Lisa Harnum knew she was going to die.
Prior to her death, she had made a final, desperate phone call home. She pleaded with her mother to come and get her, to save her from what had become nothing less than a living hell. Before ending her conversation, Lisa Harnum said to her mum “remember that I love you…. if anything happens.”
Yesterday a court found Lisa’s former boyfriend Simon Gittany guilty of her murder. The court accepted the Crown’s version of events, that the young and beautiful ballerina had been in a long term emotionally abusive relationship that culminated in her death.
One witness described hearing Lisa’s cries from her apartment, “Help me, God help me” she yelled out.
69 seconds later Lisa’s dead body was lying on the pavement, having been thrown over the balcony railing.
>Australia has become all-consumed with this case; the attractive couple at the centre, just enough intrigue to keep the public guessing about the verdict, the sideshow of Gittany’s new girlfriend standing by his side… the tears, the grief, the horrific and brutal descriptions of how Lisa Harnum died.
It’s the stuff of gripping, shocking, unbelievable television news.
But here’s the thing. What happened to Lisa Harnum is not unusual.
On average, a woman is killed by her partner (or a former partner) every week in this country. The most common cause of preventable death amongst women aged 15-44? Is the person they love. The person they (at some stage at least) trusted above and beyond everyone else in the world. The person who they came to depend on, to care for, to make love to.
And despite the white ribbons we casually swap our $2 for, despite the brave marches on our streets in a bid to reclaim them as safe for women to walk, despite the vigils to remember those we have lost… this just keeps happening.
Australian women are being subject to emotional, physical, financial and sexual abuse each and every day. And in the overwhelming majority of those instances, the violence is being perpetrated by someone who claims to love her.