Luke Batty’s violent death on Wednesday night sent the community reeling. The first reactions were of shock and anger that a father could kill his own child in this way. But as more information came to light, sentiment shifted. As Kate Forster discusses in this powerful post, a major catalyst for that shift from anger was the extraordinary grace shown by Luke’s mother Rosie Batty, when she made a statement to the media.
Yesterday, most of Melbourne seemed to be numb, with the news of a horrific murder of a young boy by his own father.
As the story unfolded throughout the day, sadness turned to questions, which by evening, judging from the messages in blogs and updates on my Facebook feed, had turned into a spew of vile anger and frenzied calls for the father to ‘rot in hell.’
I think that father was in hell before he died. Hell is living with that level of anger and mental illness. Hell is paranoia, and hurting the person you love most in the world.
In the midst of all of this craziness, it was the mother of the boy who calmed down the cyclone of raw anger, by bravely facing a media scrum to talk about family violence, mental illness, and the love her ex-partner had for their son.
While I noted shock in her swollen eyes, I also saw resignation and amazingly, compassion. She tried for 11 years to help the man, and protect her son. For 11 years she succeeded in keeping herself and her son safe. She was at war for 11 years. Her ex-partner was at war with himself and everyone else around him, for the same amount of time.
There are no winners in this war. None.
The projection of self-hatred onto his son was enough for him to kill the child. The projection of his own self harm was enough to force police to shoot him.
This is not our tragedy to grieve. It is a tragedy to be viewed with compassion, and one where we ask how we can prevent this from happening again.
The incredible grace and sense that Rosie Batty showed yesterday, after the death of a man she once loved, and a son she loved more than life itself, was unlike anything else I have ever seen.
Today people are making sense again. Today there is compassion and people calling for journalists and others in the media to be more responsible with their words. Today people are still in their judgement.
It took a mother’s love to remind us.
Even now, after her beloved Luke is gone, she is protecting him. She is exceptional. She is what a mother should be.
* This post originally appeared on Kate Forster’s blog. It appears here with full permission.