Engage Aotearoa

Blow the Whistle on Domestic Violence

Watch the Blow the Whistle Campaign Video here.

The ‘Blow The Whistle‘ campaign is a Mental Health Foundation initiative highlighting the Rugby World Cup event as a way of drawing attention to domestic violence, one of the main causes of mental health trauma in our society today.

It is also widespread.  One in three women said they had experienced family violence in their lifetimes as part of a 2004 study interviewing over 2000 women in Auckland and the Waikato (1).

Another more recent US study (August 2011) showed that if a woman was exposed to 3 or 4 types of violence (like  rape, sexual assault and stalking), the rate of mental disorders went up by 77.3%: for anxiety it went up by 52.5%, for mood disorder 56.2%, and suicide attempts went up 34.7%

When it comes to big sports events like the Rugby World Cup, the amount of violence against women and children goes up! A recent report from the United Kingdom states that incidents of family violence increase by as much as 30% on the days of England’s fixtures during the 2006 FIFA World Cup (3). A recent NZ paper states ‘…for some women and children, the Rugby World Cup may bring increased risks of violence, abuse and neglect’.(4)

So the risk to mental health issue is big and it’s likely to get bigger once the Cup is underway!

What can we do?

  • Talk about it where you work or within groups you run.
  • Put up posters: order them free from info@blowthewhistle.org.nz . There are also some whistles and coasters available at a cost.
  • Write a letter to the local newspaper
  • Support the campaign at any matches you attend.

Go to  www.blowthewhistle.co.nz for more information.


  1. Fanslow J, Robinson E. Violence against women in New Zealand: prevalence and health consequences. N Z Med J. 2004;117(1206).
  2. Rees S Silove D et al. (2011) Lifetime Prevalence of Gender-based Violence in Women and Relationship with Mental Disorders and Psychosocial Function JAMA  August 3 2011– Volume 306, No 5
  3. Palmer C (2011) Violence Against Women and Sport: A Literature Review Trust for London
  4. Hager D. Woolson Neville D (2011) ‘Mitigating the risk of men’s violence against women increasing during the Rugby World Cup ‘ retrieved from http://www.2shine.org.nz/sports-and-domestic-abuse

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