opinion

The story we are sick of writing.

We don't want to write this story. We are sick of writing this story. Women keep dying, and nothing is changing — we've been writing this story for more than a decade.

This year 59 Australian women have been murdered, mostly at the hands of men. That number will rise again before Christmas. It always does.

Last year it was 57 women by December 31.

The year before it was 42. In 2020 it was 62. In 2019 it was 65.

We know this because registers like 'Destroy the Joint' have dedicated themselves to counting all women killed by violence in Australia. They too have been doing it for more than a decade, and every year the figure is astronomical. Every December dozens of new families contemplate the festive season without a loved one at the table. 

On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner, and domestic violence results in a police call-out once every two minutes across our country.

Those figures are mind-boggling, and yet somehow we've just come to accept them. The insidious endemic issue of domestic violence murder has become part of our yearly sacrifice.

Watch: If a man lived like a woman for the day.


Video via Mamamia.
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Every year we reflect on the same statistics, the same pleas for change, the same collective anger. Dozens of times a year we literally write the same sentences with the same macabre headlines. Sometimes people click and respond, sometimes they don't. The volume of women is just too overwhelming and acts against them too horrible. Nothing has changed.

Sure, there's been promises from those in charge to help end violence against women. 10-year plans, funding injections, commitments. But so far, we're yet to reap any of the benefits for the women we're losing today and tomorrow and next week. We've marched. Protested. Pleaded. Parodied. Nothing has changed except some promises of futureproofing and some drop in the ocean funding that barely touches the edges.

Every year the stories are horrifically sad. Many are also devastatingly avoidable if only we had the resources and support to get these women out. If only AVOs worked and justice systems locked people away when they offended the first time.

Mother-of-two Janet Guthrie was allegedly killed by her boyfriend on February 16. Her alleged murderer is accused of entering her home uninvited, with police describing the scene they were called too as "confronting".

Hannah Pringle was stabbed to death in April. Two teenagers have been charged, one of them is her son.

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Emmerich Lasakar was beaten and stabbed in her home in April by her husband, in front of their two young daughters.

Janet Guthrie (top left), Hannah Pringle, (bottom left), Emmerich Lasakar (right). 

In April, four women were killed in 10 days in Australia with that record being broken in November — six women died in a week. Barely a word from our national leaders. Barely a word from anyone, aside from the usual handful of activists.

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Monique Lezsak's twins were present when she was murdered in May by her boyfriend. Her ten-year-old girl was found near her mum's body, injured.

In July, Gypsy Satterley died in a car crash on the Bruce Highway — that also claimed the lives of two others — while allegedly trying to flee a man she'd only recently started dating.

In July, Donald Morely allegedly admitted to police that he'd suffocated his 92-year-old wife, Jean.

Tayla Cox and her 11-week-old baby girl were stabbed to death in August, allegedly by her husband and the little girl's father.

Monique Lezsak (top L), Gypsy Satterley (bottom L), Jean Morely (bottom R), Tayla Cox (top R). 

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Lilie James' body was found in a Sydney school in October. Her ex, the man accused of killing her, took his own life after allegedly violently taking hers.

Julianne Egan was stabbed to death in November in the room next to her adult daughter who narrowly escaped an attack herself. Police charged a man the family hardly knew. 

Lillie James (main image), Julianne Egan (top L).

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Every single one of these stories should cause such national outrage that the cogs of society are ground to a halt until something drastic is changed to avoid it happening again. We did it for COVID, and yet this national disaster continues to destroy lives every week with little resistance.

For those reading this article ready to utter the words "what about men?" let us tell you this. Men being murdered is horrific too — but they are also being murdered by men. Women are statistically less likely to kill, and when they do it's so out of the ordinary it often makes front page news. But men's violence — particularly against women — has become normalised. Expected. 

Talking to Mamamia, Katherine Berney, the executive director of the National Women’s Safety Alliance shared that people often ask her, "the problem is so huge, how can I make a difference?"

Her advice is to start with believing.

When someone discloses they have been a victim of domestic, family and sexual violence — believe them.

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When you read media coverage where domestic, family and sexual violence cases are discussed — believe the survivor. 

"There is an inherent fear that 'someone could be lying'. Statistically, they aren't. Believing people is prevention," says Berney. 

National Community Attitudes towards violence against women has shown that while 91 per cent of Australians agree domestic, family and sexual violence is a major problem in Australia, 47 per cent of people believe it's not an issue for their community. 

We need to challenge that. We need to remove our own biases. We need to listen to women. How do we expect to raise the next generation to treat each other differently, if we don't believe those in our orbits are experiencing it? 

As we reflect on another year of murdered women and broken families and head into the Christmas season — a notoriously dangerous period for vulnerable women - we want to leave with you two practical things you can do to help.

You can donate to charities and organisations directly helping women like RizeUp Australia, Mamamia's charity partner. They help women and families move on after the devastation of domestic violence.

Or you could send an email to your local MP and let them know this is an issue you want prioritised. We've done you the favour of drafting the text below, you simply need to copy and paste.

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Nothing is changing, but we need to keep trying. We owe it to the women of Australia to never stop writing this story.

A letter to your MP:

Dear [insert local MP's name here],

As a member of your electorate I'd like to express my desire for more focus on addressing violence against women in our society in 2024.

In 2023 more than 59 women have been murdered, mostly by men, and that statistic has barely budged in more than a decade. In fact this year we're on track to lose more than we have in years. 

Women's safety needs to be a priority for our community. We need our leaders to be the ones helping to disrupt the status quo by making sure this endemic issue isn't forgotten. We need you to be our voice in parliament. 

Every week a woman is killed in Australia, and that's not good enough. Something needs to change. Please help us make change.

Thank you, 

[your name]. 

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.

A woman reports domestic or family violence every 2 minutes in Australia. Help her start again with RizeUp.   Donate here

Featured Image: Facebook.