As a child she endured horrific rape and sexual abuse at the hands of Rotorua businessman Bryan Hughes. Today Candy Shavin is still inspiring other abuse survivors so that their lives can be good again. She catches up with journalist Kelly Makiha after speaking out earlier this year about the "skilled manipulator's" early release from prison.
A woman abused by Rotorua businessman Bryan Hughes says she refuses to be the shell of a person she once was.
Candy Shavin (nee Eum) made headlines last year when she spoke out about the shock early prison release of Hughes.
Described in a New Zealand Parole Board decision as a "skilled manipulator", Hughes was released on parole in December 2018 after serving four years and one month of an 11-year prison sentence - less than half his sentence.
He was jailed after pleading guilty to 21 sexual abuse charges, including rape, involving two girls.
Nineteen of the charges related to offending against Shavin, who was aged 12 to 16 at the time of the offending in Rotorua between 1998 and 2003.
High-profile rape victim advocate Louise Nicholas said at the time in her opinion his early release was "absolutely disgusting".
The Rotorua Daily Post broke the news about Hughes' early release and Shavin spoke publicly about the impact it had on her.
Shavin said it had now been just over a year since his early release.
"From the comments online and the messages, the community was outraged. It made me see how the system that allowed his early release took no responsibility to help the community accept him back. As for me, I continue to put all my energy into truly living life. I refuse to be the shell of a person I once was."
Shavin said as a survivor of child sexual abuse, she lived a life in secret and pain.
"Keeping the pain inside created so much pain and numbness at the same time. My body physically and mentally was breaking down from the stress of it all. I will never regret speaking out. It was my gateway out of the hell I was in and has allowed me to gain control of my own life. No matter what happens, even his early release, it doesn't take away from who I am or the path I choose to lead."
The offending came to light 10 years after it happened, when Shavin found courage to complain to police.
Shavin applied to the court to have her automatic name suppression lifted so she could speak out about what happened in the hope it would help other sexual abuse survivors.
Some of Hughes' charges were representative charges, meaning the offending happened more than once. Hughes was aged between 43 and 48 at the time.
He was jailed in March 2015 but his offending was not made public until July that year when a High Court judge dismissed an appeal for him to have continued name suppression. However, Hughes' business links were permanently suppressed.
The Parole Board decision described concerns including that Hughes had "distorted views" where he viewed Shavin as his girlfriend and felt entitled to engage in sexual activity with her.
The decision also said the board questioned Hughes closely about the fact he "minimised some of the intrusive acts" and his "cognitive distortions".
While he answered their questions, the decision noted Hughes was "skilled at deflecting questions that are uncomfortable" and had to be refocused a number of times to ensure he answered specific questions put to him, the decision said.
It concluded Hughes would need to be closely monitored once released because he had demonstrated in the past he was a "skilled manipulator and deceives others close to him".
Nicholas, who supported Shavin during the court case, spoke out earlier this year about her outrage at his early release, saying there were clearly concerns so he should have at least served two thirds of his sentence.
Meanwhile, Shavin told the Rotorua Daily Post her past would not control or ruin her.
"I live in Melbourne now and choose to never visit Rotorua again. My focus now is to live, to give, to love and to share that with the people I love and care about.
"People ask me, 'do you forgive him?' And no, I haven't and I'm not ashamed to say I probably will never. I have accepted what has happened, as it made me the person I am."
Shavin said her past had helped inspire others.
"I don't have to be anything for anyone as I live by my own rules and expectations. I'm not perfect but I don't have to be. Some days I cry, some days are harder than others, but it's okay."
She had strong messages to fellow rape victims.
"Speak out because you deserve to truly live your life. You deserve to heal and experience all the joy that the world has to offer."
She said getting over any sexual abuse was not an easy path.
"But it is worth it, and you deserve it. Do it not only for you but to help inspire the other victims who are suffering to speak their truth. If you fear that you will lose important relationships, friends and family members from doing do, then they don't deserve you in their life and I promise you, by speaking your truth and living your truth, you will know the people that are true to you."
She said she was proud of everyone who spoke out and she encouraged them to seek help in their journey to heal.
"Surround yourself with positive people. Take one day at a time and remember it's okay to have hard days. Taking baby steps is still moving one step away from the hell you were once in. You'll get there."
She said her life was now the best it had ever been. She was "madly in love" with her new husband, Daniel, who supported her in every way.
"He has been my rock through the reporting procedure and my rock in life. We have just bought a home and we run a business together which supports not-for-profits."
In Shavin's free time she was a pole dance instructor at Pole Diva's Richmond.
"It's my passion to help women feel empowered, strong and to express themselves in whatever way they want without judgment or shame. Pole dancing has helped me so much in my journey to healing and becoming an instructor allows me to give back."
Shavin said she chose to be happy no matter what Hughes did to her.
"My life will go on and I will continue to live the life I truly deserve."
Where to get help
To contact police, call 111
Rape Crisis NZ: 0800 883300 or for a local branch detail, visit www.rapecrisisnz.org.nz.
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline Safe to Talk: 0800 044 334 or text 4334. ?
Alternatively contact your local police station.