Domestic violence is a national horror show: death toll climbs

A national horror show: Domestic violence death toll continues to rise

It was impossible to miss. I clicked on The Age‘s homepage on Thursday just after lunch and saw a sea of women’s faces.

Four of the five lead stories on a major newspaper’s website related to women who had been killed in their homes.

Samantha Fraser a 38 year old psychologist and mother of three whose body was found at her home in Cowes, Philip Island in late July. On Thursday her ex-husband was arrested and charged with her murder.

A Fairfax Media report indicates Samantha was fearful but didn’t know how to get help. The small community in which she lived is shattered. Can you begin to imagine how her three primary school aged children will cope? Her parents? Her friends and family?  The trauma is infinite.

Snezana Stojanovska was 26 and three-months pregnant when she was killed in 2010.

Joy Rowley, a 60 year old mum of three, was murdered in 2011 by a man who had briefly been her partner.

Eight months after disappearing the body of Karen Ristevski, 47, was found and her 54 year old husband Borce will face a trial accused of her murder.

Literally minutes after I shared a tweet expressing my shock at The Age homepage I saw another gut wrenching headline.

A 75-year-old woman was found dead and a man has been taken to hospital at Mango Hill, north of Brisbane, after what paramedics described as a “serious domestic violence incident”.

An hour or so earlier I had digested an alarming report in The Guardian about a police officer in Queensland who shredded  a woman’s rape statement – having not previously spoken to her or investigated the claim, told the suicidal victim they couldn’t “wave a magic wand and fix all of your problems” and had “limited patience” for her.

A few days earlier I reeled over a damning and inexplicable report that a senior constable in Queensland accessed a confidential database and gave a violent man, convicted of domestic violence, who had threatened to kill his former wife and blow up their two children, his ex-wife’s address.

The policeman, who remains employed, texted the man and said “tell her you know where she lives and leave it at that”. She was forced into hiding and he is now on the run.

The Queensland police chief reportedly defended the constable remaining employed to her. Galling isn’t sufficient.

Domestic violence is a national crisis: a horror show with no end. How many women and children need to die before this is taken seriously?

The front page of The Age on Friday gives this scourge the prominence it needs.

There has been a 68% rise in weekly contacts to the 1800RESPECT hotline since September 2017.

Longer term analysis shows that in the first three months of 2014 the service received almost 12,000 contacts compared to the first three months of 2018 when it received more than 28,000 contacts which represents a 133% increase.

But if the women making these calls can’t expect help, in the form of shelters and a sincere commitment from police at the very least, what hope is there?

Without leadership and resources this horror show will continue. The number of families and lives being torn apart by this scourge on a daily basis is monstrous and the inaction is ghastly.  This week, more than ever, it is difficult to conclude this pattern will be arrested anytime soon.

If you are worried about unhealthy, abusive or violent behaviour in any of your relationships, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au 

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