Rosie Batty, mother of murdered child Luke Batty, slammed Studio 10 host Joe Hildebrand this morning on live television for comments she found deeply distressing.
The panel, which includes Hildebrand, Jessica Rowe, Ita Buttrose, and Sarah Harris, were discussing changes to Victorian law that could make it a crime not to report child abuse.
This is how Hildebrand opened the discussion: “Obviously you can’t help but feel a huge amount of sympathy for anyone who’s in an abusive relationship but … you have to get out, you absolutely have to get out. There are huge economic costs associated with that, yes there are often other things, but anything is better than staying in an abusive relationship. Frankly, to say that you’re going to not report a case of child abuse or child sex abuse by your partner because you are scared for your own safety, I’m sorry, it is not an excuse.”
By the time cameras crossed to Ms Batty, she was visibly distressed. “Joe, your comments are so, so misguided,” she said. “If you minimise how it feels to feel unsafe, and when we’re talking about unsafe, we’re talking about the risk to our lives, we’re talking about when women finally may decide to leave their partners they have the most risks.”
Watching this grieving mother in utter despair on camera is deeply uncomfortable. Please be warned, this may be distressing to some viewers.
You can watch the full interview here, which aired on Network Ten this morning.
Ms Batty’s reaction to Hildebrand’s comments continued like this: “I am absolutely outraged. I was living in hope that because of Luke’s tragic death it would bring a huge awareness to family violence. This is beyond my comprehension how, again, the woman who is the victim is punished.”
She then divulged further detail about what her estranged, violent husband Greg was like before he was shot by police earlier this year. We all remember the devastating case, where Ms Batty’s husband stabbed his son to death at cricket practice one afternoon.
Ms Batty spoke eloquently about that day, though she was distraught: “Do you know what happened to me?” she asked. “Greg had finally lost control of me and the final act of control, which was the most hideous form of violence, was to kill my son. So don’t you ever think that if we don’t report it’s because we don’t want to. It’s because we are so scared about what might happen.”
And then she came back to her criticism of Hildebrand: “Joe needs to look at his views as a man and he needs to step up and get informed. Because when I hear comments like that I am so saddened that the focus is still on the woman. Where the hell is the perpetrator? Why isn’t he being jailed for three years?”
At this stage, Hildebrand responds calmly, clarifying exactly what these new laws may mean.
“The intention of the law is not to punish women, Rosie,” he said. “The intention of the law is to make the protection of the child an absolute priority and to prevent that child from being exposed to sex abuse of further sex abuse or further abuse …”
But Ms Batty interjected with the simple, devastating question: “Joe, where do you go to be protected 24 hours a day, seven days a week?”