Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Domestic violence is a spreading red stain on our society. Every day more horror stories are told, and the broken bodies pile up.

We can look from the outside and wonder why women stay with abusive partners. We used to think the answer to that was the women were weak. But it is much more complicated than that.

I was in an abusive relationship. It was over ten years ago and it lasted at five years. Now, for those who know me now, but not then, it will come as a shock that I would have stayed. It was simple, you always wake up thinking things will get better and that somehow it is your fault. I have had a career that has spanned many areas of interest and have been pretty successful. But I allowed myself to get into a relationship with someone who had counsellors who told me privately , that he would kill me if I stayed with him. They said he did not love me - his was an obsession. I should have seen it - I was working in a prison and had seen so many times the results of obsessive "love."

Sometimes the violence was obtuse, drunken rages, punching seventeen holes in the walls of a house I had just redecorated. It was when it involved my son that the tide turned. He was drunk, we argued and he pulled a carving knife on me and my son stepped in between us. I called the police and left him that week. He spent a year doing anger management and stopped drinking.

His family and friends said he was ok and maybe we should give it another go. I did.

It was the dumbest decision of my life. He started drinking again - never with me but I smelt it on him. I knew I had to go. Someone offered me a job in Wellington in October and I literally ran away - I went home for Christmas and we went away on the boat. I told him that it was really over and I needed to make a new life. He pulled a gun on me. There was just him and me in a quiet inlet. I talked him down. The next day I got to a plane and flew out and never looked back. I have seen him from time to time and now wonder what I ever saw in him.

So why do we stay with abusive men? I don't know the answer to that - for me, I just thought he would change and it would come right. I think that some men do get a handle on their violence and can change. But if they continue to drink and take drugs no manner of counselling will change anyone.

So White Ribbon day is the day I remember an ugly chapter in my past and know I wont ever let it happen to me again.


Mark said...

Bravo. We need more visibility of good news stories regarding abuse so that we all can see that something can be done and don't just get overwhelmed by the horror of it all.

I'm sure posting about something like that can't be easy, so thanks.

PM of NZ said...

Well said BB. That must have been hard to pen, but says a lot about your inner strength.

Having grown up in a large family where such violence and abuse reigned supreme for many years the fallout continue decades later.

Whilst luckily never drunken rage, physical violence was, as was the norm for the era in many families behind closed doors. And we knew it went on next door too.

My mother tried many times to leave, he always found a way to get her back to look after the kids.

Maybe that is why in NZ so many now feature in all the worst statistics as families go their own isolated ways.

My life changing point was when as a young teenager, I shopped my father to the cops for his aggro. After his 2 hour walk home from the cop shop, conditions at home never improved and I shortly left after only to return for very short periods on my terms.

Subsequently our family is not and will never be what would be termed as close. The effects are still being felt today where I wouldn't even know what nieces and nephews I might have in this small country. And I have no interest in finding out, I might add.

Thank you breathing life into this subject.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Statictically speaking, women are more violent to men than men to woman.


Saturday, July 10, 1999
Women emerge as aggressors in Alberta survey. 67% of women questioned say they started severe conflicts

Brad Evenson and Carol Milstone
National Post

OTTAWA - Women are just as violent to their spouses as men, and women are almost three times more likely to initiate violence in a relationship, according to a new Canadian study that deals a blow to the image of the male as the traditional domestic aggressor.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the study, however, is the source of the data -- a 1987 survey of 705 Alberta men and women that reported how often males hit their spouses.

Although the original researchers asked women the same questions as men, their answers were never published until now.

When the original Alberta study was published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science in 1989, it was taken up by feminist groups as evidence of the epidemic of violence against women.

The researchers, Leslie Kennedy and Donald Dutton, say they were primarily interested in male-to-female violence at the time.

Unknown said...

Violence will not be arrested in NZ until we take out the Gender and race arguments

Stop the violence inflicted on our Families by those who live on the profits and wages created by NZ Law and Social Policy, bureaucrats, Judges, and their hirelings, and enshrine Preferential Equal Shared Parenting, preferably HandsOnEqualParenting into ALL Law and Social Policy effecting Families

We will then have, Mum, Dad and all 4 Grand’s caring for our Kids were possible and thus little chance of the odd nutter not being noticed before any real damage is done - Onward - JimBWarrior

Deborah said...

I'm lost for words, BB - I want to say something about how sad your post is, and how courageous you have been, both in getting out and staying out, and in telling the story. Thank you.

Keeping Stock said...

Excellent post BB, and I suspect that you have dispelled more than a few myths about Domestic Violence today. Congratulations for having the courage to be upfront about your own unhappy experiences. Kia kaha!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your frankness, BB.

I see abused women depressingly often in the emergency department. My advice is always the same. Leave.

In 27 years of practicing medicine I have not seen one wife abuser change - not a solitary one. Sad fact.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

You say the thing that turned the tide was the threat of mortal danger against your son. The gun episode seems not to rate as high as a motivator. Is this true?

You implied that you're now "cured".

From what?

What was it exactly that made you impervious to what other people would think is basic reasoning?

Are you cured from loving your son, and instead now hold your own life in higher regard?

While it's possible, I doubt you no longer love your son.

What I'd like to know from your story is what was this element of your psyche that could project the value of your own life onto your son, but now doesn't - or at least you imply it doesn't.

Do you think this could element re-emerge, disguised within another usually harmless emotional trait?

Madeleine said...

Excellent post BB.

I have avoided telling my own story on my blog for fear of how it would make me look - you know, the claim that only dumb and weak women stay so therefore I must be dumb and weak...

I know that this assumption is, like you said, much more complicated than that, but still I held held back.

On reading what you wrote I realised that if those of us who are strong and not dumb speak out then those women reading us who are stuck might find strength and those who don't get it might understand.