Police were called after a man stabbed a dog to death after it attacked his wife.

Dad ‘broken’ over daughter’s abuse

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A Nelson father has been left frustrated with a court system that has continually failed to lock up the partner of his daughter, despite years of domestic abuse.

The father spoke openly with Nelson Weekly, alongside a friend of his daughter, who also fears for her friend’s safety. The Weekly cannot name any of the people involved due to ongoing legal issues and to protect the identity of the woman and a young child involved.

But both the woman’s father and the friend are concerned and upset that her partner has avoided jail despite numerous court appearances for violence.

The latest was late last year when the man appeared in the Nelson District Court for assault. He was given community service.

Within a month he would assault his partner again, this time in public, as well as damaging her vehicle.

The father says the violence has been ongoing for most of the seven years of their relationship.

“It’s been going on for a long time. As has his violence to other people as well, it’s not only domestic violence.”

The woman’s friend says she had tried to support her and urged her to leave her abusive partner, but she keeps getting drawn back in. “Last month, he turned up at a house that she was staying at, despite his bail conditions including he was to have no contact with her. He was playing mind games with her, alternately telling her she was an ugly piece of crap, and then telling her that she was his baby girl and he wished they could have gotten married.

“I called the police and they arrested him but he just got bail again the next day.”

The woman’s father says the abuse is physical and emotional. “He is constantly cheating on her too, and because he has managed to erode her self-esteem to an all-time low, he can pretty much get away with anything he wants. He’s just totally controlling.”

Nelson Women’s and Children Refuge manager Katie O’Donnell says the story is far from unique in Nelson. “The problem isn’t going away. But yes, if an offender is back on the street the next day we may not have had time to contact the woman and discuss her safety, and maybe the conditions around him aren’t stringent enough, absolutely it’s frustrating. Sometimes we only have a small window to help the family while they’re locked up.”

Since February 2015, the refuge worked with 224 women in the region. This does not count the numbers who call crisis line, asking for advice but do not sign up for the service, which is about as many again.

The father says if his daughter’s partner went to jail then she would have the space to rediscover her life and regain confidence without his influence.

“Because it’s not just the impact on her but also her children. Slowly but surely they’re going to see that violence is okay. Violence is just a way of life. I’m so frustrated by it and it’s kept me broken for years.”

He says when the police do arrest and charge him, the courts let him out time and time again. “He’s been charged with assault so many times, then he does this course and judge says ‘oh, he’s trying to rehabilitate himself’. He’s not, he’s done the course twice and is still punching people.

“So the judges are making the wrong choice for a sentence. Because within a month of him being sentenced to community service, after 40 odd previous convictions, lots of violence and repeated domestic violence he’s given him another non-custodial sentence and then within a month he has then again assaulted my daughter bad enough to be up in front of the courts yet again.”

Katie says it’s a horrible situation for many women but she says they’re here to help. “I would encourage any woman in that situation to contact us because sometimes you can achieve a lot more if you have an agency like ours that can walk alongside you. Because it’s a long journey, it doesn’t just happen overnight.”

If you require help from domestic abuse, you can call the Nelson Women’s and Children’s Refuge on 548 3353 or Nelson Police on 546 3840.