand Relay Service.

Disability organisations 

People First New Zealand, IHC and Personal Advocacy and Safeguarding Trust have set up a phone number to help people with learning disabilities and their families and whānau.

Freephone: 0800 20 60 70

People First New Zealand staff will answer all calls, but all three organisations will work together to ensure people get the help they need.

Other Organisations 

Secret support – shielded sites 

Shield site logoMany websites now have a black and white computer icon at the bottom of the page, next to the social media buttons. When you click this, a window will open to help report abuse or seek help secretly - this will not appear in your browser history. This is for people who may find it hard to tell someone about abuse any other way. Websites where you can find a shield include: 

  • MightyApe  
  • Briscoes NZ 
  • The Warehouse  
  • New Zealand Post 

Find the complete list of shield site partners 

Find more about violence prevention on Unite against COVID-19

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