Women’s Refuge is an organisation in NZ committed to empowering women, and keeping them and their children safe from domestic violence.

What is Women’s Refuge?

Womens Refuge is an organisation which is committed to empowering women and children so that they can choose to live in an environment free from violence. They provide a range of services which help protect women and children in violent home situations, and assist them when they are ready to leave.

Women’s Refuge work hard to raise the awareness of family violence in the community, and are working towards eliminating beliefs, attitudes and behaviour which perpetuate violence against women and children.

What do Women’s Refuge do?

Women’s Refuge offers a range of services, and how these are delivered will depend on your needs. They are aware that for many women, their partner would become violent if they knew they were accessing help. Because of this, and the stigma that is often attached to family violence, Women’s Refuge operates with absolute discretion and confidentiality.

Some of the services Women’s Refuge provides include:

24 hour Crisis Line

The crisis line is listed under ‘Women’s Refuge’ in the white pages of your phone book, and is available so women can receive immediate help and support. The crisis line is not only there for people who need to be removed from a violent situation, it is also there to provide a listening ear, guidance and support. If you or your child is in immediate danger, phone 111.

24 hour access to Emergency Accommodation and Transport

Women’s Refuge operates safe houses, where women and children can stay temporarily to keep themselves safe. Some women stay for just one or two nights, and some stay for weeks. How long you stay is dependent on you and your circumstances.

A refuge worker will pick you up, or meet you somewhere so that the location of the safe house remains completely confidential. You do not have to bring anything with you.

Information, Advocacy and Support

Women’s Refuge is there to help you with anything you may need to organise in keeping yourself and your children safe. This may include coming with you to see the Police, lawyers, doctors, your child’s teacher, or Work and Income. They will help you arrange suitable housing, child care options, and if necessary changing your child’s school. They can also refer you to relevant professionals within the community who are sympathetic to women who are victims of family violence.

Education and Support Groups

Women’s Refuge facilitates a range of education and support programmes for women and children about living free of violence. You could still be living in a violent situation to attend the group, or you may have already left but need support and guidance. Most women return to violent relationships several times before leaving permanently, and you will not be judged if this happens. The programmes are designed to help keep yourself and your children safe no matter what your situation.

How is Women’s Refuge funded?

A national fundraising unit raises money through donations, bequests, charitable grants and annual appeals. This money is then distributed to Women’s Refuges throughout New Zealand. Local refuges can fundraise themselves, but because of the need for confidentiality and keeping people safe, getting out and about in the community is sometimes difficult.

How can I get their help?

Women’s Refuge is listed under ‘W’ in the White Pages of your phone book, and their crisis line operates 24 hours a day. If you or your children are in immediate danger you should call 111. Alternatively, click here to find contact details for a Women’s Refuge centre near you.

You don’t have to have been ‘beaten up’ to get help from Women’s Refuge. Psychological abuse is the most common form of abuse and includes things like humiliation, threats, keeping you isolated from friends and family, and controlling what you do and who you see. If you think you are being psychologically abused, use the checklist on the Women’s Refuge website.

How much does it cost?

Women’s Refuge support and advocacy services are free. In the safe house, you will be charged rent once your money is sorted out, but safety is their main concern. You will not be thrown out if you don’t have any money. In some houses, everyone contributes to food like in a flat, and in other houses families provide their own food. Women’s Refuge can help you get benefits and food grants if necessary.

Link to Women’s Refuge Website


The Women’s Refuge website is a huge site which really gets to the heart of family violence. It answers a lot of the common questions that victims of family violence have, and provides easy to follow information about how to get help. It has valuable resources for people who are thinking about leaving a violent relationship, people who already have, and people who are wanting to help a friend stay safe. It provides contacts for local Womens Refuges, and links to other useful websites.


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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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