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He didn’t hit me. The phrase he would use was, ‘I never hit her.’ But he would push things into me, he would drag me, shove me. He would threaten me, ‘I’m gonna kill you, I’m gonna smash your throat on the ground.’ There was a constant fear of violence, a lot of shouting, a lot of throwing things. And that continued after we separated, until my son was older.
It took me ages to realise that I was a victim of domestic abuse. I couldn’t identify. I was in denial. Then finally one day I thought OMG I really am.
I was in my twenties and had been in NZ two years. I didn’t have family here. He was in his thirties. We started dating. Looking back, there were lots of warning signs straight away. He wanted to spend every day together which at first was really nice. I didn’t have many friends here, but then it became apparent I didn’t have a choice. If I wanted to see a friend, he’d have to drive me.
Once we were in a very isolated place – five hours from Auckland. He put his hands around my throat. I hid in the car and he smashed the car window.
We kind of got into a cycle of something like that happening, then I would break up with him, and then he’d come back, being very charming.
When we’d been together 5 months, I said I don’t want to be with you. Then I found out I was pregnant, after having thought I could never have children. I was in the middle of a university degree, running my own business. We decided to move in together. At the time, I sort of felt it was the right thing to do. I didn’t know what to do.
I was on a student visa, and would have to stop studying for a time. So we decided I would do a partnership visa. I became more isolated. He was not financially contributing to anything. I had to pay for all the baby things and keep paying rent. I worked right up to the week I gave birth and was back at work within 4 weeks.
He would go to work, arrive home drunk. He would sit outside, continue to drink, then come in. He spent all his money on alcohol. This was the routine every day until my son was born.
The house was never perfect enough. He would go around the house and inspect everything. Everything I did was wrong. I was always afraid. He was always very angry with me. Always screaming and shouting at me, drunk all the time. Every day. That was my life.
He would sleep on the couch every night, on the computer, pornography, dating websites. He would go out, have relationships with other women. Or he would just disappear, like over the weekends and I wouldn’t know where he was or who he was with.
I was so, so broken. I was stuck. I couldn’t afford to live by myself. It was just every day, constantly in fear. Then my son was my born.
My parents came over for my son being born. They saw it, they heard it. They pretended like it wasn’t happening. The following year they came back. At this stage we had separated, things were really bad. I asked my parents to be home when my son’s father visited my son so I didn’t have to be there. They did it, but afterwards they were sort of mad at me, ‘Why would you put us through that, make us be around him?’ Not, OMG this is what you have to live with. They were not interested.
After we separated I moved into my own house with my son, and he proceeded to stalk me for years - but he never hit me. He was outside my house all day every day, in the car. I would wake up in the morning he would be there, I put my son in the car, he would follow me in the car.
I had just started dating a new guy who came over for dinner. Within 20 minutes the phone rang. It was my son’s father. He told me ‘I know he’s in the house. And I’m outside with an axe.’
Every day, my son’s father sent me like 14 texts. You fat F C – word, things he was going to do to me, the worst threats. I was back in uni, trying to study, still running my business with a small child.
Once he came over to see my son. He dragged me and my body hit a chair and the chair fell on my son. Things like that happened a lot. But he never went to prison because he never hit me.
The first time I went to police, my son’s father got hold of the phone number of the guy I was dating. He texted that he was going to slit his throat and shit in his neck.
I went to the police station and said I needed to report this situation. I asked for a private room because this is really explicit stuff. The woman at the counter said, ‘No, read the text out right here.’ After a while I said ok, and I started to read and she looked up horrified. She said, ‘How dare you use this language, this is very offensive, what were you thinking!?’ So I ran out. It was awful.
One night I went out and arrived home early in the morning. I was getting out of the car, my phone rings and my son’s father is saying, ‘Where did you come from? I know you’ve only just arrived home.’ It’s 7am on a Sunday and he’s there watching me. This is the feeling that you get. That you’re trapped.
I had a wardrobe next to my bedroom door with a mirror on it. I would have my bedroom door open so from lying in bed I could see the front door in the mirror. I would just lie there all night staring in the mirror. I couldn’t sleep, just lay in bed staring into the mirror. For years. I felt it was never going to end. I was really suicidal and depressed for quite some time.
I first had contact with Shine pretty early on, probably through police, because I got a lot of help from one officer.
I was living alone and having him outside all the time. A real turning point was when Shine came and they made my house like a fortress. They put the double-glazing in, repaired the kicked-in door, put the chain on, the peep-hole, the double lock. They reinforced the door so it couldn’t be kicked in, I got the alarm on the wall with the button. It was amazing. They put in a sensor light. If I saw the sensor light go on I knew he was there. I could just hit that button and I would be safe. I wouldn’t be murdered in the night alone. I wouldn’t die alone. I could hit that button and the police would be over. Also Shine put my phone number on a high-risk list. So I knew if I called the police they would already know what was happening. Those things really made a difference.
I felt emotionally supported for the very first time. These people really cared about me. I matter. Because I had felt for a long time that I didn’t matter. I matter. And I felt safer.
It was huge. The house felt secure again - enough – enough for me to sleep again.
He eventually went to court. I was very disappointed. I felt that he should have gone to prison, he didn’t. But that’s ok, that’s not my story.
Once he was cut off completely, that was when were able to start rebuilding and get our life back.
Life is great again. I’m myself again. I finished my uni studies. I have a job that I love. I’m in a great relationship. I have family, I have friends again, I am myself again, but…It took such a very long time to heal. Sometimes I still don’t sleep. I was alone Tuesday night and I was up until 3 in the morning - that’s just how it is. It never really goes away, he’s still out there.
I couldn’t have done it without Shine, without that support, the counselling, that security stuff. It was amazing, it was really just what I needed. I wish I had asked for help sooner. And this organization is just… I am eternally indebted. Because it’s such important, important work.
Without Shine I wouldn’t be where I am today.
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