Family violence: 'Why don't women leave? We hope they will change'

Today is the last day of We're Better Than This, a series by Anna Leask which launches a campaign addressing family violence. New Zealand has the highest rate of family violence in the developed world but only about 20 per cent is reported to authorities. We will keep encouraging victims and abusers to speak up and ask for help and for everyone to be more aware of family violence.
"It is such a lonely place to be, the silent victims of invisible wounds created by the ones we love and trust the most." Photo / iStock
"It is such a lonely place to be, the silent victims of invisible wounds created by the ones we love and trust the most." Photo / iStock

Today, we hear from a woman who is yet to leave an abusive relationship. The Weekend Herald has provided information to this woman about help available to her and will continue to support her where possible. Her words, amended so as not to identify her, are confronting and upsetting.

It has been 10 years of sharing my life with an abusive partner. Today I'm conscious of this, that I am a victim of family violence.

My partner is charming, he is funny, he cooks and cleans. Everything is perfect until something goes wrong ...

SPEAK UP: SHARE YOUR STORY HERE

The constant reminders that I'm useless, that I am no good, I can't do anything right ... I'm stupid -- all on a daily basis. It does not matter how hard I try, it is never good enough for him.

The physical abuse is almost better, at least is visible to the eyes.

I have been to the police couple of times, only to make the situation even worse.

The first time I called, I asked for help. I had no idea what I wanted out of it. I gave my details and told them that I only wanted them to know I was scared of being at home and told them little bits of what was going on.

Just after midnight the bell goes. It is a police officer asking to speak with me. My partner was already home from work.

They asked me if I was okay, and if it was okay for me to stay at home. Then they left, leaving me with an angry monster yelling at me about how stupid I was to think they would help. And he was right. Nobody can help.

My children have watched a lot of yelling, one time he yelled so loud in my ears that I thought I lost my hearing in that ear.

Many times I have been kicked out of the house ... many, many times. He turns the lights on in the middle of the night, pulls the blankets off and insists I talk to him. He demands sex and blames me for the way he is, says the behaviour is because of the lack of sex.

Often I hear my boys copy their dad. "Bloody women," they say. That is what made me realise that allowing him to speak to me that way was going to create a new generation of boys that see nothing wrong with treating their partner with no respect at all.

I love my partner and I really wish he would understand how deep the wounds are that he made in my soul.

We have had many long conversations about it.

Maybe that is the answer to the question "why don't women just leave their partners?" We just hope they will change and eventually the man we fell in love with will return.

It is such a lonely place to be, the silent victims of invisible wounds created by the ones we love and trust the most.

If I could give any advice to other women, it would be this: say it out loud, tell people around you, tell as many people as possible, tell your partner how much it hurts.

We all need help to understand how we can change this situation.

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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If you are reading this information on the Herald website and you're worried that someone using the same computer will find out what you've been looking at, you can follow the steps at the link here to hide your visit. Each of the websites above also have a section that outlines this process.

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.

- NZ Herald

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