opinion

13 women, 11 weeks. The article we don't want to write anymore.

On Wednesday morning, a 27-year-old woman named Gabriella Thompson was murdered.

According to friends, she was “quiet” and “shy”. A mother to a baby girl, Thompson is described as having a tough upbringing, but growing into a “kind” and “beautiful” young woman.

The night before, neighbours overheard arguing from the house in Glendale, west of Newcastle.

At approximately 10:30am the following morning, Thompson was allegedly stabbed repeatedly by the father of her child.

WATCH: Women and violence, the hidden numbers. Post continues after video…

Tafari Walton, 21, had only seven weeks prior been granted bail and released on parole. He had a history of mental illness and domestic abuse, and two years earlier had staged a tense siege involving a firearm against police outside his mother’s home.

The details of the attack on Thompson are too horrific to bear repeating here.

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Emergency services arrived on the scene, and Thompson was transported to John Hunter Hospital. She died shortly after arrival.

The following day, Walton was shot dead by police after threatening them with a knife. A little girl will now grow up without a mother or a father.

How can one put into words all the things Thompson will never be able to do? It feels ridiculous to even try. And all because the father of her child allegedly thought her life was his to take.

If you’re a woman between the ages of 18 and 44, then intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to illness, disability and premature death, according to White Ribbon.

Thompson was the thirteenth woman in Australia – that we know of – killed violently in 11 weeks, the Counting Dead Women Australia researchers of Destroy The Joint tell us.

One week ago it was Preethi Reddy, murdered at 32, her body found in a suitcase.

In February, it was Darshika Withana, aged in her 40s. Police and paramedics were called to a block of units in Balga, where the woman died at the scene. A 44-year-old man, believed to be her partner, has been charged with her murder.

In January, it was an unnamed 31-year-old woman, who had friends over at her home in Pretty Pine when she was shot in the head.

Her unnamed husband has been charged with manslaughter.

“Domestic violence…” a friend of Thompson’s said following her brutal murder.

“It happens so often unfortunately, what can we do about it?” she asked, the question underpinned with a sense of hopelessness.

But it’s not hopeless.

We know what we can do about it, because research has emphatically told us.

The first, is that no matter how often these stories take place, we write about them. We talk about them. We share them.

The nature of news is that we focus on the unusual – the exceptional. The headline ‘Woman murdered by partner’, is at this point, neither.

But we can’t accept the one woman a week statistic as inevitable. It is our national shame – a crisis that needs be addressed urgently on an individual and governmental level.

Fiona McCormack, the CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria says at an individual level, we need “zero tolerance of violence against women”.We need to understand that these men are not monsters, but everyday people who live among us. Furthermore, we need to challenge “sexist or derogatory attitudes towards women,” because, as McCormack puts it, “violence is the ultimate expression of sexism”.

On a social level, we need to intervene earlier. McCormack says we need to empower women with the early warning signs, and interrupt acts of violence before they evolve.

As it stands, Australia has an outstanding national framework and national action plan. But, as McCormack says, “it’s only as effective to the extent to which it’s invested in”.

In 2018, the budget invested $18.2 million to frontline family violence services and to increasing national awareness – a figure that simply is not enough.

In the same year, they investment $1.2 billion into preventing terrorism – which is incredibly important, but offers an interesting contrast.

Change, we know, starts with the individual.
Stories like these aren’t ones we want to write – because they simply shouldn’t be happening. They’re horrific and distressing and are now woven into the fabric of everyday Australian life.
But these are the stories we will continue to publish, until one day, we don’t have to anymore.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.

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