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If we wont believe Women, we need to start believing Men.




It was about 11pm when I opened the door to the Mother and her 3 children.  The oldest daughter was already at my house, having been directed here after the mother had told her it wasn’t safe to come home. They were all in their pyjamas. No shoes, evidence of the clear panic and speed with which they left their house. I ushered them in quickly, looking to see the gate was closing. Tears rolled down the 14 year olds face. No expression. No words. Just tears. She wiped them away robotically. Instinctively I pulled her in for a hug. I had never met her before.

 

The mother apologised profusely. For showing up out of the blue. For inconveniencing me. For needing help. For having nowhere else to go. Ultimately she was apologising for the actions of a man that had just threatened to kill her and her three youngest children with a knife. The man was her husband.

 

I made hot chocolate while my own daughter put the Mario Cart movie on and beds were being made upstairs. The weight of what everyone had just experienced sat heavily amongst us under blankets on the couch. Camouflaged by giggles of the movie and requests for snacks. No one spoke of it. There were no words. Not yet anyway.

My mind and heart raced as my face remained warm and calm. “Security cameras on. Locations off. Create safety. Minimise trauma. Check for unusual cars in the street.”

 

Breathe.

 

Jenny and Gretyl Petelczyc also provided a safe house for their friend after she left and abusive husband.  This week they were murdered in their own home by a man demanding they tell him where his wife was. His wife wasn’t there, so he killed them both.

 

The women knew he was violent. Capable of murder. They knew they were in imminent danger. He had told his wife he would kill her.  He had shown them before how dangerous he was. They knew. The police had been informed several times and the daughter was told by the police that there was “Nothing they can do”.

 

I was told the same thing when I called the day following the knock on my own door. I’m uncertain what was told to the neighbours when they called after hearing screaming and threats of death earlier in that night but I know there was no follow up. “Nothing they can really do” until someone has been assaulted and is willing to report it. Hard to do when your dead.

 

The rage in the Ariel Bombara’s (the shooters daughter) voice was hard to ignore when she spoke to the press yesterday. Consumed with grief and rage she spoke out loud and shared that the police didn’t take her concerns seriously when she told them on three separate occasions that she feared she and her mother were in imminent danger. She said what we all know.  It’s not good enough. The system is broken. It’s simply not good enough. Something needs to change.

 

I feel her rage.  I feel her grief.  I feel her exhaustion.  I work with women who have experienced men’s violence every week.  It’s devastating at times and this week I’m left feeling like nobody really cares. It’s hard to believe they do when this continues to happen and “there’s nothing we can do” feels like a standard response by police and the general public are more interested in defending the “good men” rather than acknowledging that men’s violence against women is a national fucking emergency.

 

Most often, when men kill their intimate partners or attempt to kill them, there are signs that indicate this is going to happen. Most often. They tell them that they are going to kill them. It is rarely a complete surprise to the people around them.  It may sound horrific, to say it isn’t a surprise.  Maybe you think it sounds flippant, but it isn’t flippant. It is just true.  I am no longer surprised when violent men kill their partners or ex partners. While Ariel was traumatised.  There was nothing in her press conference which showed surprise.

She told us all that they knew he was going to try and kill them. Men that kill women they “love” have usually told them several times before that they are going to do it.

 

Stop being surprised when they do. Start being horrified.  Start caring. If we still won’t believe women, can we at least start believing men?

 

Start now.

 

One woman dies as a result of interpersonal violence every 4 days in Australia.  Make no mistake about it. This. Is. A. National. Emergency

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