Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Antoine Dixon's sword attack victim to tell tale

Antoine Dixon’s ex to reflect on violent life

Simonne Butler has detailed what happened during - and leading up to - the sword attack by Antoine Dixon (inset). Photo / Chris Loufte, file
Simonne Butler has detailed what happened during - and leading up to - the sword attack by Antoine Dixon (inset). Photo / Chris Loufte, file

When Antoine Dixon severed ex-girlfriend Simonne Butler's hands with a samurai sword, it was "just one more day" in a life of sex, drugs and violence.

The shocking P-fuelled crime spree, in which Dixon also cut off the left hand of girlfriend Renee Gunbie before driving to Auckland and shooting dead James Te Aute, happened 11 years ago.

Now Ms Butler has written a "gory" book about that life based on journals dating to 1997, with the intention of using her ordeal to inspire others.

"A lot of people would come across me who had way less crap in their lives and they're letting it drag them down and nothing drags me down, nothing ever has, and that is very helpful to people."

The yet-to-be published book, called Recalibrate, features the January 2003 attacks by the late Dixon, Ms Butler's brave recovery and her study of shamanic healing - a spiritual healing process involving an intermediary to the supernatural world.

The 39-year-old is open and frank about her life before Dixon, saying she was "young and dumb" and that she comes off looking "pretty stupid" at times in the book.

"It's full of sex and drugs," she said.

"It's full of violence. My hands getting chopped off was just one bad day in my life.

"I was getting beaten up every other day. For everyone else that was this really bad thing, but for me it was just one more day in my life."

During the attack at Pipiroa near Thames, Dixon bilaterally amputated both Ms Butler's hands, which had to be surgically replanted.

She has almost no use of her left hand and about 65 per cent use of the right.

Ms Butler was in hospital for a series of operations, which she said, in hindsight, changed her life.

"It gave me a lot of time to slow down and look after myself and figure out what I wanted to do with my life."

Reaction to the book from family and friends had been positive, she said.

Asked about Dixon's other samurai sword victim, Ms Gunbie, she said she had not spoken to her former friend in 10 years.

Ms Butler, who recently became a survivor spokeswoman for Women's Refuge, launched a PledgeMe fundraising page yesterday to raise the $75,000 she needs to publish the book.

She hopes to raise the money through the crowd-sourcing website in two months, and last night held a project launch party in Auckland, where she now lives.

Last night there had been 14 pledges donating $805 which Ms Butler was "rapt with".

She hopes to hire a ghost-writer to polish the book and to learn how to write professionally.

"I've probably got a good 15 books in me and maybe 10 novels, but let's hope they don't all take 11 years to get out."

- NZ Herald

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