Sword attack victim fights back with book

NEIL REID
Last updated 12:57 03/08/2014
Simonne Butler, pictured a month following surgery to repair her hands after Antoine Dixon's samurai sword attack.
Fairfax NZ

VICTIM: Simonne Butler, pictured a month after surgery to repair her hands, which were injured in Antoine Dixon's samurai sword attack.

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One of the victims of crazed killer Antoine Dixon's samurai sword attack is writing a book on her ordeal.

On January 21, 2003, in a vile crime-spree which shocked the nation, a drug-fuelled Dixon attacked his ex-partner Simonne Butler and her friend Renee Gunbie at Pipiroa property, north of Thames.

Both of Butler's arms were severed in the shocking attack, with surgeons successfully reattaching them. Gunbie lost her left hand in the attack.

Dixon then stole a vehicle and drove to Auckland, where he fatally shot James Te Aute at Highland Park, in East Auckland.

More than 11 years on Butler is penning a book – titled Recalibrate – covering her ordeal, her brave recovery and her hopes for the future.

On a website promoting the publication, and a fundraising drive to get the book into print, Butler wrote: ''It's my life. The good, the bad, the shocking. It's raw and graphic, funny and heart wrenching and true.

''So yes it is my little book of healing, but it is also about sex and drugs and violence and manipulation and control.''

In 2005, Dixon was convicted of murder, wounding, kidnapping and using a firearm against a police officer, and a sentence of life imprisonment with a 20-year minimum non-parole period.

The Court of Appeal later overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial.

In July, 2008, he was again found guilty. On February 4, 2009, he was found dead in his prison cell from self-inflicted injuries on the eve of his sentencing.

Recalibrate is based on Butler's diaries from over the past 15 years.

She hopes the book will spare other Kiwi women from some of the suffering she has endured.

''If one woman decides to get out of an abusive relationship after reading my book, I've done my job,'' she wrote.

On her website Butler recalls that at the age of 16 she was ''clubbing, drinking and dancing every other weekend''. She ''experimented with sex and alcohol as a way of dulling the pain and emptiness I felt deep inside''.

She was later helped after being introduced to a naturopath and osteopath.

But ''in my early 20s I ignored all the warning signs and began a relationship with a violent, unbalanced, pathologically unfaithful, dishonest and controlling man''.

''I believed my love and compassion could/would change him,'' she wrote. ''Little did I know.''

Butler revealed physically healing from Dixon's attack had taken: ''S***loads of operations and hospital stays, side effects from medication, daily physio, scars for Africa and PAIN PAIN PAIN!''

But compared to healing her spirit, physically it ''was a walk in the park''.

She moved away from psychological counselling ''very early'', instead turning to shamanic healing; a process involving a healer who acts as intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds.

Butler is now a trained naturopath and an apprentice to a master shaman healer.

A function will be held at a suburban Auckland bar on August 12 to launch Butler's fundraising campaign for Recalibrate.

An article on Butler's website states: ''She's working hard on the project, which will require around $70,000 in order to become a published reality. To make it happen she's raising funds via PledgeMe.

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''Simonne knows many New Zealanders will remember her as the woman who had her hands hacked off with a samurai sword. After her book is published, she hopes she'll be famous for a much more positive reason.''

The online fundraising campaign will last 30 days.

Butler wrote: ''There are going to be heaps of cool rewards as well when you pledge including; dinner with the author – that's me! Yay. we'll have so much fun; personalised flower essence remedies made by me sent to you; Skype and in-person holistic healing sessions; beach and forest horse rides with the author (me again!) on trained film and television horses and much much more.''

- Stuff

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