The Change Journey

Thinking About Change

This page is for people who are thinking about changing their behaviour because they're worried about hurting or scaring someone close to them. You may be supporting a friend or family/whānau member to get help. It takes courage to be here, and we're here to support you to find the right way for you.

  • Relationships can be challenging for us all. At times we can act in ways that frighten and hurt others. This can harm our relationships and could result in abusive behaviours and family violence.

    Family violence can be a range of behaviours that affect everyone in the family and wider whānau. It can take the form of physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse (including making threats, name-calling, controlling who you see or money spent, put downs, hitting, imposing and unwanted sexual contact). It can be a one-off situation or a pattern of abusive actions towards a family/whānau member that causes fear and harm.

    Intimate partner violence is a form of family violence and is defined as abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship. The term ‘intimate partner’ refers to both current and former partners. While it’s normal to disagree and argue in a relationship, it’s not ok to make your partner feel scared for their safety or intimidated into doing things they don’t want to or to limit your partner’s freedom in any way to make their own choices.

  • Let’s look at some of the harmful behaviours that can take place within family violence. By learning about these behaviours, we can focus on what is needed to address and deal with them. It might feel confronting, so take your time, and if you feel like you need to talk to anyone about this you can reach out to us on our live chat or on our support line 0800 456 450.

    There are different types of abuse in relationships. Sometimes we know what we’re doing is not ok and at other times we do these behaviours without understanding the impact on people we care about.

  • We invite you to take a look at these videos to see how harmful behaviours impact on others.

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    Is my behaviour taking me closer to, or further away, from family wellbeing?

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    What are you bringing home with you?

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    Harmful behaviours can have immediate as well as long term impacts on both us, and the people closest to us. Here are some examples of how you and others might experience these behaviours.

  • It takes courage to try something new and change your behaviour, but it is possible. Many people have changed their behaviours and now live violence-free.

    We invite you to watch these short videos and reflect on how you would like your life to be.

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    Are you a tāne with a family, or are you a whānau man?

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    How important is whānau, family safety to you?

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    You might be concerned about how some people who are used to the old you will react when you start making changes. They may prefer you not to change and will try to stop you from changing or blame other people or things like drugs and alcohol for your behaviour. Seeking help and making change could be one of the most important things you do for yourself and your loved ones.

    Man wearing glasses standing underneath treeThink about what you would gain from changing your behaviour, and read the list below to see if any of these would apply to you:

    • Feel better about yourself
    • Be closer to people you care about
    • Have a family/whānau that feels safe
    • Have more fun with children/tamariki and grandchildren/mokopuna and help them grow up to be the great people you want them to be
    • Have self-control rather than trying to control others
    • Respect love, not fear
    • Breaking family/whānau patterns of abusive/violent behaviour.

    What has this behaviour cost you so far? What happens if you chose not to change and stay the same?

    If you want to make changes, be in control of yourself, have the love and trust of people close to you then it's time to take the steps to be violence-free.

  • When we want to make a change in our lives it can be useful to think about what we need to help us make this change successfully.

    We invite you to watch this short video and reflect on what kinds of things influence your behaviour, and what you might need to bring about the changes you want.

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    What's your story?

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    Contributing factors

    Some of the things we describe below may be contributing factors or prevent you from making the changes you want in your life. Others may not be relevant to your situation. This doesn't mean they are the cause of the harmful behaviours you're worried about, but understanding more about these things may support you in your journey towards change.

    Trauma and intergenerational violence

    Sometimes when people have experienced their own hurt and trauma, in their childhood or past relationships, and they haven't healed they can go on to hurt themselves and/or those close to them. If this trauma hasn't been healed, it can cause low self-esteem and difficulty processing emotions, leading to a continuation of violence within the home.

    Making positive changes can mean people don't repeat the cycle for their children/tamariki and the next generation aren't impacted like they were. If you're worried about how things from your past are impacting on your behaviour now you can go to:  


    In Aotearoa/New Zealand there are some strong ideas about how men and women should and shouldn't act. Some people believe men should be stoic, in charge, and not be vulnerable or emotional or ask for help. Some people believe women should accept what men say, be responsible for keeping the peace and look after other people's needs before themselves. These old attitudes and beliefs have a significant impact on our emotions, feelings, and actions and at their worst can mean we normalise harmful behaviours and don't ask for help.

    Here's a video that explains how some people can get stuck in the 'man box'

    Alcohol and other drugs

    Sometimes people use alcohol and other drugs when they don't know how else to cope with how they're feeling or difficult things happening in their life. This can get in the way of dealing with what the problem is and can have a negative impact on themselves and the people they care about. Some ways that a person's alcohol and drug use can be problematic are:

    • They use alcohol and/or drugs as an excuse for their behaviour
    • Alcohol or drugs becomes the person's main focus and their family/whānau and friends needs come second
    • It causes financial stress they spend money on alcohol or drugs before paying bills, they lose their job because they're unreliable
    • They forget to attend appointments or don't wake up to take their children/tamariki to school
    • It can start and/or make conflict worse

    If you're interested in finding out more about the impacts of alcohol and drug use click here

    Mental Health

    Mental health is part of our health/hauora and affects how we feel, our thoughts and how we interact with others. Having good mental health helps us stay connected to others and cope better with life's ups and downs. When someone's mental health isn't great, for example if they're anxious or feeling down, they may deal with their feelings in a way that can negatively impact on themselves, family/whānau and friends. Being able to recognise the early signs of mental health difficulty is important.

