In the wake of the brutal murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children at the hands of the man who was supposed to love them most, we have decided to revisit this brilliant and powerful essay written by the partner of another victim. Tom Meagher was married to Jill Meagher who was murdered by serial rapist Adrian Bailey in Melbourne in 2012. Tom wrote this for White Ribbon 18 months after his wife was killed, and the sentiment still rings true today. Tom reminds us not to see the perpetrators of violence against women as monsters – but friends, acquaintances, husbands, lovers, brothers and fathers. Who are indeed capable of the worst of human acts.
Trigger Warning: This post deals with issues of sexual assault and domestic violence and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.
One of the most disturbing moments of the past eighteen months of my life was hearing my wife’s killer form a coherent sentence in court.
Jill had been murdered almost six months earlier, and Adrian Bayley’s defence team were presenting a rather feeble case for a four-week adjournment of his committal hearing. Bayley appeared via video-link as I sat flanked by two friends and a detective. The screen was to my right, mounted high up and tilted slightly towards the bench. It was uncomfortably silent apart from the occasional paper shuffle or short flurry of keyboard clicks. I anticipated, and prepared for the most difficult moment of the day when Bayley’s face appeared on the big-screen TV, looming over the seat I then occupied. When that moment arrived, a jolt of nausea came and went, but the worst was to come, made all the more horrifying because it was unexpected.