Newshub's Susie Nordqvist witnesses shocking domestic violence incident

This article discusses domestic violence.

A man who dragged a woman down a driveway by her hair told Newshub presenter Susie Nordqvist to "shut up" and "mind her business" when she attempted to intervene, leaving the journalist and mother-of-two shaken and questioning whether she had done "the right thing".

The Newshub Live at 4:30pm presenter was walking with her husband and two young children in Auckland's Mount Eden on Sunday evening when she spotted two shadowy figures. At first, Nordqvist thought it may have just been an innocent play-fight - but when the family got closer, they realised a man was "pushing around" a woman. 

"He then grabbed her by her hair and started dragging her down the driveway," Nordqvist told Newshub.

"So I said, 'Excuse me, that's no way to be treating anyone. Stop'. He said, 'Shut up, mind your own business'. The woman looked absolutely terrified."

The victim, who had retreated to a nearby driveway, told Nordqvist she was attempting to collect her possessions from the man's property. 

"We walked after her and made sure she was okay. We offered her our phone number, she declined. We [asked] if there was a place she could go, she said, 'I'm just going to go... on the bus'. We told her to get as far away from him as she could... I was fearful of her going back into that situation," Nordqvist said.

"I know how these things work. I was in an abusive relationship once, [but] I got out. I told her, 'You can do better than this'. From my experience, the abusers have a hold over the victims. They are manipulative and make you think you deserve the situation."

Although Nordqvist's husband phoned the police to report the incident, the presenter is now questioning whether they did enough to help the woman. Nordqvist even tweeted about the experience, posing the question - "what is the right thing to do in this situation?" to her followers. 

"I did think, 'Is this the right thing to do?' I don't know... I don't know if the police could make a difference... especially if [the victim] is too afraid to speak out," she said.

"I guess I felt a bit helpless, like I could've done more. I wanted her to be safe... I felt powerless to stop her going back to the house [to get her belongings] and into a potentially dangerous situation. That wouldn't have been safe for her... could I have done more for her? Is she okay? I don't know."

The incident was also a rattling experience for Nordqvist's young children, aged just four and six months. The journalist said she became scared for their safety when the man, who had alcohol on his breath, approached the family with a "menacing look in his eyes". 

"You think about your safety as well, when he was walking towards us with this menacing look. I had my children with me - I don't want my four-year-old to see things like that. He was asking quite a lot of questions afterwards, saying, 'That man's not going to get any presents from Santa, is he?' He wanted to know if she was going to be okay and if [the man] was going to be taken to jail. I made sure he knew that wasn't the right behaviour."

Nordqvist says it's imperative that New Zealanders don't "turn a blind eye", although some may keep walking out of fear for their own safety. She hopes her experience will encourage others not to overlook or ignore incidents of domestic violence.

"We should all be looking out for each other... I just think perhaps if we all speak up, if people [report] these incidents, it could make a difference. It happens more than we realise... [I hope we haven't] just accepted this as part of the fabric of our society.

"He said, 'Shut up and mind your own business'. But I thought, 'I'm going to make it my business to make sure she's okay'."

Earlier in April, NZ Police confirmed there had been a spike in reports of domestic violence under the alert level 4 lockdown, acknowledging that the Government's orders to remain at home and in your bubble were contributing to increased pressure on relationships and families. 

"We know being around the same people 24/7 can be a challenge, and we know for some people this may make them fearful, at risk, or on the edge of doing harm," Assistant Commissioner Sandra Venables said in a statement. 

"We realise this is a hard time for some families and we want them to know police are there for them."

On Monday, the Government issued a pre-Budget announcement confirming that New Zealand's family violence services will receive nearly $203 million in Budget 2020. The Ministry of Social Development is allocated $183 million over the next four years to ensure it can continue to fund access to specialist family violence services. 

Of this, $142 million is for services supporting victims of family violence, $16 million is for services to help perpetrators to stop inflicting family violence and $25 million is to support victims of elder abuse.

A further $19.9 million is allocated to fund a cross-agency initiative with police, justice and health to ensure victims of non-fatal strangulation can access medical, psychological and forensic support to help them through the justice process.

The police have been contacted for comment.

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