    If you'd like to know more about mental health and how to look after your wellbeing, visit the Mental Health Foundation website


    Colonisation is when the British settled here and forced their laws and values on to Māori, separating them from their traditional knowledge, practices, and social structures. Before colonisation family violence was rare in Aotearoa New Zealand. It was not condoned in traditional Māori society, where men and women had complementary roles and respectful relationships. British settlers introduced the idea that men and women were unequal, for example that men should be the head of the household and should be obeyed by their wives and children/tamariki, this then influenced how Māori viewed relationships.

    This video Whānau Violence is not Traditional for Māori and information sheet produced by the New Zealand Police, and this TEDx Talk Transforming Lives By Exploring Histories by Rawiri Waretini-Karena can help to understand more about the impact of intergenerational trauma and colonisation for Māori.

    Physical Health

    Our physical health/tinana is connected to our overall wellbeing. If this isn't taken care of then it can have a big impact on the way we feel, think and behave. Nourishing and strengthening our physical wellbeing helps us to cope with the ups and downs of life. Some people improve their physical health/tinana by going for walks, exercising, not smoking or adding more fruit and veggies into their diet.

    You can learn more about how your physical health connects with your overall wellbeing here and some tips on improving your physical health/tinana here

    Basic Needs

    Today it can be hard for people to support themselves and their family/whānau. Some people find it hard to pay for food, clothing, transport or medical care, their housing isn't good enough, or they may not have a regular place to sleep at all. Not being able to provide for family/whānau and the worry this causes can have a significant impact on how a person feels and they could become frustrated or angry more easily with the people around them.

    There are places you can apply for financial support or if you just need to talk things through with someone you can call 1737

  • We experience a wide range of emotions every day, and our emotions often guide the choices we make. There are lots of ways to describe how we're feeling.

    We invite you to watch these short videos and explore how your own thoughts and emotions might be affecting your relationships.

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    Men don’t have emotions, yeah right!

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    The land of emotions

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     What makes us feel the way we do?

    There are things that happen within us (internal) and things that happen around us (external) that can have an impact on our emotions. Some people notice more from one category than the other. Here are some examples of what those can look like:


      • Thoughts
      • Physical sensations
      • Urges
      • Images, memories
      • Beliefs
      • Learned experiences


      • What I see around me
      • Different smells
      • Sounds around me
      • People around me
      • The environment around me
    What is the difference between anger and violence?

    Anger - internal

      • Is an emotion
      • Something you feel
      • It's normal to feel anger
      • What you do with anger is what matters
      • We can learn to recognise the triggers and how to be in control

    Violence - external

      • Is a behaviour
      • Something you do
      • It's not ok to use violence, it's a choice to use violence
      • Hurts you and your relationships and makes people scared
      • We are responsible for our behaviour
    This tool can help you learn more about different types of emotions.
    How am I feeling today?
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    Expectations from others

    From when we're young we're told how we should experience emotions depending on which groups we identify with.

    For example:

    • Women can be told to be quiet, polite and do what men say
    • Men can be told to be tough, don't show emotions, be in charge, strong and don't ask for help

    Sometimes we don't let ourselves experience certain emotions because it doesn't fit within the 'box' we're told we should be in. It can be confusing and hard to figure out how to share what we're feeling when we aren't sure how people will respond to us.

    How others respond to our emotions

    Other people can also influence/teach us how we manage our emotions with the way they respond.

    • The distractor - helps you to think about/do something else
    • The listening ear - listens and lets you vent and talk it through without trying to solve it
    • The advice giver - gives advice to solve the problem (make sure it's a positive way to deal with it)

    It can be useful when you want to talk to someone to think about what you're wanting to get from the conversation and who might be the right person to offer support. It could be useful to let them know what role you need them to take.

    We invite you to watch these short videos about other people and emotions. The first video asks you to consider whether asking for help is something you would be comfortable doing.

    The second video is about how you relate to, and form relationships with others in your life.

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    Asking for help takes courage

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    Respectful relating

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  • We all face challenges and situations in life that can cause us to have strong feelings and emotions.

    What can be useful is to have some tools up our sleeve to manage these situations, without resorting to harmful thoughts and behaviours.

    We now invite you to watch these short videos and consider whether some of these tools may benefit you when thinking about change.

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    Distancing from strong feelings

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    Time out

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    Strategies to feel better

    Pushing down, trying to ignore, or bottling up emotions often doesn't end well. There are other ways we can release our emotions so that we feel better and those around us are safe. Here are some suggestions to try out:

    Whakakī - Things that fill your cup

    • Play a game with the kids
    • Take the dog for a walk
    • Listen to music
    • Make art
    • Practice hobbies
    • Spend time with mates who support your change journey

    Whakawatea - Ways to release strong emotions

    • Go for a run
    • Work out
    • Play basketball
    • Write it down
    • Time out/walk away/go to your safe place

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  • Often we're so busy or caught up in the moment that we aren't in touch with how we're feeling, and we can do things on auto pilot without thinking things through. Practising being present (sometimes called mindfulness) can help with emotions like stress, as well as to improve symptoms of anxiety or depression.

    We invite you to watch and participate in this short video to practise being present and notice how you’re feeling right now.

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    5 minutes to regain clarity and confidence

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    How to be more present
    • Slow down and bring your full attention to what you’re doing
    • Breathe slowly and calmly while paying careful attention to each breath
    • Do one thing at a time
    • Take time to appreciate the small things – look at the stars, stroll on a beach, stroke a pet
    • Write a journal or draw a picture, paying full attention as you do
    • Develop a daily habit to be present with
    • Download a mindfulness app to help you practise

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Taking Steps For Change
Want to know how to make some changes? Ka rawe/excellent! This page has some ideas to help you think about what's important to you and why you want to make changes. You can learn about when things start to go wrong, and what you can do when you notice this happening. There will be some things here that apply to you, and others that don't, so take what you need from this page.
Go to "Taking Steps For Change"

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