Tremain's story - 22 December 2009

Photo courtesy of The Nelson Mail

Photo courtesy of The Nelson Mail

"My father's violence knew no bounds. He'd do whatever it took to hurt us children, punch us with fists, smash us with bottles, kick us, whack us with sticks or belts. He beat the living daylights out of us — not for anything.

"Every payday he'd get drunk and bring home all his friends — a lot of strange men, just like in Once Were Warriors. "By the time I was a teenager I had so much anger built up in me — I couldn't just have a wash and wash it off. I did everything that was wrong, just to stand out." He met his partner when he was 17 and she was 15, she was 16 when their first son was born.

"I wasn't violent in my marriage before our son was born. It soon changed. The only comparison I had was my father going off his rocker, so I'd go off my rocker and then I knew from him you just go hard and fast and smash everything in your way.

"It was sheer rage. I'd blow up over anything, it didn't need much."

The change from a violent life came for Tremain through his reconnection with his Māori culture and a wonderful mentor. "They say violence begets violence. I could see the circle right in front of my face and I could see that I had the opportunity of changing it.

"What was I going to do — walk away and let what I had been through happen to other children? Or was I going to be what I call ‘man-up enough' so that I could show the kids ‘I was like you and there's a way out'?"

He learned Māori and started doing social work, facilitating men's stopping violence programmes and working with Women's Refuge. Tremain is now one of the It's not OK Campaign violence free champions. "I'm just so sad that I couldn't have lived this life I live now when I was younger. It takes so much self-healing to know it wasn't your fault, to know that you are all right and that there are things you can offer to others, that there is hope out there even though you think there isn't.

"I keep my family close to me all the time because they are my monitors. They're not scared of me any more. That's the legacy I've left for my grandchildren."

You can read the full story about Tremain's journey to become violence free on line at

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