Allan Titford's ex-wife Susan Cochrane has told of how her children's self-harming was the breaking point for her after more than two decades of sexual and physical abuse.
In an interview with Radio New Zealand she said that after 22 years of torment it was the fact her children started harming themselves that made her seek help from Women's Refuge.
Her children could not understand why she wouldn't leave Titford and used to encourage her to do so, she said.
"I finally said to them he'd told me he'd kill my mum and dad and then, if they died, he'd go to their funeral and he'd find us there and get us," Cochrane said.
Former Northland farmer Titford, who last month unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Far North District Council, was on Wednesday sentenced to 24 years' jail on 39 charges, three of them involving sexual violation.
As a victim of a sex crime Cochrane was entitled to automatic name suppression, but Titford would not then have been named.
Her impact statement to the court detailed the most horrifying of his crimes. She told the court Titford used her as a sex slave for 22 years.
The abuse included the period when Titford was fighting a high-profile land battle over his farm at Maunganui Bluff, near Dargaville.
She said she didn't tell anyone about her torment because Titford threatened to kill her parents if she did.
"It was always 'if you tell anyone I'll kill you or I'll kill your parents' and it took ages before I even told my own kids the reason why I wouldn't leave," Cochrane said.
Not long after she left Titford her mother died and the next day Titford drove through Hikurangi looking for them, she said.
Her children spotted him and were so terrified they jumped into a shop to hide from him.
The family went into hiding with the help of Women's Refuge until Titford was charged and bailed on the condition he stay south of Hamilton.
Cochrane said it was hard to believe she was now free after 22 years of being a prisoner in her own home.