Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Abuse stories help victim flee

New Zealand has the highest rate of family violence in the developed world but only about 20 per cent is reported to authorities. Last month, the Herald launched the We’re Better Than This campaign in a bid to raise awareness and encourage victims and abusers to ask for help.

A woman who was physically and psychologically abused, threatened, isolated, stalked and cyber-bullied by her partner has a new lease of life after she left the relationship.

She first spoke to the Herald about the relationship at the end of our We're Better Than This series saying she lived in fear of her partner.

After reading our stories she decided to leave him. For the first time she told her family what had been happening and she made a plan to escape.

In an email to the Herald she said: "I just wanted you to know you have changed my life ... I just wanted to speak up.

"I am so done ... I will leave him ... I'm saying right now that I am better than this."

The Herald can now reveal that the woman left her partner soon after, and is now living safely away from him.

To protect her and ensure her safety we will not disclose any further details of how or when she left or where she is now living.

Her family supported her and helped her leave.

"I'm here safe and sound. All went according to plan," she said the morning after she left.

"I woke up this morning with a smile. Stress-free ... I'm so happy."

Since leaving she has changed jobs and said she felt "great".

"I'm feeling happy and positive. I've got this," she said.

"He still calls and texts ... he says he's making changes ... I don't need the drama. It's clear there is no future with him."

She said she was worried he would make her out to be "the bad guy" but she was determined to get him out of her life.

"I have to finish this relationship," she said.

Another woman has also taken steps to change her life after reading the initial series.

Her husband had been subjecting her to violence and abuse for many years.

Last month she spoke out about her situation.

"The physical abuse is almost better, at least it is visible to the eyes," she said.

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

Until recently she did not recognise the full extent of the abuse. "Since I understood my situation I have been talking to my partner.

"I have spoken to Shine and I am trying to get my partner to go to counselling," she said.

She hoped others in her situation would take steps to get out of the relationship or address the issue with their abuser and seek help.

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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- NZ Herald

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