Abuse survivor's life story laid bare

Katrina Crews.
Katrina Crews.

As a scared little girl Katrina Crews was failed by every adult in her life, but she is lucky.

Katrina survived.

She survived her head being used as a battering ram, having her body beaten and tortured, she survived being told she was worthless and the accompanying sexual abuse.

She survived to tell her story, raise four children and start placing the building blocks for New Zealand's "4thekidz" charity.

"I could've been one of these kids, my name could've been on a list somewhere out there. I faced my mortality as a child more times than I can remember," she said.

"The constant beatings until I couldn't hear properly, followed by the beatings for not listening.

"I was one of the lucky ones, surviving years of brutality, being so afraid that I would be cowered in a corner trembling at raised voices."

At the first opportunity, Crews moved to Australia - an escape from the pain that has haunted her here - and returned last week for the first time in 12 years.

Speaking at the Eltham Community Centre for the third annual meeting of children's charity "4thekidz", Crews exposed her heartache to a room full of like-minded individuals.

The trust's deputy chairwoman, Crews is actively involved in helping change the lives of abused children in Taranaki because she refuses to become one of those adults - the ones who kept on failing her. She calls the adults that knew about her suffering cowards.

Eventually finding herself in foster care for a three-month respite, she learned to love. "It was their act of kindness that taught me that one, ordinary person can change somebody's whole life around," she said.

When her first child was born, Crews was terrified of becoming that monster, one of the people that hurt children or looked the other way.

So she made him a promise and built a new, safe life in Australia.

But Crews, who was raised in the Taranaki/Whanganui area, founded the New Zealand-based charity three years ago.

Working with Stratford's Carolyn Cragg and Tauranga's Suzy Brown, the women started the "Tedz4Kidz" project, gifting teddy bears, blankets, torches and journals to children who have undergone forensic testing.

"4thekidz" has five goals, to place teddy bears in police cars nationwide for the above project, to deliver educational material and mentoring programmes to pregnant teens and vulnerable families, to provide an online service connecting families to the support they need, to provide mobile support for those that can not access traditional supports, and to be involved with developing and providing educational programmes and materials for kindergartens, schools and service providers.

Although Crews planned to return to Australia, she told the gathering that she "will not stop until these goals are achieved".

Cragg was re-elected as chairwoman.

Katrina Crews was elected as the deputy chairwoman, and Angela Adams took up the role of treasurer.