Anna Smiles Again

A redheaded women in her 50s in a wide brim hat, looks at the camera with a small smile.

Anna’s* journey with Aviva began “many years ago,” when Aviva was still known as Christchurch Women’s Refuge.

“I had a marriage which wasn’t very happy. There was physical and mental abuse. I had two small children then, and I was trapped. I rang Women’s Refuge and they helped me get away, and eventually get accommodation, and some furniture for me and my children.”

Anna actually took part in the first adult education group Aviva ever ran. She describes what she learnt on that course as, “amazing, absolutely life changing.” After that, she says, “life was great for a long time.”

A little over a year ago, Anna’s son, now a young adult, started to repeat the behaviours he’d learnt from his father as a child. After he assaulted Anna, she was forced to get a protection order, and got back in touch with Aviva. 

“I tried by myself to get legal help, but I was just going round in circles. But when I came to Aviva, I was in the right place. […] My support worker was really supportive; I could talk to her and tell her everything. She always made sure that there was something [Aviva] could do to help. And they were so supportive of my youngest son too.”

Anna’s older son is doing better now, and is no longer using alcohol as a coping mechanism, which had been contributing to the violence. While he no longer lives with her, Anna can support him again. 

However, it was during this incredibly challenging time that Anna faced another difficult experience. 

“It was a Friday afternoon,” she tells us, “I was heading home after work, when my car was hit on the driver’s side by a four-wheel drive.”

Anna was lucky to survive, but sustained multiple injuries, including breaking her teeth and a severe concussion. She was determined to go back to work as soon as she could, because “when you’re on a single income, it’s really hard – you’ve got no back up.” After trying to return to the office, she was forced to continue working on her recovery as her concussion was too severe. 

Anna needed to save money for dentures – although ACC covered half the cost, she still needed to find another $800. 

“But it was impossible to save. I was on 80% of my salary, and then when I tried to go back to work, Covid meant that I was on a further wage reduction. I rang Work & Income, but they couldn’t help because I was above their threshold.”

That’s when Anna applied to Aviva GoodLoans, a service started in partnership with Good Shepherd NZ to help people overcome the enduring effects of financial abuse on their wellbeing. Approximately 95% of our Aviva family violence clients have also experienced some form of financial or economic violence and struggle with debt, limited income, and a lack of assets because of it.

“My loan worker made me feel really accepted. He was kind and caring, and so good with information. He explained things so well and told me everything I need to know. We went through my budget, which was really helpful too, in helping me to find ways I could save.”

Anna was recently approved for a loan, which means she’ll finally be able to get her teeth mended.

“I try not to smile because of my teeth. The great thing is, I will be able to smile again.”


*Not her real name.