Lucy's Story
Violence was part and parcel of that life

He refused to give me any money. Before we got married I had been paid by ACC to be his caregiver, but once I became his wife I didn’t get any money and he wouldn’t give me any.

He was working me and the children into the ground and then yelling and screaming when there wasn’t the food he wanted. But he could spend $50 on lollies for his friends’ kids when they came round in the weekend.

We were the richest people in our group, but of all the women I was the poorest. I was the best treated by the other men, but if they saw my husband giving me a backhander or a punch no one would lift a hand. Nobody in that world will help a woman. That’s just how it is.

Even if they don’t like it, they’ll say she must have asked for it. The women cop a lot of violence. You’d never complain. You just stay in line and do what you’re told. You might go to one of the gang members’ women but they all hate each other anyway because you never know who your husband is sleeping with. In the underworld drugs, violence and abuse all go hand in hand. It’s a hateful world.

Eventually I left the relationship. But when you get into a gang you can’t wake up one morning and say “I’m going now”. I knew too much. The other men didn’t talk in front of their women, but because my husband needed to be driven everywhere he took me places. I was a danger to the other men because of what I knew. But I wouldn’t squeal. I’m not that stupid.

When I told my husband I wasn’t coming back, he said “you’d better leave town very quickly or people are going to start getting hurt” – implying that he would hurt my kids.

When I left I was literally dying and I wanted to die in peace. I was only about 52 kilograms and I was still losing weight and getting sicker. I couldn’t walk without a stick because of my back, and I was zonked out on pills for the pain. I felt totally broken physically – and broken-hearted.

By then Clive was a very strong, very angry young man. The police told me they knew when he’d be 16 and then he’d be going away. So I borrowed money from my mother and sent him down to the South Island to my brother. Again, I thought I was doing the right thing. I didn’t know that my brother was into the hard drugs.

When I moved to this city, my eldest son was at university. My second son had just come out of the army and he moved here too, to do a teaching degree. He arrived with a Bible because he had become a Christian, and then I did too.

My third son was in jail for manufacturing and smuggling drugs, and my younger brother was back in jail too. I inherited his two daughters. I’d always wanted a daughter but I used to think not giving me one was God’s way of making sure I never did to a little girl what my mother had done to me. Then I got these two little girls for two years – and I realised I could have had a girl and loved her.

My mother had diabetes and went into hospital for about six months, having her toe amputated and then amputations up her leg. I believed that to be a good Christian I had to forgive her. I basically hated her, but I used to go up every day and sit beside her in the hospital. When she was on the morphine pump she’d go back into my childhood and say things like, “I’m sorry – you didn’t deserve the things that happened to you”. She knew – and she apologised. So I did forgive her.

She died and 11 days later my eldest son was killed, and I completely fell apart. He had gone to Wellington to work as a parliamentary press secretary. He was going on holiday, and he was killed in a plane crash.

My ex-husband wanted to bring his gang entourage to the funeral. I said, “My son was such a good boy. He did well in the world in spite of me being his mother. You are not going to make his funeral about you.” So I took out a protection order to make sure he couldn’t come.

That’s when I got a letter from HAIP to come and do these women’s classes, because it’s part of the process when you apply for a protection order. I didn’t think I needed to do any courses because I’d already left the abusive relationship and I’d become a Christian and I was slowly healing.

HAIP saved my life. I thought I was the world’s loser. I’d been married three times, and I felt like a three-time failure. I felt my whole life was a failure, apart from being a mother. I’m very proud of my kids, even the one who’s a gangster, because I realise he’s like that because of me.

Before I went to HAIP I thought I had the words “come and abuse me” written on my forehead, and that that’s how abusive people recognised me and came and got me. But I know now that for people who have been abused, like draws like – you don’t know any different and you feel comfortable with what you know. I didn’t know I was being abused or that I was abusive. I didn’t know I had a problem or that anyone could do anything about it.