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Background

Rosie Batty’s 11yr old son was murdered by his father at cricket practice in a small community outside Melbourne.1)

Rosie and her husband Greg were separated and although there was a history of family violence and this meeting was not in breach of the Domestic Violence Order already in place.

Sadly, ambulances and police arrived too late to save a little boy’s life and a country town’s innocence, lost to domestic violence in a final and cruel act.

Responsibility

Domestic violence doesn’t just happen behind closed doors, it touches families, friends and even in cases like this, an entire community. The children who watched Greg kill his son - and subsequently the police shoot him - were unfairly exposed to something no child should expect to see in modern Australia.

Healing for these children and their families will take time, support and an environment where their trauma is validated and their innocence unquestioned. They are not responsible for this random violence, or the effect it will have on the people around them.

Sadly, support for victims of domestic violence is veiled somewhat by a misplaced responsibility which questions why they stay in a violent relationship or they don’t report the violence. There is little compassion for the fear a victim feels at the thought of creating a far worse situation by making their attacker angry.

Even when a victim (like Rosie) makes a stand against the abuse and leaves, there is no guarantee the violence will end and even if it does, the victim is still faced with a lingering attitude that suggests the victims should have done something differently, or something more. 2)

For Rosie, nothing will bring her child back, nothing will ever completely heal her heart and rebuilding her life will take time but her efforts to raise awareness of the realities of domestic violence in Australia are helping people understand.

Her honest and powerful response to Studio 10 commentator Joe Hildebrand has highlighted the way responsibility for domestic violence is placed on the victim, rather than the perpetrator.

an Open Letter to Rosie Batty

Dear Rosie,

I wanted to say thank you. Your comments on Studio 10 were true and needed to be said. We do punish the victim, even in the systems designed to assist them. You must be exhausted, please know that what you are doing is an inspiration to the rest of us.

I am sure my experience is not unique. I am presently waiting for a Victims of Crime settlement to be paid so I can access the ongoing help I need to continue my recovery after I fled across the country to safety. The final assault was November 2011, my husband was charged within 6 months and got a good behaviour bond.It has taken me 3 years so far to begin to regather the broken pieces that used to be me.

I had opportunity to point this out to the magistrate and the lawyers at the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal hearing. The discrepancy between my husband’s experience and mine - my husband went home from court after being charged, knowing he was guilty and had been charged as such he would have walked in the door, lit a cigar and turned on the TV, His life and surroundings unchanged. Meanwhile, for the next year I sat shell shocked, homeless and unable to function on any normal before beginning to crawl back with the help and support of family and counsellors.

I am no wimp, and I’ve faced down some things in my life but this was the hardest thing I have ever done. Sure there is assistance, but to get it I still had to fight, to prove I deserved better.

I am lucky. I made it to a successful outcome that will help me get the help I need. I am grateful for all the help I have had, many women never make it this far; the complexity and confusion around the process would be impossible for some and so many women are most alone at this most vulnerable time.

Your words on Studio 10 made me cry, but I wasn’t sad for a change. I actually believe you will make a change, and that people are starting to listen and finally, to understand.

Thankyou, from the bottom of my heart.

MelodieM

In response to Rosie Batty’s eloquent and powerful statement to comments made by Joe Hildebrand regarding the responsibility to report abuse.

australia


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