"There should be no shame in experiencing violence; it could happen to anyone"

Jody Aviva

When Jody came to Aviva, she and her three kids were going through a really difficult time. A year later, they are feeling safer. Jody tells her story. 


‘At first, the abusive explosions weren’t all the time – he’d apologise and I’d think it was going to get better. But something that started out being every six months, became every month, then every week, then every day until it was just our normal way of life.’


Like so many people in abusive situations, Jody wanted to leave, but found it wasn’t easy. It took months of planning to be able to leave safely and she had to keep the details secret from her children.

‘The kids would ask, “how much longer do we have to live with Dad?” I’d tell them, “I have a plan, but I can’t tell you.”

The day that we left was amazing actually... I just wound down the window of the car, felt the breeze and felt good. I thought, I’m finally free.’


However, leaving was just the first step. Jody and her children still weren’t safe.

‘I tried to negotiate with him about the kids. But things went downhill so badly. It was pretty diabolical. I thought he was going to kill me. The kids thought he was going to burn the house down.

‘In the end I made my own application to the court for a Protection Order and it was granted.’


It was around this time that Jody was put in touch with Aviva.

‘At that point, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. The kids were immediately enrolled in the next Tamariki programme. The facilitators came round here and played with them, chatted with them and learnt about them. And so right from the start they were excited to go along.

‘It’s one thing me telling the kids that abuse is not normal or ok. But it’s different coming from outside the family. Aviva does that so well. The kids learnt their safety was really important and that they had choices.’


Jody describes how much her youngest has struggled in the last year.

‘My son loves his dad and wants to be with him… But Aviva has been super good in that – they have never demonized his dad, they’ve allowed him to love his dad but emphasised the importance of feeling safe.

He was struggling at school. He didn’t want to leave my side in case anything happened while he wasn’t there… He’d have nightmares.

He is just a different kid now, he’s confident, he’s got a bunch of friends. Last week he got citizen of the week – out of 500 kids. It was for things like being compassionate, being studious and trying hard. That was better than anything.

The transformation in all the kids is next level and I genuinely believe that a lot of that has to do with Aviva and the support that they have had – they are just lovely people.


Jody also worked with a support worker for adults.

‘She rang me and we talked for over an hour and she just listened. She validated the pain, my experiences, my choices, when for years I had been run down and belittled and told I was being oversensitive, any boundaries I had set were smashed. [In abusive relationships] your confidence gets knocked and you second guess all your decisions. It’s nice to hear someone tell you that you are right.

‘She also had an alarm put in. [Before that] I was not sleeping because I was panicking that he’d get in, I was having panic attacks. It was just awful.’


Jody still has a long road ahead of her, but she has support and things are better at home now.

‘As a family, we are happy and stable. Everything is predictable now. The kids are much calmer.’

‘There should be no shame. A lot of the problem is that nobody talks about it, but it can happen to anyone.  What I would say to other people is it doesn’t matter how long it has gone on for, or how different you’ve presented your situation to other people… speak up and reach out. Because what I have had from Aviva is nothing but unjudgmental support.’