Breaking Silence

series two

logo of woman speaking

The many faces of domestic abuse in New Zealand

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“It was all consuming. There was not one part of my life that it didn’t impact. It impacted friendships, my job and my ability to focus on my son."

Tina (not her real name) was completely unprepared for the torment she would experience through being stalked by a former partner. The texts, emails and phone calls were relentless and eventually reduced her to a virtual prisoner in her own home.

 “You’d think ‘oh just put the phone in a drawer, walk away, go for a walk, do something else’  but you actually can’t. It renders you so full of anxiety waiting for that message to come.”

In this second series of Breaking Silence, Magnetic Pictures and Stuff join forces to tell the powerful stories of those affected by domestic violence and explore how the abuse cycle is being broken. In eight new episodes, we look closely at the many guises of coercion and control and reveal why it is frequently ignored and misunderstood.

The Covid-19 crisis in 2020 saw a rapid increase in domestic violence statistics in Aotearoa/New Zealand.  The brutality of attack and severity of injuries has also become significantly worse, say victim advocates.

One of the series contributors, Debbs Murray, a former team manager for domestic abuse charity Shine says the violence she’s now seeing is the worst she has witnessed in almost 18 years on the frontline. Currently Shine is getting at least double the referrals they would normally expect to receive up to 55 incidents of serious family violence weekly -  it is our collective record of shame.

In Breaking Silence series two we give voice to those who have the courage to share their stories and make the compelling case as to why we must act now to stop all abuse in our communities.

Simonne Butler
Simonne Butler, host of Breaking Silence.


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Breaking Silence
EPISODE ONE: Jude Simpson
Simonne Butler

On average NZ police attend a family violence incident every five and a half minutes. Jude works at the Royal New Zealand Police college. The training program she implements is designed to encourage understanding and empathy for those who will work on the front line of family harm. As part of her training she shares her own very traumatic life story.

Breaking Silence
Dark image of man looking at laptop screen

An estimated 15 percent of stalking cases worldwide result in homicide. Tina was stalked by her ex-husband for more than 3 years. Stalking and cyber stalking are currently not defined by the Crimes Act in New Zealand as an offence. Tina shares her story in support of law change.

Breaking Silence
EPISODE THREE: Wiremu Witana
Wiremu Witana in conversation

More than half a million people are directly affected by family violence in New Zealand each year. For many, violence is handed from generation to generation. Wiremu, with the love and support of his parents, has broken this cycle of abuse.

Breaking Silence
EPISODE FOUR: Sandra Dickson
Sandra Dickinson in conversation

People who are part of the Rainbow community are more than twice as likely to experience partner violence than their straight counterparts. Sandra shares her own story and the unique challenges faced by those in the rainbow community.

Breaking Silence
EPISODE FIVE: Debbs Murray
Debbs Murray looking in a mirror

On average, nine women are killed by their partner or ex-partner in New Zealand every year. Almost a victim herself, Debbs, shares her story to illustrate 'coercive control' a pattern of behavior that is designed to exploit, dominate, and imprison women within a relationship.  


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Breaking Silence
EPISODE SIX: Lualima Hansen
Lualima hansen in conversation

Research shows that victims of childhood abuse are twice as likely to enter an abusive relationship as adults. For Lima, who once rejected her Samoan roots in an effort to move on from horrific abuse suffered as a child, her faith gave her the strength to forgive, and share her powerful story.

Breaking Silence
A puppy

With many refuges being unable to accommodate animals, a surprising fifty three percent of abuse victims stay in violent relationships longer out of fear their animals will be harmed. Pets are a much loved part of the family but are all too often caught up in the cycle of violence.

Breaking Silence
EPISODE EIGHT: I Got Your Backpack
Tam in conversation

Last year there were 53,000 women referred to refuges. For many there is no time to pack and they have just the clothes on their backs. Tam was one of those who found herself fleeing from an abusive relationship but upon arrival at a refuge, something changed her life.


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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
Information about how partner and sexual violence affects Rainbow communities
0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE) for Rainbow support. 6-9pm every day
Free call or text 1737 any time


Directed and edited by
Paul Oremland
Juanita Edwards
Executive producer
Brian Holland
Filmed by
Sjaak te Brake
Production manager
Ella Wells
Heather McKay
Assistant editor
Toby Plowman
Online editor
Daniel Habedank
Sound mix
Ethan Tan
Layout and development
John Harford
Stuff commissioning editor
Carol Hirschfeld
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