‘I have never been so scared in my life,’ woman told police after man’s alleged violence

A woman prosecutors say was continuously manipulated and abused by her partner has told a court about a night she thought she was going to die.

She has also recalled how difficult it was to leave the man, saying that night she was “frozen in fear”.

The man – who has name suppression – faces a slew of serious physical and sexual violence charges.

He denies all eight charges; two of sexual violation, three of assault, two of assault with a weapon and one of threatens to kill.

He is facing a judge-alone trial before Justice Timothy Brewer in the High Court at Auckland.

Crown prosecutor Fiona Culliney said the defendant and the victim had moved in together quickly, with his financial dependence making her feel trapped and it harder to leave.

During the short relationship the woman was continuously manipulated and abused, Culliney said.

The prosecutor said one night in January 2017, the complainant felt he “nearly killed her” and he forced sexual activity after threatening to kill the woman and her family.

When she ended the relationship later that year she went to the police and made a complaint. A protection order was granted.

Defence lawyer Belinda Sellars, QC, said: “He accepts it was difficult relationship but he utterly rejects that he was physically or sexually abusive in any way.”

In a police interview the woman, whose name is protected under law, said one day she had come home and found him slumped asleep on the couch.

Quietly, she sat nearby on the edge of the couch.

“You are going to die today,” she said, recalling his words after he woke.

He chased her around the house with a knife, she said, as she tried to keep him at arm’s length.

Next thing she knew they were on the floor and he was on top of her, she said.

“He said ‘It’s time to go to sleep’,” she said.

“I have never been so scared in my life. I managed to wriggle away.

“I haven’t told a soul what he did next.”

He threatened to kill her and her family, she said, forcing her into sexual acts.

The next morning she said he told her they were not discussing it and “it didn’t happen”.

She told police she had kept the letter she wrote while he was passed out, stating her account of the night.

“And I signed it because I honestly thought that night I was going to die and if my body was found people would need to know that it was him that did it.

“A piece of me died that night and I lost my fighting spirit.”

Earlier in her police interview she told of how they had moved in together at a time when they both needed to find a place to live.

The court heard strained finances were a source of early arguments as he did not contribute money as he promised and he also isolated her from her family over the holidays.

“He was in my ear about my parents,” she said.

She said she could never understand why he would get so angry, when she was a loving partner.

There were nights when she was waiting for him to come home that she would lie in bed listening to every single sound, the court heard.

There were several times when he locked her out on the balcony, she said, recalling a time it was dark and raining.

“It was like a game to him. He loved seeing me cry. He loved seeing me upset. He loved seeing me scared.”

He loved it because for him it was power and control, she said.

During cross-examination, Sellars questioned whether the locking the balcony door was a joke they played on each other.

“No it wasn’t,” the woman replied.

The defence lawyer also asked about how the first time the complainant says she was threatened by the defendant with a knife her immediate reaction was to move out.

“Correct,” the woman said.

Sellars said the woman returned to the house and says she was then threatened with a knife several times a week.

“And you didn’t move out? You just let it happen?,” Sellars asked.

“I’m suggesting that just doesn’t make sense – it’s not correct.”

“Anyone who has been in a domestic violence relationship would know the fear that they have been put under,” the complainant said.

Sellars also asked the woman about the night in January 2017.

“It sticks in your mind as the worst night of your relationship?”

“Yes,” the woman replied.

“And while he’s passed out you don’t leave … You sit down and you write a letter.

“Well I am suggesting to you that’s just not credible.”

“It happened,” the woman replied.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – DO YOU NEED HELP?

If you’re in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don’t stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it’s not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day – 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Women’s Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 – 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It’s Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz

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