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For the past 10+ years I was a victim of domestic violence.

My day-to-day life involved constant cleaning, cooking, taking care of my children (on my own) and making sure my ex-partner was well catered for.

During this time I thought, ‘if this is how my life is meant to be then why am I always feeling unhappy and hurt’ (whether it be bruised and sore on the outside or scarred emotionally on the inside). I knew then that this was not going to be a good environment for my children to live in or witness on a daily basis.

At school I had lots of hopes and dreams and even applied to Waikato University and Travel and Tourism in Auckland. Both times I was accepted but because I was in a relationship with my ex-partner (who did not want me to go) I chose to listen to him and turn down these opportunities that could have given me a better and brighter future.

One night while I was trying to get some rest my ex-partner decided to pick an argument with me and from past experience I knew where this was going to lead to so I called the police. Little did I know that after making that phone call it was going to change our lives (myself and my boys) for the better.

I was put into Te Whakaruruhau Women’s Refuge where I lived in their safe houses for 12 months. While in the safe house I was given endless support, opportunities and love from both staff and women.

An opportunity had arisen for myself and other women to cook for the staff of Te Whakaruruhau. Another woman and I were the only two left who seemed to be enjoying the experience, and for me I thought this was great!

A few years later I found myself out of violence and I knew how to keep my children and I safe. By this time I was working with Refuge and filling in as administration. I found this to be a challenge but knew in my heart that if I could beat domestic violence then the role would be a piece of cake.

I was approached by the managers of Te Whakaruruhau (Roni and Ariana) asking if I would be interested in RAW. To be honest I was not interested and did not have any idea about what the RAW programme was.

I thought, ‘well this could be another stepping stone in your life, so why not at least give it a go and take this very rare opportunity with both hands’.

It has been two weeks now and I am so glad to be a part of RAW and everything it has to offer. I have a mentor who I find very resourceful and just a pleasure to have met. This journey in my life has had its darkness and now my future is looking brighter as the days come.