parent opinion

"The heartbreaking question my 11-year-old son asked me after he saw the Fortnite attack."

Warning: This story deals with violence and abuse.

If you’re a parent, you know you can lecture your kids about stuff until your voice is hoarse – but nothing teaches them a lesson like seeing consequences. And this week, the internet did just that – showed our kids what happens when you feel entitled to behave in a certain way.

In an allegedly criminal way. In a way that makes you part of the problem with the epidemic of domestic violence in Australia.

Yes, I’m talking about that disgusting video of a ‘man’, responding to his pregnant partner when she asked him to stop playing a video game and come to dinner. The gamer named “MrDeadMoth” called her a dog, screamed profanity, and allegedly hit her – in a sustained attack, with their small children audibly screeching in distress about what they were witnessing.

We know all of this because he was connected to a live stream, and the world saw and heard most of it. Which was fortunate, because it gave those who were watching the alleged assault the chance to alert the police, leading to the man’s arrest and him being charged, and served with an AVO. As the video went viral, he was also sacked from his job.

Mamamia Out Loud is the podcast with what women are talking about. This week, they discuss the alleged Fortnite assault, and how much it actually has to do with a video game. Post continues below.

Now of course, I would have much preferred my 11-year-old had not seen this deeply disturbing video. But, before I’d even heard about it, he and his friends were watching it, sharing it, and talking about it on WhatsApp. They were distraught. They were appalled. They had lots of questions. And my son asked me all of them:

Why did he hit her when she made dinner for him? Why didn’t he just pause the game? Why did he call her a dog? Why didn’t he stop when the kids started crying?

Why didn’t he stop? Why did he tell her he pays the bills – what difference does that make?

Why didn’t he turn off the camera?

All excellent questions. But it was the last one that gave me the most chills.

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I wanted to explain he’d just responded like a child who didn’t get his way – but that would have been an insult to children.

I wanted to say that the guy was in the midst of a tantrum and didn’t think of it – but that’s not true. MrDeadMoth knew exactly what he was doing. We discovered yesterday he’s 26, a rising IT star, a model employee for an Australian telco. He wasn’t too distracted by the fight to remember the camera was on.

No, he left the camera on, deliberately, because he didn’t care who was watching. Because he felt entitled to behave in the unbridled, disproportionate, and violent way he did.

Because that’s exactly how abusers feel – as though they have a right to treat anyone the way they want. To take out all their anger and frustrations on their family.

MrDeadMoth felt entitled to attack his pregnant partner, in front of their children and the world, and then resume gaming as if nothing happened. And he planned to join his family at the dinner table when he was ready.

I didn’t want to explain all of these things to my son in response to his questions – but then, I also wanted him to understand what he had seen. This was domestic violence, family violence, abuse – as real as it gets.

This is what is behind every news story he sees where a woman has been murdered by her partner or former partner. It’s this attitude, this utter disrespect, which is killing an Australian woman on average every week.

In a way, I’m glad my son saw the video. He’s learned some big lessons. He’s learned about the friends he has; from their conversations and responses, he now truly knows the kind ones from the ones bereft of empathy.

He’s seen how frustrating it is for someone living with you to deal with your face constantly in a phone, or playing a game.

And he’s now had his first experience, in his memory, of domestic violence. Of its impact on families. Of its consequences on an abuser.

And that’s something he’ll never forget.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

If you’d like to hear more from Nama Winston, see her stories here, and subscribe to her weekly Mamamia Parents newsletter here.

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