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. Today is part four of We’re Better Than This, a week-long series on family violence. Our aim is to raise awareness, to educate, to give an insight into the victims and perpetrators. We want to encourage victims to have the strength to speak out, and abusers the courage to change their behaviour.

• Today we are telling the story of real victims. Some of this content may be confronting and upsetting. Please take care.

It took her 10 years to leave him. Ten years of being hit, kicked, choked, strangled.

Ten years of hiding the abuse from the outside world.

But the night he almost killed her, that was the night she left. It was her son's seventh birthday.


"The children were in the living room... he pushed me onto the ground and he put his hands around my neck and he started strangling me. Then he let go again.

"I thought, 'I'm going to die.' I was telling myself, 'Just hold on, just hold on'."

'Please don't let me die today'
Why won't she leave?
'I didn't think about it as domestic abuse'
'Abuse is tiring'

Her husband, with their young children just metres away, sat on top of her and repeatedly strangled her and let her go. When he finally stopped, she had marks on her neck, she was in pain, her voice was damaged and she was gasping for breath.

"He looked at me and he said, 'I almost killed you'," she remembered.

"He said, 'If you go to a refuge, Child, Youth and Family will take our kids away.' There were lots of threats like that."

A month later, the final straw came. He was checking her cellphone for evidence of an affair. For most of their marriage he was convinced she was cheating. He was constantly checking her messages and calls, smashing her cellphone, buying her new ones.

On this particular night, he was more agitated about her "cheating" than ever. He kept her up until 5am demanding she confess. Then he decided it was time they slept. She said no, she had to take their son to school.


He said, "No school today." She did not put up a fight.

"The moment he fell asleep, I got up. I went into my son's room and started to pack. My son looked up at me and said, 'Are we leaving now?'"

She put the children in the car and, staying outside the house, called 111. "I need to leave. Now," she told the police. That was the last time I left."