A woman has been abused, threatened and tracked down by her ex-partner - her sister worries he will kill her one day.

In a frank and explosive letter, the 26-year-old sister* has written to the New Zealand police to vent her frustration about the lack of action being taken to protect her.

After the man breached a protection order, he was let off with a warning. In a response to the letter, police told the Herald that "in hindsight" he should have been charged.

The sister says her letter has been viewed and shared thousands of times on social media.

Here it is:

Dear New Zealand Police

I've been livid about this for weeks and haven't had the ability to focus coz of the fury I felt. But now I have the ability, I want to say one thing.

My sister is going to be killed by her ex and it will all be your fault.

See, my sister is a classic case of domestic violence. She had to secretly move away to a location he did not know about in order to escape him. He beat her. He threatened her. He made her feel so small and worthless that she was Stockholm-syndromed into thinking that was her lot in life.

But then he threatened her while she was holding her newborn baby. She said she was going to leave, and we, her family, helped her. And then she was able to breathe for a moment. It felt great.

Advertisement

He found her though. He got her new address. It doesn't matter how, it matters that he had it. And since then life has been hell.

He has contacted my sister and tried to use things to blackmail her; things like threats, guilt trips ('adopt the boys out coz I don't want anything to do with them') and the ashes of their deceased baby which are still in his possession. Holding the ashes of their son over her head like a bargaining tool.

He wouldn't participate in the court process, refused to do the court-ordered non-violence programme. Get this, he said he wasn't angry now, they weren't together any more and he wasn't angry. He didn't need to do it. As if it was that simple, like he could pick and choose when he was angry, like it was somehow her presence in his life that made him lose it. Which is utter bullshit.

He threatened her while she was holding her newborn baby. So she decided to leave and her family helped her. Photo / File
He threatened her while she was holding her newborn baby. So she decided to leave and her family helped her. Photo / File

He's breached his protection order constantly since November 2016. Up to four times a week! So this isn't something new. He would ring her at 4am, he would text her, he would ask if she had a new boyfriend - if the kids had a new dad.

In the interest of full disclosure, she didn't contact the police for every breach; she contacted the police for most of them. But even if she contacted the police for one, five, 10 or a hundred of them shouldn't he have been at least arrested?

Finally, after months of saying they were going to find him, the police rang her and said they were going to see him. The police asked if my sister wanted him to be arrested, which she was hesitant on but did eventually say she wanted him to be arrested.

And I was like 'Got him! It's taken ages but we got you! The system works! You're gonna get locked up for at least 24hrs and my sister's protection will be taken seriously.'

But it wasn't. Coz he got a warning. A pathetic excuse of a consequence. A god damn warning.

Advertisement

What really sucks is I trusted the system. I trusted the process. I kept advocating to ring it in, to do the 'right' things, to talk to the 'right' people. I teach my son about serving and tell him that's what police officers do.

Seriously NZ police, do people have to die like the countless women who lose their lives to abusive partners and ex-partners in order for you to protect and serve? Seriously this failure of a government, do people have to die in order for you to wake the f*** up?

I'm not getting at the individual police officers because I know police officers and they are good people. I'm getting at this f***** up system that spins political speak instead of making meaningful change.

I hope my sister doesn't die, because there will be two parties I'll be holding over the fire.

This system that under-resources police, has massive labour shortages coz the department is so f****** cheap and lets repeat offenders get away with shit over and over again.

I'm a firm believer in rehabilitation over prison. I'm a firm believer in people being able to change their behaviour. I'm a firm believer in consequences for actions. However, I now understand why people in the community argue that rehabilitation for offences is the soft option, the weak option, the cop-out excuse of an option.

Because if the police can't enforce something like a court-ordered non-violence programme it is the soft option. If there are no consequences for shitty behaviour that hurts innocent people then yes it is the weak option.

If there is no follow-through, when you put someone in a position where they have to flee for their life with their children, then it is a cop-out. It is disgusting. It is terrifying. And it scares me to my core.

New Zealand is the absolute worst when it comes to domestic violence. Every five and a half minutes the police respond to an incident of domestic violence.

But if this is how they respond I'm not bloody surprised that the rates are so high.

I hope my sister doesn't die, because there will be two parties I'll be holding over the fire.

Do god-damn better.

And to those in similar situations, the poor treatment by your ex and the powers that be is not your fault. Stay strong.

*The Herald has chosen not to name the woman or her sister.

Police response

Senior Sergeant Robbie Hermann said protection order breaches were treated very seriously by police and investigated thoroughly.

"Police acknowledges the victim's concerns in regards to how this issue was dealt with.

"We are working with her to ensure she feels safe and understands why the decision to issue a warning was made.

"The decision to warn in this instance was based on a set of circumstances presented to the attending officers at the time. In hindsight, we acknowledge the suspect should have been charged.

"We will be working with the victim to ensure she is better supported in future."

Police attend about 118,000 events of family violence a year, which worked out to be about one every five minutes, Hermann said.

We cannot do this alone and it is imperative that we work actively with other Government and non-Government agencies in tackling family harm to achieve the best outcomes for families.

In response to the woman's comments that police were under-resourced and as a result, repeat offenders were getting away with crimes, Hermann said that wasn't the case.

"Family harm is a key focus for police and we have dedicated staff working in this area in every district.

"Police are continually seeking ways to improve what we do and we have a significant programme of change to improve our service delivery when we are called to a family harm investigation.

"We cannot do this alone and it is imperative that we work actively with other Government and non-Government agencies in tackling family harm to achieve the best outcomes for families."

He said family harm was a complex problem that touched all sectors of New Zealand communities.

He urged anyone to contact police if they or someone they knew had immediate fears for their safety and encouraged people to take advice from campaigns such as It's Not Okay and E Tu Whanau.

In response to the woman's claim police could not enforce a court-ordered non-violence programme, Hermaan said the orders were put in place by the courts but police could be used where necessary.

Police had seen an increase in reporting of family harm but that did not correspond with a proportionate increase in violent offences being identified.

It indicated that reporting was happening earlier and more often, he said.

Where to get help

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours or friends to ring for you

• Run outside and head for where there are other people

• Scream for help so 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 crisisline 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. Crisisline 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