(Content warning: Mentions violence, murder, attempted murder)
Do you remember Lauren? She called me today.
“Did you hear the news? The story about the woman and her kids in Queensland?”
I had. I’d been reading several accounts of this horrific murder suicide and I felt things I can no longer describe. There literally are no words.
“It could have been me! It was so close to being me. I was a sitting duck for so long!”
I could tell Lauren was scared. The safety of her hidden home disappears when she reads of yet another woman or child who didn’t make it out alive . Another woman murdered by an intimate partner.
Lauren has lived this nightmare for years. When the man who was threatening to murder her was found in her home by the police she was offered no protection despite there being a current family violence intervention order in place. Her ex husband was held in custody for less than 24 hours and let go without charge
He was let go.
He had threatened to murder her many times. He had been violent. There was a family violence intervention order in place. There were voice messages in her phone threatening to murder her and they let him go.
The next day the police found him outside Lauren’s house. They told him to go home. No arrest, no charge. They simply told him to go home.
But Lauren couldn’t go home. If she did she knew she wouldn’t ever make it out alive. He was looking for her and he wasn’t giving up.
Lauren fled to a friends house but it was only a temporary arrangement. She had to find somewhere else fast but the organisations meant to help couldn’t because Lauren has an 18 year old son living with her. The fact he has a disability meant nothing. She couldn’t get help because she couldn’t take her son with her and she couldn’t leave him behind.
“I just can’t fathom the pain from that Mother,” Lauren said today through tears. “I know I will never be truly safe but I’m safer than I have ever been right now.”
Every time another woman is murdered by an intimate partner Lauren and thousands like her are going to break down. They feel it. These aren’t just strangers in a news article for women like Lauren. They are them. They aren’t reading headlines, they’re reading their own future. It’s what they fear most and they know the monster who does this is still out their hunting them. They can almost feel the breath of the killer on the back of their neck every day. They will never ever be truly safe. There is nothing that can protect them.
Lauren is only safe for today because the people who support this page pitched in and raised money for a private rental for Lauren and her children. They’re there and they’re safe. But no system or service or organisation helped them. You did.
Today in the news I read the headlines about this horrific murder of three small children and the attempted murder of their mother, ‘Footy Star kills his kids.’ ‘Ex NRL player kills kids and tries to kill his wife.’
Not ‘Cold blooded murderer can’t handle relationship breakdown, kills kids and attempts to murder their Mother.’ No, first and foremost he’s a ‘Footy Star.’ That’s what he media wants you to think of him.
Then I saw in the comments someone say that the Mother acted selfishly by getting out of the car while she was alight. She should have stayed in there and burned to death. Because apparently as a Mother she shouldn’t feel any will to live if her babies are dead. ‘Why did she get out of the car? I wouldn’t have gotten out of the car,’ said the poster. ‘I could never live without my babies.’
This woman was being judged for her actions while her entire body was on fire during an attempted murder. Other commentators agreed. She was acting selfishly by trying to survive.
Lauren won’t be sleeping well tonight. As each day passes and another woman is murdered by an intimate or former partner Lauren is reminded that but for the help of strangers she was to be next.
We will do everything in our power to make she is safe but what of all the other women?
It’s only a matter of time before the next ‘Footy Star’ makes the headlines.
*Since publishing this article we are devastated to learn Hannah Baxter, Mother of these three beautiful children has sadly passed away due to injuries sustained in this brutal attack.
On Saturday March 7 (6:30pm - 8:30pm) we are holding a panel event and packing day for International Women’s Day to discuss the topic of equality including why we see headlines like ‘Footy Star’ and why women are still being judged and blamed even in the middle of their own murder or attempted murder.
Money raised from this event will provide training and employment opportunities for women experiencing homelessness and domestic abuse to help boost their financial independence and confidence.
Tickets are $20 and include a $20 Kala Space voucher, tote bag and other gifts. Please join us and find out how you can help more women like Lauren.