In September 2015, after spending 12 months reporting on domestic violence in Australia, journalist Sherele Moody started the Red Heart campaign.
Using the red heart as “a symbol of strength, hope and survival,” Moody wanted to give those who had experienced domestic violence a voice, and ultimately increase the understanding of intimate partner violence, domestic violence, and familial child abuse in Australia.
On Thursday, the Red Heart campaign released a haunting image – a map of Australia, marked with a sea of tiny, red hearts.
Each heart, Moody explained, represents a woman or child lost to domestic violence. The online memorial, named the Australian Femicide Map, is interactive, and when users click on an individual heart, they will find the name, photo and story of a real person who lost their life to violence.
At present, there are more than 1000 victims commemorated on the map.
“We have chosen to give no start or end date for this ongoing collection of photographs and stories,” the Red Heart campaign states.
“This gallery is the only one of its type in Australia and exists to honour and remember those who deserved to live long and happy lives but were never given the chance.”
When I first click on the map, I’m met with a photo of a woman named Vanessa Joy O’Brien, who lived in Queensland. On July 8, 1985, Vanessa went to collect the rings for her upcoming wedding, when she was forced at knife-point into a man’s car. She was raped and murdered by that man, because “he felt like killing a woman”.
The next time I click, I see three faces I immediately recognise. Those of Michelle Petersen, her 15-year-old daughter Bella, and eight-year-old son Rua, who were murdered earlier this week in Perth.
It’s a stark reminder of one of the sad constants of Australian life – the epidemic of violence against women and children.
An epidemic we can no longer look away from.
You can read more about the Red Heart campaign here.