The law

Information about proposed Family Violence law changes announced 13 September 2016 are available from the Ministry of Justice website at this link:




Family violence is a crime in New Zealand. Police take family violence seriously. When police are called to a family violence incident they can help people to keep safe and access local support services.

In New Zealand law, family violence is known as domestic violence.
In the Domestic Violence Act 1995 it is defined as:

"violence against (a) person by any other person with whom that person is, or has been in a domestic relationship".

Domestic violence is:

  • physical violence or abuse
  • sexual violence or abuse
  • psychological abuse (including threats, intimidation, harassment, and damage to property)
  • allowing a child to witness abuse
  • financial abuse

It may be a single act of violence, or a number of acts that form a pattern of abuse.

Domestic violence can be carried out by anyone with whom you are in a domestic or close relationship. This includes a partner or ex-partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, carer, parent, older child, sibling, friend, flatmate or family member. They don't have to be living with you.

People experiencing family violence can contact the Police for help (111 in an emergency). A domestic violence service or the Family Court can assist in obtaining court orders to help keep you safe, including a protection order. The Police can issue a Police safety order (PSO) as an immediate, short-term protection for people at risk of domestic violence.

The Police can charge people who are harassing others through email, text or on websites like Facebook.

Partners, family and friends can request Police to advise if a person has a history of family violence. See more at this link:

Please note that as most family violence goes unreported, not having a police record is no guarantee that someone has not been an abusive in the past.


Free legal help

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Read more about the law

The Ministry of Justice has more information about the law, Protection Orders and Police Safety Orders.

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