Fighting back against domestic violence

  • 06/11/2016

By Rewa Harriman

Daniella Smith was NZ's number one boxer, gaining multiple national and Oceania titles in her 15-year career but it was at home where she faced her toughest battle.

After working with ladies from the Women's Refuge, Smith has found the courage to share her own story of abuse and for the first time talk publicly about it.

Smith was relentless in the ring, but she was the one taking the hits at home.

"I had never experienced anything like that before being hit by somebody, being hit by a man, being hit with anger. Boxing was different - it's sport, you're scoring points. It's very different from being hit with emotion and with hate."

For two years Smith was in this abusive relationship. While she was rising up the boxing ranks in NZ, her personal life was spirally out of control.  And at times she feared for her life.

"It wasn't like it was a daily thing - sometimes it would be weeks without anything, but then all of a sudden you see the eyes change and you just know.

"People always say, 'She was tough she can handle it,' but when you think you're going to be killed - you can't handle that."

So why did she choose to stay?

"I can't even answer that other than stupidity and possibly low self-esteem. I knew I didn't deserve it, but I knew I deserved to be treated better, but I then I didn't do anything about it.

"But I just need to have the courage to get up and go out the door one day, and never go back."

Fifteen years on from walking out that door, Smith is inspiring the women from the refuge. Most have been forced to live their lives with their guard up, but not anymore.

"It's mainly skill-based, with boxing being the vehicle to feeling good about themselves, that confidence.

"You can see their eyes smiling at you and see how proud they are of themselves when they accomplish something - that to me means more than anything."

Out of all Smith's triumphs in the ring, giving her time to these women has turned out to be her greatest victory.

The Hui