Roz is Finally Feeling Safe at Home

Woman and Child

Since Roz undertook Aviva’s family violence education programme, she can recognise straight away those who haven’t in the Facebook support group she is part of. “They are still asking themselves what they have done wrong” she says. “They don’t realise that the problem isn’t them.”
Roz knows what it is like to blame and question yourself. She was with a person she describes as a narcissist for nine and a half years. During that time, they had had a daughter together, a sister for Roz’s older son.

Roz met her ex-partner when she was in her early 20s. When she caught him cheating on her 30th birthday, she made the decision to end the relationship; it took ten months to physically leave. “People say ‘why don’t you just leave?’. He had manipulated me for so long, saying ‘you can’t make it without me, no-one else is going to want you’ – you believe it. We had a child together and you’re going to lose a lot of people in your life – our daughter’s grandparents, her aunts and uncles – it’s like chopping off half of your life.”

When she did leave, the abuse got worse.[1]“I moved to a farm in Kaiapoi. He would come to my place at night and shine torchlight through the windows so I couldn’t sleep. He tried to take our daughter; turned the lights of my car on to run the battery flat; and took a log splitter to my front door to steal back the family dog.”

Roz went into a safe house several times. “Once whilst I was there, he rammed the farm gates with his SUV, then left two other gates open, letting the bull and dog out – he got run over. The second time I came home to a broken bedroom window.” He watched her house constantly, texting Roz demanding to know who was visiting. One day he called her over 200 times. Unsurprisingly, Roz had to take stress leave from her job.

Roz estimates that she called the Police at least 30 times. They issued Police Safety Orders, and she got trespass, protection and parenting orders. “None of it seemed to deter him.” Although Roz moved, her ex found out her new location. After picking her children up from the school bus one day, he chased them at 160km/hr. Roz moved again and had Whanau Protect security measures installed by the Battered Women’s Trust. Shortly after, she undertook Aviva’s 10-week education programme.

“I did group twice. The first time I didn’t take it all in and felt I needed to brush up on the skills I’d learnt. The education made me feel sane – I wasn’t the only one this happened to. I learned about the cycle of violence, the hearts and flowers tactics etc – everything. I think the education was great and I’d recommend it to everyone. I’m far more confident and resilient now.”

Roz’ son and daughter also did the ten-week Tamariki group. “My daughter was having nightmares and my son was very anxious about going out anywhere. I could see the growth slowly from the beginning of the programme and they still use the tools they learned in group. The anger rules help my daughter process and label her emotions, and my son now will remove himself from a situation that is upsetting him and get some space to get his mind straight.”

The harassment suddenly stopped two years ago, “but I still lock my door and am super-vigilant. I’ve changed my entire routine – when and where I shop, my phone number, everything. We’re recovering and life is a hell of a lot more peaceful. To someone else going through what I did I’d say there are lots of people and organisations to help you – let them. Use all the resources you are offered. You can do it, and life will get better.”

[1] 50% of Intimate Partner Violence deaths occur at the time of separation. (Family Violence Death Review Committee 4th report. (2014).)