Men get pushed in to doing things. A father can’t see his children as much as he wants to and is left with no choice but to lash out.

We don’t know what happens behind closed doors. Who really knows what their relationship was like behind the scenes. Women can be manipulative – or she might not have been faithful! People need to understand that fathers feel pain. And that the law courts punish fathers. What options are left to men? Its no wonder. Its clear: violent public murders are really the only option left.

What a world we live in when people’s first response to domestic terrorism is to absolve violent perpetrators. They are good guys. Great blokes. Violent murder is violent murder. Violent murderers are not good blokes. The man who violently murdered Hannah Clarke was a violent murderer. A “good man” did not “snap”. A man escalated his violent and controlling behaviour. A man chose to immolate his children in a public place, rather than share custody of them. A man chose to violently murder his ex-partner rather than move on. A man chose to violently kill himself rather than face the police. A man chose to strike terror in to the public. This was not a moment of weakness, this was an escalation to act of violent extremism. Of intimate domestic terrorism.

This man’s violent act has irrevocably damaged the lives of the witnesses that looked on in terror. The neighbour who valiantly tried to rescue the three children in the back of that car will never un-see their faces. The brave neighbours that rushed to Hannah’s aide, despite the physical threat of the nearby violent terrorist will never un-see her burns. No one rushing forward knew what this man was planning to do next – their bravery was incredible.

The emergency service personnel that responded to the scene will never forget what they found. All of these humans will never un-see what they witnessed. Never un-smell what they smelt. Un-hear the screams. They will be haunted by the actions of this violent man. Simple things will be forever changed: the smell of petrol, the crackle of fire, the street they live on, their homes, their lawns, their lives. Their lives will never be the same.

Survivors of other violent men will be dealing with flashbacks of their own past. Their own mortality. Their own guilt for escaping. Those still searching for a way to escape their own violent situations will see this as a warning of what could happen. It makes their fears very real. The Australian Government defines a terrorist act as an act that intends to coerce or influence the public to advance an ideological cause by causing death. This violent man’s actions will have influenced the public. It will have reminded those trapped in relationships with violent men that they face the very real threat of death if they leave. The ideology that men can be pushed in to violence has been advanced. The belief that women can force a man to violence through their actions has been advanced. Women have been reminded of what happens if they leave: that they will not be safe.

This violent reminder was reinforced by the Queensland Police. Their spokesperson’s comments that there can apparently be “two sides” to a violent act that struck terror in the hearts of our nation when a father set fire to his children reminds women of their place. This critical reinforcement that men can be “pushed” to murder reminds women, the most vulnerable women in our society, that their safety can not be guaranteed and that they may even be blamed for their own murders. How do you escape a position of terror and fear if the agency that you will most need help and protection from all but defends public acts of terror on our streets? Where are these women supposed to go? Where are we as a society supposed to go? Why do we need an “open mind” when a human is set on fire in a suburban street?

We reached a critical point on this issue years ago. The violent death of Hannah and her children should not surprise anyone. This continuation of violent acts by men is the status quo. Hannah will not be the last women to die violently at the hands of a domestic terrorist this year. Women will continue to die and we will continue to be sad and we will continue, as a society to do very little about it.

Our government has reduced funding for shelters that give women fleeing violence somewhere to go. Our police defended this situation, suggesting there were two sides to the story. Our media portrayed this violent murderer as a former football star. Our society questioned what went on behind closed doors – as if there is any act of domestic disharmony that permits public immolation of women and children. We treated a few needles in some strawberries with more conviction that violent murders.

Our society effectively condones violent domestic terrorism through inaction and ambivalence. What are we actually going to do to stop this? In a months time will we remember Hannah and her children as the moment we stepped up and created change – or will she be just another dead woman?

I’m at the point of despair on what to do next. Seriously – what the hell do we do to stop this. What can I do personally? These aren’t hypothetical questions where I next paint the picture of my own smug action: I’m lost. I’m confused. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m upset. I want to tell my kids this kind of stuff will stop. I want to know my friends are safe. I want to know that men will stop killing their families. I want to know there is an end.

Sadly, the only thing I do know is that these violent intimate domestic terrorists aren’t going away any time soon. Not while we apologise for violent men. Not while we refuse to get uncomfortable. Not while we refuse to change the system. We can demand that there is an end – but I don’t know how we actually get there. I know there is a framework for action. I know there is a path. I know we could do it. Just not while we keep doing what we are doing.

  • 1800 Respect – Confidential information, counselling and support service
  • Our Watch – has been established to drive nation-wide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that underpin and create violence against women
  • Share the Dignity – Donate to a women’s charity that makes a real, on-the-ground difference for girls and women experiencing homelessness, domestic violence and period poverty.
  • Chorus – A massive dance project calling for end of violence against women. Check out the documentary here
  • Lifeline – Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
  • eheadspace – eheadspace provides free online and telephone support and counselling to young people 12 – 25 and their families and friends.

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