'I'm an ex-police officer. I know why Australia has a problem with domestic violence.'

This story discusses domestic violence. 

When are we going to finally say, 'Enough?'

When are we going to see police taking accountability for their part in the domestic violence crisis in Australia

The recent alleged double murder of Luke Davies and Jesse Baird has brought this question to the forefront of many of these discussions. 

We need police to take domestic violence and stalking, which often go hand in hand, seriously. 

It shouldn’t be a matter of 'who you know' in order for something to be done. Every report should be taken seriously. 

I used to be oblivious to the seriousness and deadly outcomes of domestic violence, despite being the victim of domestic violence myself. 


Because as a police officer, all I was ever really shown was to be blase and dismissive. 

At 21, I was in a really damaging relationship which resulted in a lot of trauma. But what 21-year-old country girl really understands what 'domestic violence' is? Especially when you go to the police after having a glass thrown at your head in a nightclub and are told: "You have to go to the court yourself to get an intervention order, and they only do hearings on Wednesdays." 

Which left me thinking I must have been overreacting. 

Part of the domestic violence I experienced also included stalking. I was also a victim of a separate stalking when I was 23, which initially got dismissed by police - but was suddenly taken seriously when I joined the force.


This confirmed the unfortunate belief of 'it’s who you know' as to whether victims are actually listened to. 

I joined the police force when I was 23 and was faced with domestic violence cases almost daily, yet it was only when I left the police force to work as an Investigation & Risk Assessment Specialist at one of Australia’s largest Universities and then created my own business as a Transformation & Mindset Coach for women who have experienced trauma, that I realised just how badly our police let down victims of domestic violence and ignored the impact that has on them. 

Over one-third of homicides in Australia are Domestic Homicides, and the highest percentage of stalking is committed by previous partners. If police had better training, and saw domestic violence for what it is, rather than the standard tick and flick of filing paperwork, these numbers wouldn’t be so high. And don’t get me started on the court system and its failings. 

I still carry a lot of guilt for the victims I dismissed or downplayed while I was a police officer. When you’re in the police force, yes, you’re taught that domestic violence is important.

But, it is also the thing that as 'cops', you kind of dismiss as the annoying, pain in the ass, time-consuming work that requires too much paperwork and often what was considered 'pointless' days in court. 

No one wants to sit around at court all day applying for an intervention order on behalf of someone you don’t even know, especially when there are *real crooks* to be caught or paperwork to be done. This is why police almost always encourage victims to go through the confusing process of attending court and applying for an intervention order themselves, rather than supporting them and doing it for them.


One of the biggest failings here is that nearly every victim of domestic violence that needs an intervention order is being stalked by the offending person.

When I look at this now, it’s basically gaslighting victims. Police tell the victims that their concerns aren’t important enough for them to go to court on their behalf, but if they’re worried about it, then the option is there for them to go themselves. 

And stalking, yes it’s an indictable offence, but police aren’t educated enough about it to actually take action on it.

What happened to police advocating for victims? 

What happened to police being the go-to authority figures for people who need help and support? 

What happened to police making our communities safer and caring for the community?

I think most police genuinely care for a period of time, then it fades and becomes all too hard. Emotions dry up, caring dissipates and complacency sets in. They become desensitised.

If a victim (including their children) was physically injured or blatantly threatened, I was all over it, as were most police. But the less overt domestic violence was the more it was cast aside. 


Police aren’t taught about the courage it takes for a victim to come forward and disclose what they have been through, or that she likely hadn't even reported the half of what she'd been through.

Watch: Women And Violence: The Hidden Numbers. Post continues after podcast.

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That victims have trust issues because they are so fragile and scared of what might happen if the offender finds out; that they don't always trust the police. 

Police are taught the law. The facts. Evidence. What will stand up in court and what won’t. 

Police are shown the processes, what paperwork to fill out and which box to tick, mostly to cover their ass and comply with legislation. 

