It's ridiculous to say that violence against women is never OK.
Of course it's OK in this country. If it wasn't OK, Australian governments would do something about it. They aren't.
Again, a man murders his wife and children. The murder of a woman by a man happens about once a week in Australia. That number is not changing.
Which means governments are forcing women to take every single ounce of responsibility to keep themselves safe. This is neither right nor fair. Women should not have to protect themselves and their children from violent abusers and murderers. I write this as news emerges of Hannah Baxter, the eighth woman to be killed violently this year. She and her three children, Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey, aged between three and six, were murdered by their father.
But since women must protect themselves, I've got some advice from experts in the area of gendered violence. That's what it is. Violence against women by men.
The time after separation is key. It's a time of heightened risk to women and their children. Ask the Queensland Coroner's Office. It now has more deaths to investigate. But its 2014 annual report showed a strong correlation between separation and homicide - between 2006 and 2013, 43 per cent of Queensland women killed by their male partner were separated or intended to separate from the perpetrator. The First Report of the Victorian Systemic Review of Family Violence Deaths said 37 per cent of the 133 intimate partner homicide incidents in Victoria between 2000 and 2010 involved individuals who had separated or divorced. And the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team Annual Report 2012-13 recorded that in two-thirds of all intimate partner homicides where a woman was killed, the victim and perpetrator had either recently separated or were in the process of separating, concluding the period directly after separation may be high-risk for women in relationships involving domestic and family violence.
The Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Network analyses data on domestic and family violence-related homicide, to support prevention efforts. From the 121 cases where a man killed a female partner between 2010 and 2014, over one-third of those men (36.4 per cent) killed a former partner, and of the cases where there was a current relationship at the time of the homicide, in just under one-third of the cases one or both parties had indicated an intention to separate. No wonder the network concludes separation or intention to separate is a key characteristic of male-perpetrated intimate partner homicides.
That's the evidence, wrangled by the folks at Our Watch, who do very good work in getting the message out. Clear, compelling, horrifying. Unfortunately, the federal government, which has the power to stem gendered violence in Australia, is more interested in appeasing Pauline Hanson with her ludicrous Family Court inquiry than in actually stopping deaths.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics issued more analysis on its 2016 Personal Safety Survey and it makes for scary reading. Of the women who separated from their violent current partner but returned, 39 per cent had experienced violence once during the relationship, 36 per cent experienced violence a little of the time, while one in five experienced violence some, most, or all of the time.
Of course, dead women don't get to respond to the Personal Safety Survey.
So what can women do to protect themselves (and how terrifying it's come to this)?
Jane Monckton Smith, a forensic criminologist at the University of Gloucestershire, has researched violence against women for three decades and will release her new book In Control to be published by Bloomsbury later this year. She knows the pattern of violence against women by men and can describe in detail the signs that may predict who will end up dead at the hands of a current or former partner.
Monckton Smith says protecting yourself is particularly important when you've been in a relationship with someone who is controlling, who tries to micromanage all the details of your relationship, who wants to know who you are with and what you are doing.
"If you want to break up a relationship like that, you need to plan," she says.
There are three key markers that predict fatal violence - any acts of violence, such as pushing and shoving; any sign of controlling behaviours, and separation, says Monckton Smith.
Unfortunately, the federal government, which has the power to stem gendered violence in Australia, is more interested in appeasing Pauline Hanson with her ludicrous Family Court inquiry than in actually stopping deaths.
"You don't need to have been beaten up to be in danger. If you have been controlled and you are going to end the relationship you need to take your safety very seriously," she says. That's particularly true if that male partner has stalked the victim or threatened to kill himself in the period of separation.
"That's a threat to commit homicide and they will take the family with them."
As Patty Kinnersely, chief executive of Our Watch says, we must create a society with a focus on gender equality and that's big picture. In Australia, that big picture is some way down the track.
We must also make sure that women have fantastic, unbreakable access to support services; and workplaces must be ready to listen and to support.
If you work with a woman who's just separated from a partner, if you are a woman who has just separated from a partner, support her. That does not mean putting your arm around her shoulder and saying: "There, there." It means knowing what the best possible services are. It means knowing what financial support is available. It means knowing where there are safe houses. It means helping women keep distance from violent men.
That's the hardest thing but while the responsibility is on women to keep themselves and their children safe, it's the only thing we can do to help. It may not even work. As Hannah Baxter's sister-in-law wrote on Facebook: "We will miss them all more than anything! We need your help to support her parents, Sue and Lloyd who have exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster."
- Jenna Price is an academic at the University of Technology Sydney and a regular columnist.
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