Paula Bennett has revealed she's been physically assaulted three times, received "numerous death threats" and had to call the police to her house in an eye-opening interview about her political career with The AM Show.
The National Party's former deputy leader announced on Monday that she would step away from politics following this year's general election, saying she wants to pivot to the private sector.
On Tuesday morning, the departing MP spoke candidly with Duncan Garner about some of the hardships she's faced during her time in Parliament.
"I've had numerous death threats, I've had police at my house, I've been physically assaulted three times - which I've never said before," she said.
"There were three times - one time, when they chased me and I managed to get in my car and lock it and they kicked my car door... Another time I was just shoved, and one of my colleagues managed to get in and physically restrain the person."
Bennett says while the incidents left her "really quite frightened", she believes each of her attackers had mental illnesses and their assaults "represented how crap their own lives were".
"But then I just decided I'm living my life and doing what I do and I don't want to live it like that," she said.
However the assaults and threats weren't the most painful part of being a high-profile MP, Bennett says. The thing that bothered her most was "the lies" she had to face.
"I never minded people having an opinion on what I did and disagreeing and even being a bit cruel when they didn't agree. My welfare reforms are somewhat controversial, I'm a controversial character - I get that," she said.
"It was when they blatantly lied, and that then almost went viral and hurt my family and I had zero defence."
Bennett did not elaborate on what these 'blatant lies' were, but says the experience left her "worried for young people in this country".
"People can just tell absolute untruths about you and then it gets shared and shared and shared - and it almost becomes someone else's truth."
Bennett's resignation on Monday came just days after that of fellow National MP Anne Tolley. The announcement leaves National's top 20 MPs totally devoid of Māori representation.
Bennett became a Cabinet minister after just three years of being an MP, and has held 14 portfolios in her 15 years in Parliament.
"I believe that much of my success has been due to the incredible people who have worked with and for me," she said on Monday. "I am particularly proud of my work as Minister for Social Development and Child Youth and Family for more than six years."