Breaking Silence | Web Series | 3 Seasons

Following the strong traction of Pasefika Proud’s Say Something video, in which ELIM Porirua Church participated in to raise awareness of family violence, Ace, Landa and their son, Lavakhi, who played the family in the short film, participated in season 1 of the Breaking Silence Web series. We also shared Laulima Hansen’s story from season 2 episode 6. There is now a third season in the Breaking Silence series.  

The Breaking Silence series hears powerful stories from those affected by domestic violence and explores how the abuse cycle is being broken.  Season 3 examines failings of the Family Court system and how the Hague Convention can fail women and their children in the context of violence. 

Links to all episodes from series 1 through to 3 can be accessed below.  

Breaking Silence Season 3 – available through Tagata Pasifika You Tube 

Breaking Silence Season 3 Episode 1: The Family Court  
This episode investigates the systemic failings of the Family Court for New Zealanders in the context of women and children fleeing a violent partner. Lives are at stake and the consequences can be tragic. 

Breaking Silence Season 3 Episode 2: Trinity 
Breaking Silence speaks for Trinity in this new series episode. Trinity was just 16 when her life was violently taken at the Manurewa train station by an online date. Her mother Margaret shares Trinity’s story in the hopes of helping others. She tells of the events that led up to the tragic loss of her daughter’s life. Trinity’s story is a grave reminder of the potential dangers of online dating and the predators that roam these sites to prey on the vulnerable.
Breaking Silence Season 3 Episode 3: Debbs Murray 
Debbs Murray has trained over 3,000 frontline workers. She is a family violence practitioner with her own powerful story of lived experience. Debbs describes why an individual doesn’t ‘just leave’ something society grapples with and she expertly demonstrates.

Breaking Silence Season 3 Episode 4: The Hague Convention 
The Hague Convention can fail women and their children in the context of violence. We share the stories of Sammie and Lydia and their forming of the New Zealand Hague Collective to help women navigate this terrifying international law.

Breaking Silence Season 3 Episode 5: Simonne Butler Part One 
Simonne Butler shares critical insights into the relationship that changed her life forever. A relationship that converged on one fateful night where she nearly lost her life at the hands of another.

Breaking Silence Season 3 Episode 6: Detective Jaimie Leigh 
NZ Police Detective Jaimie-Leigh shares her story of trauma to inspire that one’s past need not define their future, and dreams can come true.

Breaking Silence Season 3 Episode 7: Paralympian Fiona Southorn 
Paralympic medalist Fiona Southorn shares her powerful story, an inspiration for young ones living with physical challenges and for all individuals living with violence and abuse.

Breaking Silence Season 3 Episode 8: Simonne Butler Part Two 
In this continuation of her story, Simonne Butler nearly lost her life in a vicious attack by an ex-partner, she shares her incredible journey of recovery and resilience.

Breaking Silence Season 2 – available through RNZ Podcast

Series 2 takes a close look at the many guises of control and reveals why it is frequently ignored and misunderstood. 

In this compelling new eight-part sequel, investigations into stalking reveal shocking statistics and the link between stalking and homicide. Yet in New Zealand, stalking is still currently not a crime. 

A light is shone on deep-set intergenerational abuse and an investigation into pet abuse illustrates a surprisingly high link between family harm, pet abuse and homicide. 

Since Covid-19 crisis, in 2020 there was a rapid increase in domestic violence statistics in Aotearoa. 

Victim advocates also report brutality of attacks and severity of injuries has also become significantly worse, say victim advocates. 

Breaking Silence Season 2 Episode 1 : Jude Simpson 
On average, New Zealand police attend a family violence incident every five and a half minutes. Jude works at the Royal New Zealand Police College. The training programme she implements is designed to encourage understanding and empathy for those who will work on the front line of family harm. As part of Jude's training, she shares her own traumatic life story.  

Breaking Silence Season 2 Episode 2 : Stalking 
An estimated 15% of worldwide stalking cases result in homicide, yet stalking and cyberstalking aren't currently defined as an offence in the New Zealand Crimes Act. 'Tina' (not her real name) was stalked by her ex-husband for more than three years. She shares her story in support of law change. 

Breaking Silence Season 2 Episode 3 : Wiremu Witana 
More than half a million New Zealanders are directly affected by family violence every year. For many, violence is handed down from generation to generation. Wiremu, with the love and support of his parents, broke this cycle of abuse.

Breaking Silence Season 2 Episode 4 : Sandra Dickson 
Those who are part of Rainbow communities are more than twice as likely to experience intimate partner violence (IPV) than their straight counterparts. Sandra shares her own story, and explores the unique challenges faced by Rainbow communities.

Breaking Silence Season 2 Episode 5 : Debbs Murray 
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 help illustrate 'coercive control,' a pattern of behaviour designed to exploit, dominate, and imprison women within a relationship.

Breaking Silence Season 2 Episode 6 : Lualima Hansen
Read Our Story HERE
Research shows victims of childhood abuse are twice as likely as others to enter an abusive relationship when they're adults. Lima, who once rejected her Samoan roots in an effort to move on from the horrific abuse she suffered as a child, said her faith gave her the strength to forgive, and to share her powerful story.

