A Christmas free of family violence

16:00, Dec 24 2010

As family violence reports across Wellington almost double, one former victim will spend Christmas without being dragged by her hair or having knives flying at her.

In May this year, just 15 days after being freed from an 18-month prison sentence for beating his partner, Terrence Christman, 26, began to beat her again.

The alcoholic repeatedly punched and kicked her at their Kilbirnie home, waved a knife in her face, dragged her by her hair into the street and accused her of being unfaithful to him.

The officer in charge of the Wellington family violence team, Detective Sergeant Mark Scott, said yesterday the woman was "very, very lucky" to be alive.

"I'm sure there was probably other violence which wasn't reported and the message here is to get help. Get help from police, get help from someone you trust, and recognise the signs of a violent relationship."

Christman was jailed earlier this month for four years and nine months, with two-thirds of that a minimum non-parole period. It is the fifth time he has been jailed for violence against the woman.

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During one incident he threw a BMX bike at her, hitting her in the face and chest. In another he threw a knife, which stuck in the wall.

When she ran, fearing for her life, he dragged her back and waved the knife in front of her face, threatening he would kill her and her son if she left him again.

In the middle of one public argument with her, Christman turned and attacked a drunk passerby, knocking him to the ground before lining his head up with the kerb and stomping on it.

A loud cracking sound resulted, court documents state, with the man suffering concussion. He also suffered deep bruising, cuts and grazes to his face.

Christman's lawyer, John Miller, said Christman was remorseful and realised he needed to do rehabilitative programmes if he wanted to earn parole. He said the victim had not been forced to stay with Christman and had chosen to pursue him when he came out of prison.

Christman pleaded guilty to 22 charges including injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, threatening to kill, assault with an instrument, breach of protection orders and kidnapping.

WHAT'S NOT OK IS ON THE WALL

Wellington police have a poster campaign encouraging family violence victims to seek help, at a time of year when reported family violence in the city nearly doubles. .

The posters, in women's toilets across Wellington bars and pubs, and on trains, list signs of domestic abuse along with numbers to call for help.

Wellington district community policing manager Inspector Karen Smith says: "So many people know family violence is not OK, but lots of people are unsure about what's not OK, and that is things like being scared, being stalked, being controlled or threatened, strangled, choked or fearing for your life."

The Dominion Post