Senior crime reporter Anna Leask pens an open letter to the survivors of serial sex offender Colin Mitchell

To the women who survived Colin Jack Mitchell.

Thank you.

Because of your bravery, he has been jailed indefinitely.

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Because of your strength, he will not be able to harm me - or any other women, ever again.

Because of you this predatory sex offender who has been raping, beating and threatening women for more than three decades is exactly where he should be.

Mitchell was sentenced today to preventive detention for the kidnapping and assault of a 23-year-old woman at a West Auckland quarry in 2017 and the rape of another woman in 1992.

The sentence means he will stay in jail until the Parole Board deems him no longer a risk to the community.

I believe, after hearing in court about Mitchell's complete denial and minimisation of his crimes, that day will never come.

Mitchell has been raping women for most of his adult life.

In 1984, 1992 and 2017 he picked up women - all young, on their own and out at night.

He drove them to secluded, dark areas.

He beat all of them, he raped two of them.

One of them was raped twice, sodomised and told that if she went to the police he would get his mates to find her and attack her again - but worse.

Mitchell was - is - a predator, a sexual deviant, a man who is a danger and a menace to women.

But now he is off the streets because of the amazing wāhine who refused to let him win.

I sat and listened to their evidence at Mitchell's trial, heard the fear in their voices, saw their tears and felt their anger.

I cannot begin to imagine what it takes out of a woman to stand up in court and relive her sexual violation over and over again, to be questioned and challenged on the facts in front of strangers and in front of the monster responsible.

I hope I never have to know how that feels.

But what I do know is that because they had the courage and determination to share their stories, Mitchell's reign of rape and terror has ended.

I know that because they were tenacious and strong, that Mitchell will never be able to drag me off the street and attack or violate me as I walk home at night.

I know that my little niece, my best friend's daughter, my cousins, my friends, colleagues and neighbours will never have to encounter this vile offender.

To those survivors - who from what I have seen and heard are most certainly not victims - thank you for using your voice so bravely to keep other women safe.

Thank you for being strong enough to put this offender where he belongs.

Thank you, so much.

If you have been sexually assaulted - no matter when - please remember it's not your fault and there is help out there.

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.

Where to go for help or more information:

Speak to someone you trust - a friend, teacher, family member or counsellor.

They will be able to help you contact the services you need.

There is information on the New Zealand Police website about reporting sexual offending or abuse, with advise for victims.