As far as Kimberley White can remember, things seemed to be fine when horse breeder Greg Meads came into her mum's life back in the mid-1990s.
Kimberley, now 18, was about 4 years old when her mother, Helen, married Greg Meads, the man who this week was found guilty in the High Court at Hamilton of her murder.
"We always called him dad, he would buy us birthday presents and talk with us but he wasn't the kind of person who would say 'I love you' or give you hugs."
And so it went for a few years. A new addition - Samantha - came about two years later, Kimberley and brother Michael were happy at school and the Meads began to have some success with their Matamata stud farm.
Kimberley noticed a change when she was about 9.
"I basically became old enough to become a labourer and all I'd do was work while my friends were playing.
"It was the same for mum, she always seemed to be working around the farm and he'd just do as he pleased."
Meads, she said, was an organised type who liked things done his way - usually by others.
He was also an astute businessman, "basically a tight-arse".
"If a trainer had four of his horses he'd try and pay for two ... he was always looking for deals like that."
Kimberley could never recall a continued period of abuse from Meads towards his mother but thinking back said it was clear her mum was hiding this from her children.
"Like I said, he was a cold and calculated person. She couldn't do anything for herself unless she did something for Greg first," she said.
"If we spoke at the dinner table mum would say, 'Shut up, Greg is watching television' ... I was scared of him."
By 2007 cracks started to appear in the facade. Kimberley remembers being awakened by her stepfather calling her mum "a dirty effing slut".
As he had done and would continue to do, Meads had been trawling through text messages on his wife's phone when he found a picture of an unknown man on it.
"He accused her of doing the dirty on him. He basically thought that she had had sex with some guy in the back of our car."
David White, Helen Meads' father, said Meads had been hitting his daughter for years including a severe beating in August 2008.
Helen Meads had just told him she wanted to leave.
The beating crushed her larynx and broke her nose.
Helen Meads kept the abuse hidden from her daughters and despite wanting to leave Meads, she couldn't.
"She hated being treated like a nobody but she couldn't leave him because she didn't have anything or any money - Greg made her sell everything she had when they moved in together.
"It was ridiculous, Greg was paying her something like $12 an hour for the work she was doing."
Kimberley's advice for women going through a similar ordeal is simple: "Just get out."
"We should have seen the signs, the body language. They never talked about their feelings for each other, it was always about business."
Now a trainee teacher at Massey University, Kimberley said she had not spoken with Meads since he dropped her off at school in Matamata on September 23 last year - the day he killed her mum.
"I'll never have anything to do with him ever again. Sam might when she is older, but that's her choice."
Meads is to be sentenced in December.