‘My sister was murdered by her husband’

VANESSA Fowler knows first-hand that domestic violence is more than just bruises and black eyes.

Even the most secretive abuse can have fatal, and disastrous consequences.

When her younger sister Allison Baden-Clay was murdered by her husband in 2012, Ms Fowler and her family were thrust into the world of domestic violence advocacy.

Wanting to turn their anger and grief into something positive and productive, they began the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation.

Ms Fowler has since become the chair and co-director of the foundation, which aims to create primary prevention programs to stop domestic violence at the root of the cause.

This desire to make a difference, and end the domestic violence epidemic, came from a lack of knowledge about the different facets of family abuse, especially the kind Allison was facing in her personal life.

“As a family, we feel that we didn’t know what was happening at the time, and we didn’t know much about domestic violence,” she said.

“We thought it was physical and we were looking for black eyes and broken bones, however we’ve learnt that it’s much more than that.

“We now understand and can see the red flags that are out there.

“If we’d have known that early on, things may have been different for Allison.

“Certainly as a family we’ve learnt a lot.”

Speaking at the International Women’s Day event in Dalby this month, Ms Fowler told the crowd Allison’s husband, who is currently serving a life sentence in prison for the murder, would tell Allison she looked fat to stop her from leaving the house, and forced her to be a stay-at-home mum after their three daughters were born.

Allison’s body was found in the Kholo Creek in Brisbane in 2012, and her husband was later arrested and charged.

Ms Fowler attributed one of the main causes of domestic violence is a lack of gender equality, and strives to improve that every day.

But domestic violence was as big of an issue in 2012 as it is now, and Ms Fowler said more changes need to be made.

“I think it’s a major problem at the moment,” she said.

“Women die at the hands of their partner or former partner once a week, and my sister was one of them, but that’s far too many.

“We can’t just leave it to a DV agency, and we can’t just leave it to the federal or state governments. We all have to take a part and take a role in stamping out domestic violence in the community.”

To keep Allison’s legacy alive, the foundation created Strive to Be Kind Day, which will happen on the last day of July.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, do not hesitate to make contact with a professional, and seek help:

DV Connect Womensline: 1800 811 811

DV Connect Mensline: 1800 600 636

1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732

Sexual Assault Helpline: 1800 010 120

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Domestic Violence Action Centre: 4642 1354

Sexual Assault Support Service (Toowoomba): 4616 6950

Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service: 1800 88 77 00

Dalby Crisis Support Association: 4669 8499

Domestic Violence Regional Service (South West): 4639 3605

Working Against Abuse Service (Roma, St George and Mitchell Courts): 4622 5230

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