‘Because it works. I feel like a man when I’m hurting people.’
These are just some of the reasons men say they hurt the women they love the most, as chilling statistics reveal a deepening national crisis in Australia.
Five women are killed in domestic homicide incidents every ten days, with seven women allegedly murdered by former or current partners in October alone.
So far this year, forty-three women have died in acts of violence, with their deaths a heavy reminder that domestic violence does not discriminate.
These include Sydney woman Lilie James 21, was bashed to death by a former partner after she ended their brief five-week relationship last Wednesday.
Paul Thijssen, 24, is believed to have used a hammer to kill Ms James in the gym bathroom at St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney’s CBD.
Several hours later, Thijssen phoned police to confess before plunging to his death from the cliffs above Diamond Bay in Vaucluse in the eastern suburbs.
On Sunday night, mother-of-four Logee Osias, 46, was allegedly stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend, 44, in her home in Bendigo in Victoria.
Two of her children, a six-year-old and nine-year-old girl, were inside the Kangaroo Flat home during the alleged attack – with one calling triple zero.
Police arrested Ms Osias’s ex-boyfriend, who remains in hospital under police guard, after he was found in a reservoir near the home.
Less than 24 hours later, the body of family law barrister Alice McShera, 34, was found at Crown Towers Perth, Burswood, on Monday.
Her partner Cameron John Pearson, 42, was found in the same luxury hotel room on Monday morning and charged with Ms McShera’s murder.
Sydney University Professor Susan Heward-Belle, a recognised leader in domestic and family violence research, said it boiled down to men feeling entitled to use controlling and coercive behaviours with their intimate partners.
She spoke to a series of perpetrators of domestic violence that had been mandated to attend an anger management program.
It was in these interviews that she heard a series of chilling justifications for violence against women – that ‘it works’ and made men feel in control.
Lilie James, 21, (pictured) was bashed to death by her former partner Paul Thijssen, 24, in a bathroom at St Andrew’s Cathedral School, Sydney, after she ended their brief relationship
Mother-of-four Logee Osias, 46, was allegedly stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend in her home near Bendigo in rural Victoria on Sunday night (pictured with two of her children)
Hannah Clarke (pictured) and her children Aaliyah (left), Laianah (right)and Trey (middle) were doused in petrol by her estranged husband before being burned alive in February 2020
Prof Herward-Belle said men who benefited from a climate of fear and manipulation often found it hard to manage ‘big emotions’ when it came to their relationship.
In extreme cases of domestic homicide, men are exerting one final act of control by ending the life of their current or former partner and sometimes even their children.
Brisbane woman Hannah Clarke and her three children, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey, were killed by her ex-husband in a quadruple murder-suicide in February 2020.
Rowan Baxter doused Hannah and their children in petrol and set them alight in their family car before stabbing himself in the chest in a premeditated attack.
The final act of violence came after Baxter became increasingly paranoid and suspicious about his estranged wife, with an inquest told the gym junkie was a hot head who spoke down to Hannah and expected sex every day.
‘Just because someone breaks up with you, that does not mean you are authorised to kill them,’ Prof Heward-Belle told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Men have to learn there’s healthy ways of being a man. Toxic masculinity where men need to act tough seems to be a popular way to perform masculinity in Australia.’
She said when a former or current partner killed women they had usually been subjected to ‘relentless’ domestic and family violence before their deaths.
‘It’s not always that men lash out in a fit of rage. It’s just one part of an extreme set of behaviours designed to exert power and control,’ Prof Heward-Belle said.
‘Women who live with violence can be at a higher risk when they assert themselves and want to leave and end the relationship.
‘Men think ‘how dare you hurt me, how dare you leave me’.’
Hannah Baxter, 31, and her children Aaliyah, 6, Lainah, 4, and Trey, 3, died after they were doused in petrol and set alight in Brisbane in February. Pictured is the burnt out car
Paul Thijssen, 24, is believed to have used a hammer to kill Ms James, 21, in the gym bathroom at St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney’s CBD
The NSW Government this week announced that the Women’s Safety Commissioner would become a stand-alone role, making NSW the first state in Australia to have a stand-alone commissioner dedicated to addressing violence against women.
Dr Tonkin told Daily Mail Australia she was ‘devastated’ by the rising number of women killed in domestic violence incidents in the past two weeks.
In her role as commissioner, she will focus efforts on primary prevention and early intervention of violence as well as amplifying the voices of victims.
Pictured: Dr Hannah Tonkin, NSW Women’s Safety Commissioner
‘Primary prevention is about stopping domestic violence before it occurs and investing in education and awareness raising,’ Dr Tonkin said.
‘It’s also about promoting respectful relationships and giving children age-appropriate education about respectful behaviour.’
Early intervention is about identifying those at risk of experiencing or perpetuating violence and intervening early to provide support and change their trajectory, Dr Tonkin said.
She said men held a key role in their communities in helping address disrespectful behaviour towards women and being good role models.
‘They can call out sexist remarks, model and talk about how to have respectful relationships with women and promote gender equality,’ she said.
A troubling report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) found that almost a third of 18 and 19-year-olds had experienced emotional abuse, physical violence or sexual abuse from a partner in the previous year.
‘It’s really important that we talk about these issues with young people and teenagers,’ Dr Tonkin said.
‘We need to talk about what is a healthy and respectful relationships so they have the language to discuss these issues and know when to get help.’
The body of 34-year-old family law barrister Alice Rose McShera (pictured) was found at Crown Towers Perth , in Burswood, on Monday morning
Ms McShera’s partner Cameron John Pearson, 42, was found in the same luxury hotel room on Monday morning and charged with her murder
Melissa Perry, CEO of White Ribbon Australia, has called on Australians to wake up to the reality of a deepening national crisis.
