Lucy had been with her partner for almost a year when he first became violent towards her.

Lucy, not her real name, was pregnant at the time.

"He dragged me by my hair inside and he tried to put my face into a toaster that he had just smashed on the floor. Apparently I left the toaster on.

"I was shocked that anyone could do that, I've never experienced it, I've never seen it, I just thought it was something you only see on movies."

"Knowing that you don't have to put up with anything and that you're worth more than what you're going through."

Later in her pregnancy, "he bent me backwards over the oven and held his fist up and threatened to give me an abortion".

Special report: Tauranga refuge seeing more extreme violence

Lucy said things that would set him off could be as minor as "not emptying the dishwasher, or asking him how his day was".

He said that if I ever left him he'd find me and kill me. It's just when you're in that situation ... you believe them.

She had hoped the beginning of the violence was linked with his recent drug use.

"It was always that hope that ... if he stops the drugs he'll stop the violence," she said.

The drug use stopped, but the violence did not.

Read more: Special report: Tauranga refuge seeing more extreme violence
Extra pressure on women's refuge


Her partner had control over Lucy's computer use, destroyed any cellphones she had, and was in possession of an EFTPOS card linked to her bank account.

It was once the violence extended to the baby, that Lucy's fear of her partner changed.

"He threw a phone at me and it ricochet and hit my son in the head.

"The whole time I was asking him please stop hurting my son. He had no remorse or care for that.

"Almost immediately I went from fearing him, to fighting him."

Lucy has since moved to the Women's Refuge, or as she called it, "a little patch of heaven".

"You're recovering and healing alongside others, it makes you feel as though your emotions are more legitimate because you've had to ... practically ignore your emotions while you've been in the abusive relationship."

"I didn't start feeling safe until about my third week, just because my ex installed that fear, that no matter where I am he will find me and my baby."

Lucy said the Women's Refuge gave her the support to get through that feeling, and she would not have been able to prevail from the situation without them.

"They work so hard, they do so much more than they have to and they're not judgmental in any way, shape or form.

"They've been through it, and seen it a thousand times."

To those who may be facing similar experiences, Lucy said: "It's not about strength, a lot of women they say they don't have the strength to leave.

"It's not about strength it's about knowledge.

"Knowing that it can be better.

"Knowing that there is help out there.

"Knowing that you don't have to put up with anything and that you're worth more than what you're going through."

Can you help the refuge, visit their Givealittle page.

Where to find help:
Tauranga Women's Refuge, crisis line 541-1911 or 0800-867-33843
Shakti 0800-742-584
Tauranga Living Without Violence 577-9297
Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust 571-0875
It's Not OK helpline 0800-456-450
Shine 0508-744-633