Carmen Hall suffered violence at the hands of a former partner. This is her story.
The first time it was two black eyes and a bruised face.
I was 18 years old. I forgave him.
The second time I was dragged out of my friend's birthday party by my hair and punched about the body. My parents' house was two doors down.
The cops were called and he was arrested and charged with male assaults female.
I forgave him.
The third time, fearing for my life and the safety of my family including my dad who was battling terminal cancer, I took out a protection order and hid at the Women's
Refuge with my toddler.
I forgave him.
Broken limbs: Family violence tipped to rise over Christmas
Broken skulls and busted arms: Abused kids still showing up
Samantha Motion: This is an indictment on our community
Looking back at that turbulent on-again off-again relationship I can sympathise and won't judge women who find it difficult or impossible to leave.
Those on the outside looking in find it hard to comprehend especially when children are involved. To them, the solution is easy - leave.
But you have to live it to understand it. You have to experience how someone else can strip away all of your self-esteem and make you feel worthless every day.
You have to feel the rock that sits in the pit of your stomach when you are afraid. Afraid of his moods. Afraid he has had a bad day and will take it out on you.
Afraid you will say the wrong thing in front of other people and then you will get a hiding. Afraid you will be late home or look at another man sideways or he won't like what you cooked for dinner.
Afraid he will kill you.
I thank my whānau for being there for me. I put them through hell.
As my dad lay dying at home and I held his hand for the last time he told me ''there are plenty more fish in the sea, you are too good for him and as long as his arse is pointing to the ground he will never change but you can''.
In a perfect world, you would have thought that would have been the end of it. I would have packed up the kids and ran. But it took a few more years before I built up the courage, strength and support systems to flee.
I paid a high price which didn't include the stalking, sleepless nights, stress and feeling scared, hopeless and lost - but that's another story.
Now I am married to a different man. A kind man. But he has put up with a lot of my shit, my unresolved issues and my baggage. It has not been a fairytale ride and I am grateful he has stuck it out with me and accepted I am flawed and still carry some deep scars on the inside.
But the alarming domestic violence facts continue to worry me and I think it is a shameful insight into the behaviour of some cowardly males who like the thrill and the power of it all.
As this newspaper has reported, six cases of family harm are appearing in Bay of Plenty courts every day - the highest rate in the country.
Police figures show 13,219 family investigations were carried out in the Bay of Plenty last year - nearly 1000 more than the previous year and about 483 more than in 2016.
Of these investigations, 2213 cases went to court.
Women's Refuge Waiariki manager Paula Coker says women have showed up with smashed-in skulls while others had been held hostage for days on end and had knives held to their throats and guns pointed at their heads.
''It's absolutely horrendous,'' Corker says.
She says among the vicious beatings and broken bones is psychological and emotional harm.
Meanwhile Bay of Plenty police youth, community and family harm district manager Inspector Phil Gillbanks says drugs, alcohol and mental health issues fuel the degree of violence, which increases around Christmas.
This week it was also reported former Shortland Street actor Pua Magasiva was convicted of assaulting his wife just two weeks before his death.
I knew a number of women in the same boat as me all those years ago. Some still are. It is sad to see family violence is still happening in society.
No woman regardless of the circumstances deserves the bash and men need to keep their fists to themselves.
I was fortunate to escape family violence but unfortunately some don't. Some die at the hands of their husbands and partners and that is the biggest tragedy.
My deepest respect goes to those women who have lost their lives and my thoughts are with all the others who remain trapped.
Domestic violence: Do you need help?
If you're in danger now:
Phone for police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
Run outside to 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:
• Shine, free national helpline 9am-11pm every day - 0508 744 633; www.2shine.org.nz
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843; www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450; www.areyouok.org.nz