“If There Was a Dire Emergency, We Never Would Have Been Able to Get in There”: Domestic Violence Reporting and Disasters

August 2010 (VOL. 28, NO. 2)

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This paper examines domestic violence reporting in a community in New Zealand struck by a snow storm. Previous theory and empirical studies are discussed to provide context for the study being presented. The results are based on in-depth interviews with representatives of agencies involved in domestic violence response and emergency management as well as statistics and case file summaries from the predominant non-statutory domestic violence agency in the community. Interviewees were asked about domestic violence reporting and their awareness of any changes during the disaster. Changes were then measured against the statistics made available. Policy and planning in place at the time of the snow storm were examined to determine if agencies were prepared for any changes in domestic violence reporting in the aftermath of the snow storm. Issues that arose from a lack of planning or policy are discussed, and suggestions are made for improving both emergency management planning, but also the planning and policies of domestic violence agencies that must continue to provide services during disasters.