Ethnic perspectives on family violence in Aotearoa New Zealand

cover imageIssues Paper 14, April 2019

Author: Rachel Simon-Kumar1, PhD 

1 Associate Professor, Social & Community Health, School of Population Health, University of Auckland


Key Messages

  • Violence directed against women in ethnic and migrant communities is prevalent across different age, sexuality and identity groups, but is under-reported.
  • While there are similarities between violence against ethnic and non-ethnic women, violence in ethnic communities can take particular cultural forms, have distinct profiles of presentation, and arise from a specific constellation of risk factors.
  • Risk factors for interpersonal violence against ethnic women are layered and encompass individual (e.g., language barriers, isolation), household (e.g., migration factors, employment conditions), community (gender norms, patriarchal values), and systemic (racism, colonisation, capitalist structures) factors.
  • Help-seeking behaviours, along with reporting, are relatively infrequent in ethnic communities. In part, this silence may reflect shame and fear of the stigma from and towards their communities that may be associated with disclosing violence. Low levels of help-seeking may also reflect the limited formal and informal avenues available to ethnic and migrant women where they can safely disclose their experiences.
  • Current interventions for violence against ethnic and migrant women take varied forms. Community-based specialist services alongside responsive ‘mainstream’ services have the potential to form an effective integrated intervention approach to addressing impacts of violence. Increasingly, there is recognition that services cannot be ‘one size fits all’ across ethnic and non-ethnic communities. Specific culturally-sensitive approaches and techniques need to be utilised to address the unique profiles of violence against ethnic and migrant women.

Recommended citation 

Simon-Kumar, R. (2019). Ethnic perspectives on family violence in Aotearoa New Zealand. Issues Paper 14. Auckland, New Zealand: New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse, University of Auckland.

ISSN: 2253-3222, published online only.


The Clearinghouse welcomes your feedback. Please email us - we would love to hear your comments on this issues paper.

Other Issues Papers

Read other Issues Papers