Lucy's Story
I cried for about three months thats when i started smoking cannabis

He wasn’t a bad person, but he was a compulsive liar. He’d been horrifically abused as a child. His stepmother used to give him hidings, and he learnt to say whatever he thought she wanted to hear just for self-preservation.

We spent a lot of money going to counselling. The counsellor finally said to me, “He’s not going to change; it’s part of his makeup. Either you learn to live with it or you separate.” It was turning me into a screaming shrew, and I couldn’t stand it. So we broke up. I cried for about three months. That’s when I started smoking cannabis. People had done it all around me for years, and I never had, but it was my way of escape while I was getting out of my second unhappy marriage.

I’d wait till the kids went to bed and have a smoke. But then I’d want one by seven o’clock. So I’d tell them “Mummy smokes that stuff Uncle smokes. I’m not putting you to bed early because I don’t want to see you but because I want to smoke this.” I lived a double life – doing all the Mummy things, and the kids still highly achieving, but having a smoke at night. These are the mistakes I’ve made that I’ve cried over so many times.

I wanted a fresh place to start over, so we moved. I’d tried to get Clive out of school but was told I had given them custody and if I took him out no school would take him and I’d be prosecuted. So I basically kidnapped him. I picked him up for the weekend, and I took him to our new home. His new teacher understood him, but there was trouble again when he went to intermediate school. No other school would have him, so he finished his schooling at 11.

Then I met a guy who was the leader of a white supremacist motorbike gang. So now I’m smoking cannabis and I’m going out with a gangster. And then I married him!

Violence was part and parcel of that life. My husband was like the king and he used to hold court in a pub. One night they had a fight and a guy got stabbed and the blood was just spurting out. I swear I could hear it. They were taking bets on how long it would take him to die. He wasn’t one of their gang so he was just a nothing.

My husband had told me he never hit women. But one day in the pub a Maori girl knocked his jug. He told her to replace it, and she said no and swore at him. Everyone sitting round us picked up their glasses and moved their table because they knew what was going to happen. He got up and punched her, decked her, kicked her. They dragged her out by her feet with blood running out of her mouth, and dropped her in the gutter. I rang an ambulance. I said to my husband “you told me you don’t hit women”, and he said “I hit mutts”.

Slowly I became a “mutt” too. At first I didn’t answer back. If he said “jump” I’d say “how high?” But I started answering back, and he started beating the shit out of me. I had called myself his servant, but then I became his slave.

The first time he hit me was when my youngest son, who was about five, had left his gumboots in front of the house. My husband came in and picked him up and kicked him across the room. I went to defend him and said “don’t kick my child like that”. I just got pummelled to the ground.

He was a giant. He couldn’t use one arm as a result of polio, but he could swing it and knock you cold. He knocked me unconscious several times with really hard blows to my head, and he cut my head open a couple of times. Even today my head hurts as a result. At the hairdressers I don’t let them massage my head because it’s too painful.

Once he started hitting me, I really started answering back. I’d wait till he was sitting or lying down and I’d tell him exactly what I thought. I knew it would take him a while to get up because of his arm, so I’d split quick and go and sleep somewhere else. We lived in a huge place. By the next day he’d be over it, but our relationship had deteriorated so much that he’d just hit me anyway.

I became a house slave and my children became farm slaves. My oldest child had been recognised as a genius, but he was expelled because he’d got bored at school and stopped going. He worked for my husband for a couple of years loading drums and doing heavy work. My boys had played sport and two represented New Zealand. But my husband didn’t like that. Boys were just for working and he worked the guts out of them and kicked them out of home at 15 or 16.

He systematically broke my family. Once the police phoned in the middle of the night and said “we’ve got your boy in the cells” – and at that point it could have been any of my boys. Mind you, I was lost in drugs at that time – cannabis mostly, and speed when we partied. I was always stoned. That was my way of escape.

I’ve got degenerative arthritis in the bottom of my spine – probably from having too many children too quickly. I went to see specialists and was told I had the back of an 80-year-old woman, that several vertebrae had disintegrated, and that I could have an operation that would stop the pain, but I wouldn’t be able to walk. If I didn’t have it, I would still probably be in a wheelchair in a couple of years. But my husband still made me load drums three high on to trucks.