A reflective piece in response to recent events in Huntingdale, WA
By Dr Alison Evans, Director of Domestic, Family & Sexual Violence
CW: this reflective piece discusses men’s violence against women and their children, domestic and family violence, filicide and other content that may distress readers. Crisis line numbers are included at the end of the piece.
The Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing is the ‘leading voice’ for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence, yet I struggle deeply with what to say about the murders of two young children last week in the Perth suburb of Huntingdale. It is not possible for words to convey the endless depth of such loss, of what has been lost. There are no words to hold the weight of such unbearable grief. I can only begin to imagine the suffering of the children’s mother and family.
It was chilling, gut wrenching to read that the children’s mother made ‘frantic’ calls to WA Police when the children’s father did not arrive with the children at the time and place that they agreed to. This suggests that the children’s mother did not feel that the children’s father was a safe person, that the children were safe in his care. Women often live in fear of what their ex-partner might do to her and her children. Often women are granted a Family Violence Restraining Order only for it to be overridden by Parenting Orders in the Family Court. Often women feel that their ex-partner will harm her and her children if she denies him access.
A deep, gnawing outrage has seeped into my bones, but it feels too soon to dissect and analyse what occurred and what did not occur, and what needs to occur to prevent women and children from being murdered.
When the time is right, dedicated and knowledgeable domestic and family violence specialists, researchers and survivors are at hand to advise governments, legislators, government agencies, businesses and community services on how to build stronger services, supports and systems for women and their children experiencing violence, and to prevent men from perpetrating domestic and family violence. Listening to, understanding, and applying the evidence that we have at hand will help us to build stronger services, and safer systems and communities for women and children. It is a matter of political will and investment.
Women and children being murdered is the worst, most unspeakably horrendous outcome, but it must be stated here very clearly that there are women and children in our communities who are living with the deep, heavy weight of fear. There are women and children living, working, learning, and playing with and amongst us who carry fear around with them day after day. It seeps into their being, into their nervous system, into the pit of their stomach. It becomes what they live and breathe and what they must manage. But do we need more words, more shocking news stories to tell us this, to reveal us to ourselves? I do not want to normalise men who perpetrate domestic and family violence, but they are living, working, learning and playing amongst us and with us too.
Men’s violence against women and children, is a global, national and state emergency yet there is a staggering lack of urgency in preventing and addressing this emergency.
Scourge, outrage, human rights violation, public health crisis …
Murdered, mutilated, stabbed, burnt alive, coerced and controlled, spied on, terrorised, strangled, injured, stalked, trapped, raped, punished, threatened, held against her will…
Fear, trauma, suffering, death…
I don’t know what else to say
In an emergency, or if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call the police now on 000.
If it’s not an emergency and you need support, please contact your local services or contact a crisis line below. These phone services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained, compassionate professionals are available to help you plan for your safety, connect to available resources and discuss the options that are available to you. The calls are confidential.