It’s never too late to make changes - 13 January 2015

Jeremy EparaimaTena koutou katoa. My name is Patumoana Jeremy Eparaima, known by some as Patu or others as Jeremy. I am 49 years old and have been working for the campaign now since 2011, travelling around the motu spreading the message that domestic violence is not OK.

As a child I was subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse at my homes and boarding school. Like many other men, this became the basis of how I perceived life and relationships, without any understanding that it was completely wrong and the amount of damage I would go on to inflict on my partners and children.

I grew up an angry, aggressive young man who used my fists and my mouth to keep myself safe and later to maintain control of my partners and children. Basically I ruled with fear without any idea this was not normal.

 As a partner and then father I started off mainly a verbal abuser who would nut off and yell and scream whenever there was anything not going my way. By the time I was in my early 20s I was a full-blown physical and emotional abuser to my then partner and children. At the age of 19 I also offended sexually which made me even worse because of the self-hatred and shame I carried, but took out on everyone else.

At the age of 40 a friend of mine whom I considered violent started to change and he introduced me to an anger management group and the lady who was the facilitator named Ngaire. This wonderful lady opened my eyes to what I had been doing all my life and through the course sent me on a journey of change and gave me some new skills to deal with life without using violence and abuse.

I never thought all that happened to me and all I dealt out since would ever amount to anything good, but being given the opportunity to spread my story of change in order to change another man’s and his family’s future has been the most rewarding thing in my life. If I’m speaking to 10 people or 1000 people and one person gets the message then it’s worth me doing this.

My message is simple. If you are a young man heading down this dark road then ask for help before you go on to damage yourself and the ones you love. If you are older like I was, then it is never too late to make a change in your life to make a safe environment for your children and grandchildren and become the positive role model our families deserve.  

Kia ora koutou.

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