Police are taught what constitutes stalking. That’s where it ends. The psychological damage of stalking is immeasurable and because it can be so complex and nuanced, it’s dismissed and put in the too hard basket.  

I often laugh at the fact that I learnt more about stalking while working at a University than I did when I was in the police force. That’s messed up. When frontline police officers don’t understand one of the worst crimes and precursors for even more serious crimes, we are leaving victims high and dry. 


What police are NOT taught is the humanness to every victim. They’re not taught about having empathy. They’re not taught to care enough about victims or how to ask real, legitimate honest questions about how they are, how it has impacted them, and what it is that scares them. 

Some officers get it, but most don’t. They’re blissfully ignorant of the trauma and terror in the victims' lives as they drive off to the next job.

I remember taking on a really complex stalking case and a fellow officer saying to me, "Why would you bother with that? It’s too hard and it’s her own fault anyway." Once again proving that if something initially seems hard, or they don’t know what to do, some police will choose to do nothing. 

It’s no wonder that despite expressing his concerns to family and friends, Jesse Baird, didn’t report the alleged stalking and disturbing behaviour of his ex-boyfriend, a NSW Police Officer to police. Would they believe him or would they protect their own?

This is why we hear the names: Kelly Wilkinson, Christine Rakic, Lilie James and so many others on the news far too often. 

The most memorable incident (for all the wrong reasons) to me was when I was in the police force in 2014 and Rosie Batty’s ex-husband killed their son at cricket practice. Rosie did all the 'right' things, yet we let her down to the point that her son was murdered. It still breaks my heart to this day. 


Listen: Stop Defending Domestic Violence Killers. Post continues after podcast.

Since then, in my advocacy work, I have supported hundreds of victims as they shared their pain and their reality. I have linked them in with psychologists and other supports and encouraged them to report it to the police so they can get help, only to be turned away. 

There are so many stories and examples I could share, but a couple that stand out the most to me are: 

  • The victim reported to me that her husband was abusing and threatening her and their children. She wanted to leave but was trying to get a plan in place. I told her that if anything happened she needed to call the police. That weekend, her husband threw her against a wall and held a knife to her throat. He told her that if she left, he would kill their children. She stayed at home that night and went to the police station the next day, only to be told: "Well you can’t be too scared because you didn’t leave last night." 
  • The victim (a male) being stalked by his ex-partner, who was sending him gifts, flowers and letters to his work and at home. When he reported it was told: "You should be grateful someone is sending you things. That’s a nice thing to do. She obviously really loves you." 

Then there are the countless breaches of intervention orders that get ignored and avoided, being fobbed off and told to do it themselves or just not being heard. Not only are these breaches of intervention orders, it’s also stalking. Continuing a behaviour after being told not to, with the intention of causing harm or distress. 

It intrigues me that you can see someone charged with breaching an intervention order, but not stalking. They go hand in hand.

In some cases, the police do more work avoiding the work that comes with domestic violence matters than it would take them to actually do their job properly, and possibly save a life. 

So what do we do? 

We need to start listening! We have to start listening to people when they’re asking for help. 

Police need more training on what it is to be a human, and we need to advocate for more support services. We need to remove the stigma, blame or shame someone might be carrying with them, so they can give themselves permission to heal, rather than the good old 'just move on' mentality. 


I think we all have some work to do in this space, which is part of the reason I’m so passionate about what I do. There aren’t enough avenues for victims to be unconditionally supported to work through their trauma to reconnect and rediscover themselves in order to feel like they matter and are worthy of what they desire. 

We also need to stop protecting perpetrators, no matter who they are or how much of a 'good a bloke' they might be.

The one thing I am sure of is that the police in their current capacity after not going to help with this. 

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.

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a Queensland-based organisation that helps women and families move on after the devastation of domestic violence. If you would like to support their mission to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most, you can donate here. 

Feature Image: Canva.

This story was originally published in February 2024 and has since been updated with new information.