Ruby Tui: Rugby star's chaotic childhood of drugs and violence

Source: Sunday

Warning: Some people may find topics in this story distressing.

New Zealand rugby star Ruby Tui has for the first time lifted the lid on her turbulent childhood - trying methamphetamine, attempting suicide and watching a woman die from a drug overdose.

Escaping the violence of her step-father, who hit her so hard she bled from the mouth, she went and stayed with her real father in Wellington, gravitating to a house full of his friends.

It was there, aged 10, Tui first smoked P.

"I didn't know what P was, really. It was just the powdered one, the smoke was a bit thicker. It was just a normal thing and I thought to be cool, it's what you did."

It was also in that drug house she saw one of her father's friends overdose and die.

"It was a pretty harrowing experience, watching someone OD like, basically in our arms. Me and dad were trying to save her, watching her body go limp with dad, and dad being really upset because he was trying to help her.

"It was just a bit of pivotal moment in my life, because drugs were so casual and everything as a kid. I didn't know what I was doing but I was helping get the product around."

"There was also "one time I wanted to end it all and I gave it a crack, but it obviously didn't work, thank goodness".

Ruby was just 11 when she saw her dad's friend die from an overdose. She then vowed she'd never let drugs rip her family apart.

Tui's mum wanted her daughter to return to the West Coast. But her step-father's violence was worse than before.

One day he started up, but all of a sudden there were police lights, and the family escaped to Women's Refuge.

"So proud of mum," she says. "I'm so proud of mum. The reality is domestic violence happens unfortunately and not everyone gets out."

She wants others to know it is possible to escape from those situations.

As a child, she thought, “I'm never getting out of this. I want kids to know, it's not forever. You're not condemned, you can choose."

After plenty of success on the sevens field and her refreshing media antics off it, she's now approaching her next challenge - the Rugby World Cup with the Black Ferns.

"Women's rugby is such a huge vehicle for change and, you know, sticking up for things you should believe in. And I know if Aotearoa gets behind the Black Ferns, we're going to blow the world away. Like, we're just going to blow the world away."

HELP RESOURCES Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 to talk to a counsellor 09 623 4812 Free resource and information centre web chat, email chat or free text 5626

Free Helpline – Shine domestic violence Helpline 0508-744-633, free 24/7