Breaking Silence

Stories of hope and survival beyond domestic abuse

“If someone has said they are going to kill you, believe them, they will. It might not happen today, it might not even be this year … but it’s on its way.”

— Simonne Butler

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Everyone has the right to safety yet this is not the reality for 1 in 3 women in New Zealand. At some point in their life, they will experience physical or psychological abuse from an intimate partner.

For Simonne Butler, a violent attack by the man she lived with left her in hospital critically injured. Her journey to recovery is ongoing, as is her commitment to stop domestic abuse in Aotearoa.  

Breaking Silence is a video series that shares Simonne’s story and follows her as she meets people around the country who are working with determination to raise awareness about the abuse cycle and how it can be changed. She discovers a range of responses from those making a difference: from practical support in setting up a new household to working with men on how to be emotionally open. We hear the personal stories from fathers and husbands who once thought their lives were untouched by domestic violence, who now actively campaign to spread knowledge about how family harm is often hidden from plain sight.

Breaking Silence captures many voices speaking a single truth - abuse thrives in secrecy, ending abusive behaviour requires self-knowledge and the courage to speak out.

Breaking Silence
EPISODE ONE: Simonne Butler

In 2003 Simonne Butler survived an horrific attack at the hands of her abusive partner. In this episode Simonne shares her story and insights on how to identify and survive domestic abuse. 

Breaking Silence
EPISODE TWO: David White

In 2009, David White's daughter Helen was shot dead by her multi-millionaire husband Greg Meads. White has since become a staunch campaigner fighting to end domestic abuse. He regularly holds meetings and speaks publicly about the issue.
Read more about David White.

Breaking Silence
EPISODE THREE: Diamonds in the Ring

Domestic abuse survivors training how to box may sound an unusual pairing.  But Daniella Smith, a former world champion boxer herself, believes learning the sport can help women regain self-respect.  She runs Diamonds in the Ring, a boxing gym for women. Many of the women including Shonie who we meet are former clients of women's refuges. 

Breaking Silence
EPISODE FOUR: Jeremy Eparaima

Can abusive men change their behaviour? Simonne meets Jeremy Eparaima, a reformed abuser to find out. Eparaima was a serial abuser until his mid 40s. Now he campaigns against domestic abuse. 

Breaking Silence

Shakti Women’s Refuge is a service for migrant and refugee women. Simonne interviews Farida from Shakti  to understand the specific difficulties that women from these communities may face - such as forced marriage, the impact of shaming and silence and extreme isolation.

Breaking Silence
EPISODE SIX: Financial Abuse

Sarah was once a well-paid corporate professional. When she thought of domestic abuse she pictured scenes from the movie Once Were Warriors. But what she didn't realise is that she was slowly becoming subject to extreme financial and psychological abuse by her partner.

Breaking Silence

After Kerryn escaped an abusive marriage while living in Australia, she discovered first-hand how hard it is for women and their children to restart their lives. Simonne follows Kerryn's journey as she sets up an entire house for a family on behalf of her newly formed charity. 

Breaking Silence
EPISODE EIGHT: Say Something

Domestic abuse affects many families in Pacific communities in New Zealand. But it is also shrouded in secrecy and people rarely speak about it. So when Simonne discovered a video called Say Something which dramatised domestic violence in a Pacific family, she went to meet the actors.


If you or someone else is in immediate danger call 111.

Other places to seek help:

For women and children. 0800 733 843
Free call 0508 744 633 domestic abuse helpline for women and men, daily 9am-11pm.
24 hour Crisis Line 0800 742 284 : 0800SHAKTI
0508 326 459
0800 456 450
0800 376 633 or text free 234


Filmed and directed by
Naashon Zalk
Juanita Edwards
Production manager
Ella Wells
Lisa Metivier
Assistant editor
Toby Plowman
Online editor
Daniel Habedank
Sound mix
Ethan Tan
Elijah Pennington
Executive producer
Brian Holland
John Harford
John Hartevelt
Carol Hirschfeld
Title image
Lawrence Smith

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