Breaking Silence Season 2 Episode 7 : Pet Abuse 
With many refuges unable to accommodate animals, a surprising 53% of abuse victims stay in violent relationships out of fear of their animals being harmed. Pets are a much-loved part of the family, but all too often are caught up in the cycle of violence.

Breaking Silence Season 2 Episode 8 : I Got Your Backpack 
Last year, 53,000 women were referred to refuges in New Zealand. For many, there was no time to pack; they just had 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. 

Breaking Silence Season 1 – available through RNZ Podcast 
Series 1 investigates what New Zealanders need to know if we are to curb our shocking domestic abuse statistics.  

Domestic abuse extends beyond social, financial, education and ethical bounds.  

David White’s son-in-law Greg Meads was a multimillionaire horse breeder who shot and killed his wife - and David’s daughter - Helen. 

In the Financial Abuse episode, legal professional Sarah says because she was never actually hit by her partner, she wasn’t aware she was in an abusive relationship. Eventually, his controlling abuse rendered Sarah and her children penniless and homeless.  

In the episode Say Something, the abusive relationship between Samoan father Ace and his family led his oldest son to attempt suicide.  The entire family shares their story in the hope it will help others. 

Breaking Silence Season 1 Episode 1 : Simonne Butler 
In 2003, Simonne Butler survived a horrific attack at the hands of her abusive partner. The attack shocked New Zealand, and the story made national headlines. But much of the coverage focused on the perpetrator and not Simonne, the victim. Now, after years of physical, emotional, and spiritual recovery, Simonne embarks on a journey to find hope and inspiration in stories that domestic abuse survivors share with her. In this introductory episode, Simonne shares her story and insights into how to survive domestic abuse, what she has learnt, and what people need to know about how to curb our shocking domestic abuse statistics.

Breaking Silence Season 1 Episode 2 : David White 
In 2009, David White's daughter Helen was shot dead by her husband Greg Meads. The murder became national news, largely, David believes, because Greg was a wealthy man. Since then, David has become a staunch campaigner against domestic abuse. He travels New Zealand to spread his message of forgiveness and understanding. 

Simonne follows David to one of his public presentations -- in this case, at Henderson Police HQ, in one of the country's worst-affected areas for domestic abuse. At the presentation, David expresses his view that domestic harm is not a poor, brown problem, but one that directly or indirectly affects the entire country. He says the police deal with only 20% of family harm -- or what's actually reported -- while people like him try to deal with the remaining 80%. 

The solutions, he says, are to revive communities and break down the cycle of harm. To do this, he offers help to anyone who needs it, and speaks in prisons and schools. He is a proponent of more holistic initiatives, such as the New Zealand Police's safety assessment meetings, which bring multiple agencies together to resolve problems in damaged families rather than jailing perpetrators. 

Simonne follows David to a public march where he addresses a White Ribbon event.  

Breaking Silence Season 1 Episode 3 : Diamonds in the Ring 
Can the sport of boxing help domestic abuse survivors regain their self-respect? Daniella Smith, a former world champion boxer, believes so. She runs Diamonds in the Ring, a boxing gym for women. Many of the women who train there are former clients of women's refuges. 

Shonie is one of them. She survived horrific abuse at the hands of her former partner, who was jailed. We followed her as she trained to fight in one of Diamonds in the Ring's charity boxing matches -- her second time doing so. 

Her training schedule didn't go as planned, and Daniella worried Shonie wasn't prepared to box on fight night. Yet, on the night, after a tentative start, she pulled through. All in all, Diamonds in the Ring raised over $30,000 for women's refuges that night. 

Their charity didn't stop there. The episode ended with Simonne following Daniella from the boxing to Manukau Women's Refuge, with carloads of Christmas presents. Simmone looked on as Daniella and her team brought some much-needed Christmas cheer to the refuge.

Breaking Silence Season 1 Episode 4 : Jeremy Eparaima 
Can abusive men change their behaviour? Simonne visits Jeremy Eparaima to find out. Jeremy was a serial abuser until his mid-40s, when he joined an anger management course and realised he needed help. After going through the 20-week course twice, he not only changed his behaviour but decided to start publicly speaking out on what he did and how to avoid becoming like his former self. He works with the It's Not OK programme, and speaks to groups -- including the police -- about his life in a bid to educate them from a perpetrator's perspective. 

Simonne visits Jeremy at his family homestead outside Foxton. In their interview, Jeremy explains how sexual, physical, and emotional abuse at home and at school led him to become an abuser. Despite abusing multiple partners, he was never arrested, never mind prosecuted. He attributes this to a toxic culture which excuses abuse, especially by those who -- like him -- have a public profile or play sport. 

His abuse was so well-hidden that his current partner, who has known him since childhood, didn't know about his past. After a rocky start, they have been together happily for eight years. 

The episode ends with Simonne following Jeremy to one of his public talks.

