Our Story

Not so long ago, domestic violence was something many people pretended did not exist. As late as the 1970’s, women escaping violent family lives had no support from the law and no access to benefits or community agencies. At that time, society turned a blind eye to domestic violence. There certainly wasn’t the range of support available now.

In 1976, a group of a small group of women got together to do something about it. They started the Battered Women’s Support Group – a non-profit, voluntary telephone support group to support others in similar situations to themselves.

“We’re proud that each year, we support hundreds of women and children move towards safety.”

That group became one of the original 11 refuges which collaborated in 1979 to set up a national association of independent refuges. Their goal was to increase public understanding of the causes and effects of family violence through research, publication of books and papers on the issue.

By 1986 the group had re-formed as the Battered Women’s Trust, and was going from strength to strength.

From that initial group in 1976, we have evolved to offer a range of advocacy and education services as well as rural, safe housing, transitional housing and a 24-hour crisis line, plus more.


Our goal is to empower women to create a safe and healthy family life for themselves and their children, free of family violence. It’s what we’ve done for more than 30 years.


What Sets Us Apart

We remain one of the only refuges in the Canterbury region providing long-term and on-going support groups for women and their children after they leave refuge.

We offer a full range of support services across the life-cycle of a domestic violence journey. Our niche is in crisis response via crisis line which allows for immediate contact. We are the only refuge in Christchurch with two safe houses, one for emergency and one for transitional clients.

Battered Women’s Trust have been part of a co-ordinated approach to family violence through providing a co-ordinated approach to services for a long time. Originally through co-ordination of the Family Violence Inter Agency Response System (FVIARS) in Canterbury to bring agencies together to support women in need. Then through a Family Safety Team based in a Police station, working alongside Police. Now through the Integrated Safety Response pilot to provide co-ordinated services and support with other professionals to ensure that a safety plan is initiated and completed with the purpose of achieving sustainable safety.

Who We Work With

“One of my clients had suffered 30 years of abuse, she was over 60 years old. We did safety planning, built up her confidence to report the violence, got a protection order and taught her to use a mobile phone. The abuser was put on probation and finally told ‘this is not ok’.”Battered Women’s Trust support worker.