A Te Awamutu woman whose cousin was murdered is using her platform as a beauty queen to raise awareness of domestic violence.
Destiny Spence, 20, lost her cousin Tara Brown four years ago in a brutal road-rage attack.
Tara was a New Zealander living in Queensland with her young daughter.
In September 2015 her former boyfriend beat her to death after running her car off the road. He is serving a life sentence for her murder.
Destiny, who was close to her cousin, says the incident has deeply affected her.
She now wants to raise awareness of violence against women by sharing her story.
Destiny was named the World Supermodel Teen Oceania 2017-2018 in the Miss Five Crowns New Zealand beauty pageant.
The pageant is billed as offering a performance platform to build personal skills and a step towards a brighter future and bigger dreams.
Destiny says the pageant has allowed her to develop new skills associated with public engagement, charity work and self-confidence. It has given her the courage to publicly share about her cousin for the first time.
"I am only one voice out of millions, but making a change starts with one voice."
Destiny says the violent act that killed her cousin broke her heart and ripped the family apart.
"One act left a young child without a mother — Tara's daughter's life has changed forever because of one person's actions."
Destiny wants to share her story in the hope that victims would feel encouraged to speak out.
"If you are being abused, talk to someone, anyone — an adult, police officer or counsellor."
"If you are the perpetrator — stop. Take a step back and think about how you are damaging someone's life."
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 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 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