‘As a society we cannot be so numbed and desensitised that we view family and domestic violence and the resulting deaths as just another statistic,’ she said.
‘The time for silence and indifference has passed.’
Ms Perry said men could be powerful advocates for change in their communities and needed to call out those who expressed harmful opinions about women.
‘We urge all Australians, particularly men, to educate themselves about the realities of domestic violence, challenge harmful attitudes and beliefs when they see them, and speak out against violence in all its forms,’ she said.
The CEO said the domestic violence and abuse sector needed greater investment to educate people consent and dispel outdated male attitudes and beliefs.
Melissa Perry, CEO of White Ribbon Australia
‘This includes primary prevention strategies and education campaigns to stop violence before it starts, behaviour change programs for men who have chosen to use violence, and victim-survivor support services,’ she said.
‘Right now we need to take action; we need men to actively participate in creating a society where women can live free from violence, with support from all levels of government to make this ambition a reality.’
Delia Donovan, CEO of Domestic Violence NSW, said the loss of seven women in October alone was a heavy reminder that domestic violence does not discriminate.
‘It is present in our cities, in our rural communities, in our schools and our homes. It is present between children and parents, husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend. Young and old – no one is immune,’ she said.
Ms Donovan said funding for family and domestic violence had fallen short of what is necessary to prevent and respond to incidents across the state.
Domestic Violence NSW petitioned the state government for a $176.35million increase to funding but that only $39.1million was allocated.
‘If we want to see a change in the number of people killed – we need to see a change in the number invested by our governments,’ she said.
‘We need to see commitment and action. These statistics are real people and it will take real investment to support real solutions. These deaths are preventable.’
Two of Ms Osias’s children, a six-year-old and a nine-year-old girl, were inside the Kangaroo Flat home during the alleged attack – with one calling triple zero for help.
Logee Osias, 46, was found unresponsive at her home in Kangaroo Flat, near Bendigo in Victoria, just before midnight on Sunday. Two of her children, a six-year-old and a nine-year-old girl (pictured), were inside the home during the alleged attack, with one calling triple zero
One in five women has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare from 2021-22.
One in six women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by a man since the age of 15, while one in four women has experienced emotional abuse by a current or previous partner since the age of 15.
A National Community Attitudes Survey conducted in 2021 found that 25 per cent of respondents believed that women who did not leave their abusive partners were partly responsible for violence continuing.
Up to 34 per cent agreed it was common for sexual assault accusations to be used as a way of getting back at men, while 23 per cent believed domestic violence is a normal reaction to day-to-day stress.
The survey found that 19 per cent of respondents agreed that sometimes a woman can make a man so angry he hits her without meaning to while 15 per cent agreed that there is no harm in sexist jokes.
Additionally, up to 41 per cent of respondents agreed that many women misinterpret innocent remarks as sexist.
It comes as the NSW government prepares to train judges, lawyers and police officers on new coercive control laws due to come into effect in July 2024.
Coercive control – when a person uses abusive behaviours towards a current or former intimate partner with the intention to control them – will be considered a stand-alone criminal offence with a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.
Jamie James (pictured with his family) received a text message from his daughter Lilie’s phone after she was killed by her ex-boyfriend
Parents and teachers are seen laying flowers in tribute to Lilie James at the entrance to St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney’s CBD on Monday
The 12 signs of coercive control
1. Isolating you from your support system. An abusive partner will cut you off from friends and family, or limit your contact with them so you don’t receive the support you need.
2. Monitoring your activity throughout the day.
3. Denying you freedom and autonomy. A person exerting coercive control may try to limit your freedom and independence. For example, not allowing you to go to work or school, restricting your access to transportation, stalking your every move when you’re out, taking your phone and changing passwords, etc.
4. Gaslighting, where the abuser makes you doubt your own truth, experience and sanity, by insisting that they are always right, and instils their narrative of a situation, even if the evidence points against this. Gaslighting in essence, is based on lies and manipulation of the truth.
5. Name-calling and severe criticism, as well as malicious put-downs which are all extreme forms of bullying.
6.Limiting access to money and controlling finances. This is a way of restricting your freedom and ability to leave the relationship. Financial abuse is listed above as a specific form of abuse but, within the context of coercive control, financial control is a tactic to keep a person disempowered, by utilising strategies such as:
- [lacing you on a strict budget that barely covers the essentials such as food or clothes
- limiting your access to bank accounts
- hiding financial resources from you
- preventing you from having a credit card
- rigorously monitoring what you spend.
7. Coercing you, to take care of all the domestic duties such as cleaning, cooking and childcare without sharing the responsibility and tasks involved to undertake these duties.
8. Turning your children against you. If you have children either with the abuser or someone else, they may try to weaponise the children against you by making comments that are critical of you, belittling you in front of the children, or telling them that you’re a bad parent. Sometimes the techniques are very subtle and insidious, involving slow drip-feeding of a narrative that regards you as abnormal.
9. Controlling aspects of your health and your body. The abuser will monitor and control how much you eat, sleep, exercise, or how much time you spend in the bathroom. They may also control where you go for medical help, and the medications you take.
10. Making jealous accusations about the time you spend with family or friends, either in person or online, as a way of phasing out all your contact with the external world, except for them.
11. Regulating your sexual relationship, for example making demands about the amount of times you engage in sex each day or week, and the kinds of activities you perform.
12. Threatening your children or pets as an extreme form of intimidation. When physical, emotional, or financial threats do not work for the abuser as desired, they may make threats against others such as your loved ones, children and pets, who are also beloved members of the household.
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Lifeline 13 11 14