One day in early May a woman woke up and read the Herald on her phone.
She did that most days, but what she saw that particular morning changed her life forever.
She read a story from the We're Better Than This series about family violence and realised - "this is my life".
For the next week she woke every morning and reached for her phone, reading more and more about family harm and intimate partner violence.
Then, she made a decision.
No longer would she live in fear of her partner.
No longer would she let him subject her to physical and psychological abuse, be threatened, isolated, stalked or cyber bullied.
She was done.
"Right now, this moment, I'm smiling. I have butterflies in my stomach. I'm really looking forward to the rest of my life now. I feel powerful," she said in an email to the Herald that morning.
"I will leave him... I'm saying right now that I am better than this."
The woman did leave her partner - then she left her city and her old life behind and started afresh.
Six months later she is "loving life".
"I'm here in beautiful (her new location), feeling just so relaxed," she said.
"I have two part-time jobs here and in the new year I will establish my business. For now I'm just cruising.
"I can go anywhere I want and not worry about him turning up."
After she left her ex-partner attempted to lure her home, promising he would change, sending flowers and apologising for his abuse.
It was hard, but she stood her ground and refused him at every turn.
"I changed my email and address and phone number again... He also had other friends sending me nasty emails so I just deleted everything.
She looks back at her old life and finds it hard to believe she lived it for so long.
"At the time I wrote to you, I felt like such an idiot. Like, how did I end up in that situation.
"I'm in my 40s and I was with a man that acted like a teenager. I acted the same. I let it all go, I made excuses for his behaviour - all the time.
"How did I end up there?"
She is now looking forward to a Christmas without fear, threats and violence - and more importantly, the rest of her life.
She has reconnected with her family and friends who she was isolated from during the relationship and now enjoys weekends instead of dreading them.
This woman is no longer a victim of harm, she is a survivor.
"I'm breathing again," she said.
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 crisis line 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. Crisis line 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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