In 2003, Simonne Butler’s violent partner, Antoine Dixon, high on methamphetamine, cut off both her hands with a samurai sword. Her hands were reattached in a ground-breaking marathon surgery and she spent the next decade healing her mind, body and spirit.
I started this book with mixed feelings as like many New Zealanders I had followed this story through the media and asked myself why had Simonne got herself into this situation, and why didn’t she leave the violent relationship? But after reading her story, I now understand how life circumstances shape our lives and how people can cling to the hope they can change others with love and support and hopefully the next day will be better.
This is a powerful book and Simonne shares her background growing up in a challenging household where a cycle of abuse was prevalent. Fed up with supporting her alcoholic mother, Simonne moved out of the family home and into a flat when she was twenty-one, and during that time met Tony, who was her friend Shasta’s boy-friend.
Tony began stalking Simonne, and their friendship grew as she explains, “Tony was so funny, determined and resourceful. He was so into me it was hard not to get caught up in it all. He was exciting and what seemed like a little dangerous.”
As the story unfolds, the reader is drawn into the life of the couple who are soon living together and Simonne learns that Tony is still married and concerned his wife will take their children to Australia. Life with Tony is erratic and at times dangerous, and while Simonne does attempt to leave him, he draws her back until she is too exhausted to be able to get away.
Simonne has not spared the reader in her description of the attack, its graphic detail is harrowing and you feel you have to read on. She has shared her life in pictures as well, wonderful snapshots of a girl growing up in New Zealand, photos of the surgery and then life post-surgery.
Simonne Butler is to be congratulated for being able to share her story in Double-Edged Sword. It is a must-read book for young adults upwards, as Simonne has vividly described many of the oppressive traits that abusers can exhibit.
It is also an inspiring read, as this brave woman overcame extreme stress and trauma to rebuild her life, taking it in new directions after graduating with a Diploma of Naturopathy from Wellpark College of Natural Therapies. In February 2013, she began a formal shamanic apprenticeship at the Medicine Woman Centre for Shamanic Studies after studying with a master shaman since 2006.
Reviewed By Lesley McIntosh
Double-Edged Sword – The Simonne Butler Story
by Simonne Butler, with Andra Jenkin
Published by Mary Egan Publishing