Tony Veitch: Acceptance, remorse and recovery

Poor judgment on my behalf changed so much that day and I apologise unreservedly for that. Photo / Doug Sherring
Poor judgment on my behalf changed so much that day and I apologise unreservedly for that. Photo / Doug Sherring

It is 10 years since I turned from the man I'd always wanted to be, to a man I could not control. In January 2006 I made a huge mistake, a grave misjudgment on my behalf that has impacted the lives of many people and for that I am truly sorry.

Even though it was the only time that I have ever lashed out in my life, once was too much. I should have walked away, but instead I hurt someone and I can't ever make that go away.

I have spent hours alone and in counselling sessions considering my actions that night and wondering why I ever allowed myself to get to that point.

There is no justifiable answer. I have imagined every conceivable scenario to have avoided what I did, but in the end, they were my actions. I take responsibility for that and I will do for the rest of my life.

Poor judgment on my behalf changed so much that day and I apologise unreservedly for that.

I live with what I did every day and as a result of my role in media, I live with it everywhere.

My story is public and while that's hard personally, maybe it is a good thing. Perhaps somewhere it might help someone else make a better decision. Hopefully it can be a small part of the process of educating New Zealanders that family violence is not okay.

To think of myself as a component of New Zealand's horrendous family violence statistics is appalling to me. I have embarrassed my family, my Mum and Dad who taught me right from wrong and who taught me to be a good person.

I have distanced myself from cousins, aunties, uncles and from friends because of the shame I feel. They deserve better. I am not looking for sympathy; I accept what I have done and how wrong it was.

While I can't change what happened that day, I have learned a huge lesson. I am a completely different person from the one I was that day. I breathe now, I don't live to work. I have learned to understand my body, my triggers for stress and, most importantly, depression. I am constantly amazed at the number of people I come across, who, like me, suffer the effects of severe anxiety.

Some will say I was a coward for trying to take my life, maybe I was. But I have also learned until you are in that position you shouldn't judge because no one knows how you feel but you.

On the day I was sentenced, oddly, I felt a sense of relief that the facts would come out after years of incorrect allegations being reported in the media. There was talk of me being a P-addict and that I had thrown my girlfriend down the stairs -- both completely untrue. While the misinformation continues, coming to terms with people's judgment of me based on this has been a huge part of my recovery.

In 2009 I pleaded guilty to one singular act which Judge Doogue said was not planned and that I was not a serial offender. I was sentenced to nine months' supervision, 300 hours of community service and received a fine. Regardless, 10 years on from that misjudgment, I know and accept it will always be part of who I am.

Regaining my career has been the toughest challenge of my life. I know there are those of you who believe I don't deserve it. I get it. Fortunately I have met some incredible Kiwis who have helped me find some inner peace to grow, live my life once more and to be a better person.

I commend the Herald for raising this issue to the forefront of all our thinking. It's much the same way I feel about suicide in this country. If we don't talk about it, acknowledge it and create real plans for change, then we remain with an unacceptable status quo.

I have never sought pity and I am not looking for it now. I just wanted a second chance. My employer gave me that chance, which I am forever grateful for.

Every day what I have done casts a shadow over my future; when I walk into restaurants or my local service station of course I wonder what people are thinking when they look at me.

Perhaps I will never be free from being associated with family violence. I have accepted what I did was wrong and I reiterate there is no excuse for what I did.

Thankfully I am not that person any more and my promise to myself, but most importantly to every one of the people's lives I changed that day, is that I will never be that person again.

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you
• Run outside and head for where there are other people
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you
• Take the children with you
• Don't stop to get anything else
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisisline operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• ShineFree national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisisline 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youth services: (06) 3555 906 (Palmerston North and Levin)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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- Herald on Sunday

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