In her final moments, Hannah Clarke made a phone call to her dad.

This post deals with the topic of domestic violence and might be triggering for some readers.

In February 2020, Hannah Clarke and her three children, Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, were killed by Hannah's estranged husband, after he ambushed her car on the morning school run. 

There, in broad daylight on a normally quiet street in Brisbane, he took the lives of the four people he ought to have loved most. Unwilling to live with the consequences, he also took his own.

During what would have been Hannah's final moments, she called her dad, Lloyd Clarke.

"My daughter Hannah phoned me. It's a call that will haunt me until the day I see her again," he wrote for The Australian this week. "When I answered, there was no one on the other end, and I assumed that it was a pocket dial or one of her kids playing with her phone."

Watch: the impact of coercive control. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia. 

Just a couple of hours later, police knocked on Lloyd's door, notifiying him and his wife Sue Clarke that their beloved grandchildren had been murdered, and Hannah was dying from her injuries.

"Hannah had survived his cowardly attack, but would succumb to her injuries later that day. Her last act of resistance was to reach out for her dad. But she couldn't talk to me," Lloyd wrote.


"In so many ways, that desperate final phone call is a metaphor for what happens to victims of coercive control. Coercive control is about taking away the person's voice, and ultimately their identity. That's how control is truly exerted."

Reflecting on the warning signs of coercive control in Hannah's marriage, Lloyd said there "were too many to count".

"Yes, they included financial control, but it was so much more. Coercive control included dictating what she could wear, who she could spend time with, her social media accounts, tapping her phone, tracking her car. Her killer threatened self-harm if she didn't give in to his demands. He asked friends to spy on her. He isolated her from our family. He snatched Laianah and took her out of the state."

It was a pattern of behaviour. It's for these reasons why stand-alone coercive control laws are so crucial, Lloyd noted. It's something the Clarke family have been campaigning avidly for.

Hannah Clarke with her kids Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey. Image: Supplied.


Coercive control is a predictor of severe physical violence and homicide.

New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania have stand-alone laws criminalising coercive control. Lloyd and Sue Clarke, along with countless other advocates and experts, have been calling on all states and territories to do the same. Victoria is still not budging though, with so far no plans to enact stand-alone laws.

Speaking to Mamamia today, Sue Clarke said: "Perhaps they [the Victorian Government] don't watch the news or read the papers, because there have been many Victorians among the women killed by people who are supposed to love them. We will keep the conversation going."

In recent years, the Clarke family has set up the Small Steps 4 Hannah Foundation, which they founded in Hannah's name.

The foundation has an education program as well called H.A.L.T. named after Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey. It's a program for schools and community-based youth groups, helping them to understand what a healthy and respectful relationship should look like. 

They also opened a Brisbane safe house in conjuction with Beyond DV, for women and children who are fleeing domestic violence and coercive control. It's aptly called Hannah's Sanctuary.


"We're also now rolling out our Hannah's Story program, which is targeted at adults through corporate and community groups. That's about recognising the red flags of coercive control and knowing how to respond to them," says Sue. 

"We were put on this journey against coercive control four years ago next month. Lloyd and I never would have asked for this level of public exposure, but as we were thrust into the limelight we decided that we would try to make something positive out of such a horrific event."

Hannah Clarke's parents Lloyd and Sue Clarke, as well as domestic violence murder victim Allison Baden-Clay's parents Priscilla and Geoff Dickie. The parents were at Parliament House in Brisbane to see the Queensland Government introduce laws that criminalise coercive control in the state. Image: AAP.


Next month the Clarke family will be commemorating the anniversary of losing their daughter and grandchildren.

"We will do what we normally do," says Sue.

"We ask people to light a candle at sundown and think about Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey, as well as all the victims of domestic violence and intimate partner homicide. It's for all of them that we continue this fight to H.A.L.T. coercive control and make a safer Australia for all families."

As Sue Clarke notes: "We don't want them forgotten. We can't keep having women and children murdered every week, it's just too much. So if we can save someone's life, we're doing something right." 

For more about the work The Small Steps 4 Hannah Foundation is doing, you can visit their website here

If this has raised 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. 

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a Queensland-based organisation that helps women and families move on after the devastation of domestic violence. If you would like to support their mission to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most, you can donate here.

Feature Image: Supplied.