New Zealand has a shameful domestic violence record, with police attending hundreds of incidents every day. Hawke’s Bay Today, in conjunction with Women’s Refuge, is turning the spotlight on the subject in a series where we will look at victims of abuse, how to get help and how the refuge works. Today, Alice Lock tells the story of a woman who found refuge after 15 years of her husband’s abuse.

A mother was subject to domestic violence for 15 years before she sought support from the Women's Refuge and fled her abusive husband.

"My anxiety levels were huge, I was living with depression, and I had the inability to sleep. I would go to bed worried and wake up stressed."

The woman, who wished not to be named, was subject to daily abuse and described those years as the worst of her life.

She had five kids to take care of and decided it was time to get her and the children out of the situation earlier this year.

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"It was just awful, I was [ground] down and needed to find somewhere stable where I could look after my kids and get my confidence back."

She built up the courage to pack up her things and sought support first from members of her family.

"I had family around so knew we could stay with them and it all started off fine but then they too became controlling and abusive, I was just not happy."

At the beginning of September the woman came in contact with an advocate from the Hastings Women's Refuge.

"I had been seeking help from some other organisations but I felt they were more focused on the children. I understood they came first but they seemed uninformed for the mums who came out of domestic violence, I almost felt disregarded."

She said the Women's Refuge understood domestic violence and what came from it, from a mother's point of view.

"The refuge kept in contact with me and knew my every move. They knew what I had been through and engaged with me in a calming tone and kept telling me everything would be okay."

An advocate from the refuge met the woman and her children at their residence before getting the family to move in to the refuge house three weeks ago.

"We had been living out of each others pockets for the last four months and now we can come home and relax. The staff have been amazing, so supportive and it is the best move we have ever made," she said.

"They constantly check to see if you're okay, offer all kinds of advice and even offer you transport and things for when you get your own place like bedding and furniture."

The children have been put in local schools and she now has a car to get around in.

"My confidence levels are starting to rise and my anxiety levels are decreasing with the help of the refuge. It is paramount that I am happy as when I am happy my family is happy."

"Having this support has made life a lot easier. We are looking at a four-bedroom home and with the help of the refuge I feel like things will fall into place."

Where to find help:

• If you need help, support, advice or more information, call the Crisis Support Line 24/7 on 0800 733 843, or the Hastings Women's Refuge office on (06) 870 6024.
• To donate, ring (06) 878 9519.

Hastings Women's Refuge popup shop: Drop off clothes or household goods to the shop at 108 Heretaunga St West, from 11am to 1pm.