UPDATE: This piece originally counted 13 deaths but police have since confirmed one death was not suspicious. The number of verified instances of women killed by violence against women in the past 22 days is ten.
A woman has been killed in Australia almost every second day in October. Ten women have been murdered in 22 days and this slaughter isn’t happening in a far-flung war zone.
It’s happening in our homes, in our backyards, on our beaches, in suburban shopping centres. It’s happening right here, right now.
— Natasha Stott Despoja (@NStottDespoja) October 25, 2018
Fifty-eight women have been killed violently in Australia this year but that deadly count, carefully maintained by the Counting Dead Women Australia researchers of Destroy The Joint, is not on the front page of the newspapers or leading news bulletins.
We despaired when the number of Australian women murdered in 2018 was one, and we despaired each time that hellish, shameful toll grew.
We despaired in June when 30 women had lost their lives to violence.
We despaired when three women were killed on a single Saturday in July.
In August we despaired when women being killed in their homes accounted for four of the five lead stories on a major newspaper’s website.
We despaired in September when police in WA attended another home massacre, the third in less than four months, where two-year-old twin girls, their three-and-a-half-year-old sister, their mother and their grandmother were all found deceased.
— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) October 19, 2018
This week we despair for Toyah Cordingley, the 24 year old woman who was found dead on Wangetti Beach, 34 kilometres from Cairns. She had been walking her dog. We despair for her life and for the loss and grief her friends, family and community now carry.
I can’t stop thinking about how Toyah Cordingley (killed while walking her dog) had shared this post of mine on her FB. I want to bring men together positively to do something about male violence a/g women in the new year with oversight by women (no MRAs). DM’s open if interested https://t.co/lQ9uTq6xrV
— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) October 23, 2018
We despair for the 36-year-old Ethelton woman who died at the Colonnades Shopping Centre in South Australia on Thursday, despite attempts to revive her.
Jacqui Watt, the CEO of No to Violence, says these numbers – and deaths – never get easier to accept.
“It’s always shocking when anybody dies. Always. You never become immune to it,” she says. “The question that gets asked a lot right now is whether it’s getting worse. The answer is it’s definitely not getting better.”
There is real sense of hopelessness, Watt acknowledges, when considering the sheer number of lives being lost.
“And that’s domestic violence at its most extreme,” she says. “We know there are lots of other ways in which DV harms.”
Watt says the picture about the toll domestic violence is exacting is more realistic now – which makes it very clear that we all need to respond.
“It means we all need to step up in the prevention space and the response space – we need to do more to prevent hospitalisations and death,” she says. “That has to be the aim.”
Watt says every single Australian can help to stamp this scourge out.
“Everyone can do something,” she says. “One of the things we offer is bystander training which is a course that we can take into any setting – whether it’s a school, workplace, sporting club – to get people to start thinking about how they can respond to different situations.”
The idea is to skill up people in community to become effective bystanders who are comfortable having difficult conversations with friends and family and responding when they can.
No To Violence also runs a 24/7 counselling line, 1300 766 491, for men using violence.
“We are a pro-feminist organisation and our work with men is informed by our accountability for the safety of women and children,” Watt says. “We believe men make a choice to be violent – and they can make a choice not to be violent.”
Before it gets to that point Watt says the evidence about the drivers of violence against women makes clear the importance of starting respectful relationship education and awareness early.
This can happen in classrooms, at sports practice, around dining tables, in the car, at work – anywhere.
“It has to be a whole of society change that will shift this over time,” Watt says.
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 for advice or support. This free service providing confidential advice is open 24/7.
In an emergency, call the police on 000. All incidents of violence should be reported to the police.
For urgent support call Lifeline 13 11 14
If you are in danger, please call the Police – 000
If you are a man concerned about your own behaviour call the Men’s Referral Service’s number 1300 766 491