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

Better than this: How to leave an abusive relationship

A woman who left her abusive partner after reading the Herald's family violence series We're Better Than This, is now looking forward to her future - a future without fear and violence.

She wrote to the Herald in May to say she had decided to leave her violent and psychologically abusive partner.

"I will leave him... I'm saying right now that I am better than this," she said at the time.

"I am so done."

RELATED: 'I will leave him - I'm saying right now I am better than this' Family violence incidents increasing

It took her until now to free herself from the relationship completely.

He went to extremes to get her back, sending massive bunches of flowers to her workplace, promising her he would change and get help and threatening to harm himself if she did not return.

To protect her, the Herald will not reveal any specific details of the break up. But the woman wanted to speak about her journey in a bid to inspire others in harmful relationships.

She said her life was "fantastic" now and free of drama. After being controlled and isolated from her family and friends she found the strenght to reach out and tell them what had been happening.

They are supporting her now as she rebuilds her life.

"It was such a process to get him out of my life, I persevered because I just didn't want anything bad to happen," she said.

Her weekends were now full of plans.

"On Saturday I'm catching up with friends, Sunday I'm finally able to take mum to church, she read the article (in the Herald in May) and cried. She has missed me so much," she said.

"It is just so nice to spend time with these people. I know they deserve the truth as to why I was unreachable for too long, but for now they are just happy to have me back."

The woman plans to move to a new town soon, and has already found employment. She is excited to have a new home with no memory of her abusive ex.

"I will also speak with the police down there, let them know his name and history of us and take whatever advice they give me - and get me a little dog that will make noise when someone comes on the property.

"I'm then going to finally work on my business plan and get my own business sorted... just watch this space!"

After reading the woman's story another abuse victim asked to be put in contact with her. She was recently separated and wanted to support the woman.

"Please know that you both have been a huge part in this all finally working out.," the woman told the Herald.

"3 ,2,1...we did it! Thank you so much... thank you both personally. Together we saved my life."

ONE IN THREE:

• The Family Violence Clearinghouse 2016 data summaries still show that one in three New Zealand women, 35.4 per cent, will report experiencing physical or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime
• When psychological and emotional abuse is included, the figure jumps to 55 per cent of Kiwi women
• In 2015 six women were killed by an intimate partner or ex. All of the offenders were men.

#BETTERTHANTHIS:

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.

We can, and must, do better than this New Zealand.

Victims - you deserve better.

Abusers - you need to be better.

And every one of us can do better when it comes to looking out for our friends, neighbours, colleagues and even strangers.


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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