Is it just me or do you not accept violence is inevitable?
I can’t remember a worse news week.
A big angry man forcing his way into his family’s car and setting them alight is an image I will never lose. His terrified wife, his burning children.
It hurts to pick over the story but we absolutely have to.
The best way to honour this family is to define how we failed them.
Hannah Baxter’s sister-in-law Stacey Roberts said Ms Baxter’s parents had “exhausted themselves” trying to “help Hannah escape this monster”.
And for God’s sake don’t message me about the custody battle. I think we can all agree that if family separation could lead a man to kill his own children, then his wife was tragically justified in keeping them away from him.
We need to talk about what violence actually is.
The ‘cycle of violence’ theory was developed in 1979 by Dr Lenore Walker. It describes the phases an abusive relationship moves through in the lead up to physical violence.
Do you raise your voice?
Do you throw things?
Do you call your partner names?
Do you yell and swear when you argue?
Do you hit things, not people, but things?
That’s domestic violence.
You don’t have to be physically violent to be a perpetrator. People who constantly criticise and bully, not want their partner to work or have their own money. If you have ever said to your partner, ‘Why do you want to see your family all the time?’ That’s emotional abuse.
Even if you think you are joking when you put your partner down, you are sending the message that you are more important than them, they hold a place in the family only by your good grace.
You need help. And your family needs protection.
The reporting around the death of Hannah Baxter and her children has been slightly better than normal.
As the situation became clear, media outlets quickly dropped the references to his sporting career and supposedly loving posts to his children on Facebook.
This was not a father struggling with separation, it was a selfish, entitled, violent, monster. It was a man with so little respect for his wife and children he considered himself in charge of whether they lived or died.
As a nation, we must stop being bystanders. We must choose to act where we see controlling behaviour, hold perpetrators to account and never turn our backs on victims. Family violence is not inevitable, it is preventable.
Hannah Baxter, I don’t know what happens when we die, but wherever you went on Wednesday night, I hope your beautiful babies were waiting, safely, on the other side.
1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491