Today is the day my beautiful boy Luke should have turned thirteen. If life had worked out as it ought to have, I would have woken him this morning with his favourite breakfast.
He would have dragged his surly teenage self out of bed and while I made a fuss and gave him his present, I would have marvelled at how my boy was so quickly morphing into a man.
But instead, all I have is memories and a constant, aching emptiness. Memories of my Luke, forever frozen in the body of an eleven-year-old. Never to graduate from high school, never to don a backpack and set off to explore the world, never to fall in love or have his heart broken.
Today is a day that will be unique to me, for no other mother had a son like my Luke. Yet sadly, it is also a day that will bring a pain tragically familiar to many other mothers: the birthday of a loved one lost to family violence.
Since Luke was killed, I have faced a fundamental choice: rage against the senselessness of his death, or channel that energy and try to make it count for something. Luke was too special not to leave a legacy, and I am determined to forge one for him.
So it is today that I launch the ‘Never Alone’ campaign on behalf of the Luke Batty Foundation.
I want to build a nationwide support group of women and men who commit to standing beside the victims of family violence.
I want us all to have uncomfortable conversations about the way family violence services are funded and about the way the police and judicial systems deal with both the perpetrators and victims of this most pernicious crime.
I want to drag this issue out from the shadows so that no other mother has to experience the pain I will go through today. That I go through every day.
And so, I urge you to join me. Show your support to victims of family violence by signing up at www.neveralone.com.au
In the past year I have spoken out at every opportunity, to have my story heard. It’s a simple story, and one that will resonate with most victims of family violence. Luke and I were not to blame for what happened to us. We were failed by the system – a system that I wrongly believed was there to protect us. A system that desperately needs to change.
Unless we, as a society, make a stand, now, the violence will only continue. There is momentum around this issue now, but it can just as easily dissipate. We need to send the message to victims that they are not alone.
Because together we can make a difference. Together we can help to make birthdays the joyous events they are supposed to be.