She was only 14 years old when she met the man who would destroy her life.
Back then she was happy, confident and carefree. She remembered dreaming about weddings and looking at bridal gowns through a shop window with her sister, picking out what she'd wear one day when she was walking down the aisle.
She was looking forward to the future - until Richard George Apperley entered the picture.
Apperley, who met his victim in the 1990s, was sentenced today for decades of horrific rapes and physical abuse committed against multiple women.
The woman, who has name suppression, is 39-year-old Apperley's first documented victim.
She was subjected to years of repeated violent rapes, degrading behaviour, and physical abuse, something she was able to gain closure on today when Apperley was put behind bars for as long as he's considered dangerous to society.
Apperley has pleaded guilty to fourteen charges of rape, unlawful sexual connection, attempted sexual violation, assault with a weapon, and possessing and making objectionable publications. Some of the charges represent numerous incidents of abuse.
He was sentenced in the High Court at Wellington today to preventive detention, an indeterminate sentence which allows the offender to be kept in prison for as long as is necessary, and allows them to be recalled to prison at any time after release.
As Justice Jill Mallon announced the sentence this afternoon, the public gallery at court was filled with a quiet chorus of celebratory whispers of "yes".
"I'm very happy with it," his first victim said after the sentencing.
"It actually felt like everything had been lifted off . . . it just felt like the whole weight was just gone.
"To me, this is the door closing, that it can't happen again, it's done with and this is a chance to finally close that door."
The woman's father died some years ago, but she felt he was with her today at the sentencing and would have closure as well.
Physically with her were her three adult sons, one of whom stood and rubbed her back as she addressed her victim impact statement to Apperley where he sat in the dock.
"I did not know ugliness before you," she told him.
"This all changed after the first time you raped me."
Worthless. Mentally scarred. Drugged up to the eyeballs. These were the words she used in court to describe how she felt and what she went through as a result of Apperley's monstrous actions.
Not only that, but she blamed herself for the "horrendous abuse" he went on to inflict on others after she left him. Now she knows better.
"The only person to blame is yourself . . . No one else made you do it but you," she said.
Apperley's crimes include raping the woman while she was pregnant and punching her in the stomach, threatening to abort her unborn child if she fought him, and bringing another man back to her house so they could both rape her.
Some of his victims told police of being forcefully raped several times a week for months and years while being subjected to degrading and painful behaviour.
Apperley has previously spent time in prison for abducting and raping a 15-year-old girl he found home alone, a crime he committed when he was 19.
While he spent time in jail, his first victim tried to put her life back together.
Like most of the other victims, she suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, fell into a pattern of drug-taking, and has struggled to find healthy relationships.
It's been seven years since police contacted her and she revealed the "heinous offending" she'd been subjected to.
"I started it, I wanted to see it through to the end, that's something I've set my mind on," she told media.
She recommended other people who have been the victims of sexual violence get in touch with support services before contacting police, but that pursuing prosecution was "definitely worth it".
"From today [we] will go on and live fulfilling lives," she said at the end of her victim impact statement.
"You are not a part of any of our futures ever."
Another one of his victims explained in court how Apperley took advantage of her at her lowest point.
"You were incredibly manipulative," she said.
"You made me believe that it was my duty to make you happy, that I had to please and serve you . . . you made me feel like an object, not a person, and you did this on purpose."
She battled through her mental health problems after leaving him to find success in tertiary studies, but when she was contacted by police who were investigating Apperley, her mental state spiralled.
She had to put her PhD studies on hold while she dealt with the trauma again, and said she struggled to go to work, then to leave her house, then to even leave her bedroom.
"All because of you, Ricky, I nearly took my own life," she said.
"I hope that you never ever have the opportunity to hurt another innocent girl again."
Another one of his victims spoke of the first time Apperley raped her, and the whirlwind of emotions she experienced afterwards, including confusion, anger and shame.
"It was like a living nightmare . . . I stuffed it away," she said.
Any women who have had experiences with Apperley they may wish to speak to police about are encouraged to come forward, no matter how insignificant they think it may be.
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 get help or information:
• Rape Crisis Line - 0800 883 300
• National Sexual Harm Helpline - 0800 044 334
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Pet Refuge petrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz