New Zealand has the worst rate of family and intimate-partner violence in the world. Eighty per cent of incidents go unreported — so what we know of family violence in our community is barely the tip of the iceberg. Today is part four of We’re Better Than This, a week-long series on family violence. Our aim is to raise awareness, to educate, to give an insight into the victims and perpetrators. We want to encourage victims to have the strength to speak out, and abusers the courage to change their behaviour.
• Today, as part of our series on family violence, we are telling the story of real victims. Some of this content may be confronting and upsetting. Please take care.

"Dear God, please don't let me die today, please let me see my family just one more time." Those were the words running through my head when I was convinced I would not live to see another day.

I was 18, I had just been stabbed multiple times by my ex-boyfriend, who was keeping me captive in a room that we once used to call our home. "Don't worry, we'll be together in heaven soon," he whispered as he tried to suffocate me.

Blood was pouring out of my wounds and as minutes passed by, breath was escaping from me. I felt trapped, I could not escape from him. All I could think was how in the world did I end up in this situation.

"My parents cannot find me like this," I said to myself as I struggled to escape my ex-boyfriend, who was 10 million times stronger than me (I was too afraid to even try to attack back in case it aggravated him and he ended my life faster).

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It was only then that I wished I had told someone of my struggles in the relationship, but it was too late. I would die at the hands of my ex-boyfriend and no one would ever know what I was going through or that the last year of my life had been a prison where I constantly felt like I was on home detention. Not allowed to leave the house without him.

READ MORE - VICTIMS TELL THEIR STORIES:
• 'He held a chainsaw to my neck'
Why won't she leave?
'I didn't think about it as domestic abuse'

Why had I not spoken up? Why didn't I tell just one person? I wish I had the courage to speak up back then but instead I was silenced by fear and the humiliation that I did not want to suffer.

And so there I was praying that I would somehow be able to get out of this situation that felt like a scene from a horror movie.

After efforts and efforts of trying to escape I finally managed to jump out a window when he wasn't looking. With what energy I had left I crawled my way to the neighbours in the hope he did not notice I was gone and try to drag me back to the room.

I found my way into the arms of my neighbour, a stranger who tried to give me hope, who tried to tell me that today would not be the day I died. By this time the adrenalin had gone and pain was flooding in. I had lost so much blood that I could no longer hold on. I felt my life slipping away. "I'm going to die," I whispered to her.

But she was convinced that I would make it, despite the fear I could see in her eyes that told me even she did not know if I was going to make it. Against all odds, I did.

When I finally got the courage to leave, I was too scared to tell anyone. Looking back, I wish I had. I wish I had reached out because the moment I was being wheeled into hospital, I realised I was all alone.

When I woke up from surgery, my family were around me. They did not judge me, they did not ask me questions, they just wanted to protect me and comfort me.

I write about my experience and relive the most terrifying day of my life only in the hope that it gets my message across to young girls and women that if you are in an unhealthy relationship, you will find the courage to speak up and tell someone. Because it could save you.

Signs that I missed

• Overprotectiveness
• Jealousy
• Trying to claim me as "theirs"
• Not allowing me to see my friends
• Emotional abuse
• Threats
• Clinginess - checking in on me every five minutes / getting angry when I did not text him back

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
• Shine, free 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

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Take a stand - NZ is #BetterThanThis

New Zealand has the worst rate of family violence in the developed world. One in three women will be subjected to physical or sexual violence from a partner at some point in their lives.

Take a stand. Change your social media profile picture to demand that we are better than this. Right-click on this image below (or press and hold on your mobile device) to save, then upload to your social profiles. Or you can download the image here.