Breaking Silence Season 1 Episode 5 : Shakti 
Farida Sultana immigrated to New Zealand from Bangladesh in the early '90s. Several years earlier, she experienced domestic abuse while living in the U.K. She left this relationship and received help from Shakti, a women's aid service for immigrant and refugee women. After arriving in New Zealand, and realising immigrant women from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa were not getting the support they needed, she founded Shakti New Zealand in 1995. 

They can only do so much, however. 25 years later, domestic violence is still a big problem in immigrant communities. After two Chinese women were killed in the past year, Shakti plans a campaign to target the Chinese community, which has traditionally underreported domestic abuse. 

We follow Farida and her colleagues to the site where one of the women was killed. She was one of Shakti's clients, and they are still grieving. Despite being divorced for many years, and having a protection order against her ex-husband, she was not safe, stabbed multiple times one Monday morning while waiting for a bus. 

Simonne interviews Farida on the issues migrant women face. Farida explains that on top of the same issues New Zealand women are burdened with, there are issues such as forced marriage, the impact of shaming and silence, the pressures to stay in unhealthy marriages, and the extreme isolation many migrant women suffer due to not being able to speak English and gain access to organisational help. 

Simonne also discovers how Farida and other abuse survivors are building new communities after the ones they used to belong to no longer protected them.

Breaking Silence Season 1 Episode 6 : Financial Abuse 
Sarah (not her real name) used to be a high-functioning, well-paid professional. When she thought of domestic abuse, she pictured scenes from the movie Once Were Warriors. 

What she didn't realise is that she was slowly becoming subject to extreme financial and psychological abuse by her partner. After taking a break from her career to have children, her partner began withholding access to money. Over the course of several years, things went from bad to worse. Eventually, after briefly becoming homeless, Sarah fled to a women's refuge with her children. Three years later, she's in housing, living on a benefit and rebuilding her life. 

Simonne talks to Sarah to unravel the complexities of financial abuse, and, in doing so, finds similarities to her own past.

Breaking Silence Season 1 Episode 7 : Woven Earth 
After Kerryn escaped an abusive marriage in Australia, she discovered firsthand how hard it is for women and their children to restart their lives after leaving the sanctuary of a women's refuge. 

After moving to New Zealand with her children, she founded the Women Earth charity. Much as in Australia, women's refuges don't have the money nor the staff to help families after they leave. Often, such families move into their new home with little more than the clothes on their backs, with little or no resources to buy needed household goods. 

That's where Kerryn and her team come in. They collect and store donated household goods until they're needed, then transport them to the new house and set them up for the family on their move-in day. 

Simonne follows Kerryn’s day setting up her first house.

Breaking Silence Season 1 Episode 8 : Say Something 
Domestic abuse affects many Pacific families in New Zealand, but finding people to speak to about it was tougher than Simonne expected. Such abuse is shrouded in secrecy and shame, and is rarely publicly spoken about. After Simonne discovered a video called "Say Something," which dramatised domestic abuse in a Pacific family, she went to meet the actors. 

Samoan New Zealanders Landa, her husband Ace, and their 19-year-old son Lavahki participated in the "Say Something" video. It was produced by Pasefika Proud, a Ministry of Social Development initiative to curb domestic abuse in Pacific communities. Once released on social media last year, the video touched a nerve, being viewed over 220,000 times without any promotion, and inundating Ace and Lavahki with messages. Many of these messages thanked them for creating space for Pacifica to speak about their own abuse experience. 

It turns out domestic abuse occurred in the actors' family, and making the video re-triggered some of the issues they thought they'd put to rest. Ace was forced to confront his verbally aggressive behaviour towards his wife and the physical abuse he dealt his son. 

This was partly why Lavahki tried to commit suicide a few years ago. After dealing with these issues, the family say they've become more resilient, emotionally stronger. The change, Ace says, was not only due to the video but to his embracing his faith and becoming more involved in his church.


Pasefika Proud and many others in our community take family violence and sexual violence very seriously. All forms of violence are crime. 

You have the right to be safe. If you are a victim of violence or abuse, or there is someone that makes you fearful, threatens or harasses you, seek help as soon as possible.   

If you’re feeling angry or worried you might hurt someone, call, or message one of the helplines below. Help is available.   

You are not alone. Talk to someone you trust. The national helplines listed below have people ready to listen and help, whether you’re experiencing violence or abuse, worried you might hurt someone, or are concerned about others.   

If you’re in danger, call the Police on 111.  

If you can’t call for help, get out of the house and ask a neighbour or someone else to call 111.  

If you are concerned that you or someone else will be harmed, phone the Police on 111. When it’s not safe to talk, press 55 if you require emergency assistance.  

Call the helplines to find out how to help someone else if they are telling you they are being harmed or if you’re concerned. We have a collective responsibility to look out for and help victims, their families and whānau, and to ensure people stop using violence.

CLICK HERE for Auckland Family Violence Service Providers  

CLICK HERE for Family Violence Service Providers Outside Auckland  

CLICK HERE for Ministry of Social Development Family Services Directory 
To download a PDF file of the following links / resources  PLEASE CLICK HERE