This post deals with domestic abuse and might be triggering for some readers.
Hannah Clarke suffered years of domestic abuse before she was doused in petrol and killed by her estranged husband.
Before her murder, Rowan Baxter didn’t physically abuse Hannah. There were no bruised ribs or broken bones. Instead, the Brisbane mother was the victim of coercive control. The abuse culminated in Baxter setting alight his family on a Wednesday morning in February. He killed his estranged wife and their kids, before taking his own life.
It was a family homicide so monstrous that many months on, Australia remembers the intimate details of the tragedy. The family photos on the beach. The smiling children. The fact that Hannah was able to tell first-responders what happened, before succumbing to her burns.
Hayley Foster, the CEO of Women’s Safety NSW, says it’s common for abusers to not use physical violence as their method of exerting control.
“Those abusers that are very astute with how they perpetrate abuse will be very careful not to use physical violence, because obviously it's an offense - whereas the other behaviours are not.”
The “other behaviours” are known as coercive control.