5 Mar 2018

Domestic abuse nightmare: 'He just smashed it across my face'

7:24 am on 5 March 2018

A woman left blind and disfigured by her abusive partner is speaking out in the hope it will help others.

Domestic violence

Photo: 123RF

The offender, who can't be named to protect their children's identities, was last month sentenced to 12 years in jail on 38 charges of abuse - he is eligible for parole after six.

The woman, who cannot be named, eventually escaped after 16 years. Police have described it as one of the worst domestic violence cases they have seen.

Sitting in her armchair and looking out the window to the park next door, the woman - who calls herself a survivor - describes how she met the man who would go on to horrifically abuse her.

"I met him in 1995 a week before my 21st birthday, he was lovely, nice, everything was great we moved in together after two weeks and after five months I was pregnant.

"Everything was fine until we moved to Auckland, I met his brother and one of his brother's friends who I had known for a long time, yeah that's when it started."

She said it wouldn't take much to trigger the abuse, such as talking to a neighbour or family member.

Before long she had distanced herself from friends and family and the only person she had was him.

During the trial she told the court how it would start with a slap but sometimes it escalated so badly she would end up tied up in the back yard with a dog chain around her neck.

"He would throw things at me, anything he could get his hands on - one day it was a soup bowl full of food, he just smashed it across my face."

She gets emotional recalling the story, touching the scar which remains down the side of her jaw.

She has visible physical scars left from the abuse which will never go away; she's blind in her right eye; her left ear is deformed after getting hit so many times and her wrist is bent an odd way from when it broke.

"He broke it and I was screaming in pain but I couldn't go get help, he wouldn't let me go to the hospital so I just taped a piece of wood to it to try and heal it myself."

It wasn't until she started a hospitality course in 2014 that people started to notice the abuse.

"One day I showed up to class with his boot-print imprinted on my face, he stood on my head the night before and I just couldn't get it off.

"One of the staff pulled me aside and told me how things were, she said if I didn't leave him what kind of example was that setting for my children, especially my daughters."

A lump appears in her throat as she explains how one day she went to her course and never went home.

"The hardest thing was leaving the kids, I went and hid at a friend's place before moving across town - it was another six months before I could get my kids back.

"I had to leave, it got to the point where things were so bad he was going to kill me or I was going to kill him."

She said leaving and setting up a new life was the hardest thing she ever did.

"It was easier to stay in the abusive relationship than think about getting out, it was 16/17 years of my life and then I left and was all alone, I didn't know what to do.

"I still hear his voice sometimes and parts of me feel bad for him that he is in jail - but at the same time I get angry at his sentence. The court heard from me, from my kids, all the things that he did to us and he only gets 12 years - it feels like our lives are worth nothing."

Considering the circumstances she's remarkably upbeat about everything.

"I'm back with my family, I've got my kids and we can do whatever we like, we are free.

"I didn't realise how bad my situation was until it went to court and I had to relive it on the stand, that's why I want to tell my story because if I can survive anyone can.

"If I can help one person leave an abusive situation, I will be happy."

Where to get help:

Women's Refuge: (0800 733 843)

It's Not OK (0800 456 450)

Shine: 0508 744 633

Victim Support: 0800 650 654

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.