true crime

10 years ago, Adriana Donato was murdered by her ex boyfriend. He'd been planning it for weeks.

Content warning: this story includes descriptions of domestic violence that may be distressing to some readers.

On this day 10 years ago, Adriana Donato was murdered. She was 20 years old, the world at her feet, and killed by a man who supposedly loved her. I feel a type of grief for Adriana, a young woman I have never met but who has been shared very generously with me.

As a victim-survivor of intimate partner violence, I grieve for the person I was before experiencing this abuse, but I also know I am on a healing journey. Unfortunately, Adriana was not only subjected to a controlling relationship but also robbed of any opportunity to recover from it.

Watch: Coercive control is a deliberate pattern of abuse. Story continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Adriana's mother Grace Donato and I met in 2019, crossing paths through our shared goal to eliminate violence against women. Over recent years, Australia has witnessed the rise of survivor voices who have overcome adversity and fought for change, demanding to be heard. But Grace occupies a different space. She speaks for those who have been permanently silenced, including her daughter. I am inspired by Grace, a mother whose love for her daughter is evidenced in her dedicated work in creating a future where everyone can be safe and respected.


Through Grace, I have come to know some things about Adriana. She was a beautiful, kind, joyful young woman. A high achiever, her determination for personal success matched with a fierce commitment for social change centred around environmental activism. But, unfortunately, I know other sadder things about Adriana's life. Things we must not just remember but take action on.

Adriana's family fought for a coronial inquest that exposed systemic and community failures in her murder. Unfortunately, an act of entitlement by an angry ex-boyfriend cost Adriana her life. The guilt for Adriana's murder lies squarely at the feet of her perpetrator, a man she loved and spent years in a relationship with but who refused to let her be free. However, what the inquest into Adriana's murder showed was that there were many people whose inaction enabled this horrific act of violence. Despite Adriana's ex-boyfriend telling his friends of his plans to harm her, even showing them a knife, no one warned her or stood up to him.

We will not have prevention without accountability. There must be adequate consequences for those who choose to abuse and harm women. However, our society's public disregard for women facilitates perpetrators privately abusing their victims, and for that, we are all accountable. Through inaction, we become enablers; we all have a role in preventing violence against women.

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It has been 10 years since Adriana's murder, and still, on average, every nine days, another woman is murdered at the hands of a current or former partner in Australia. We continue to see the rise of a toxic masculine culture that translates vulnerability into weakness. 

I want to see a shift in men's commitment to change. Violence against women must be addressed and actioned by men.

Adriana's anniversary is a moment when her family and friends will remember her and the impact she had on their lives.

For those of us who have come to know Adriana through her mother's advocacy, today is a day we give thanks for Grace's bravery and dedicated advocacy.

And for all of us, today is a day we recommit ourselves to a fight for gender equality and a society that upholds the value of all women.  

We will not achieve a future where everyone is safe and free unless we all acknowledge and act on our role in changing attitudes and behaviours that lead to violence against women.

Image: Supplied


Adriana will remain forever etched in my heart, a constant reminder of why we continue to fight.

Rest in power, Adriana.

With the blessing of Adriana's family, we are raising funds together in Adriana's memory to support White Ribbon's crucial work. All donations go directly to White Ribbon and will support their primary prevention work to create a future free from violence.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Feature Image: Supplied.