Updated: Jul 1, 2021
By Cathy Oddie
Eurydice Dixon, Jill Meagher and Tracy Connelly,
Not just victims of the toxic patriarchy,
But sisters, daughters, friends and colleagues just like you and me.
Qi Yu, Dr Preethi Reddy and Aiia Maarsawe,
The loss of each of you impacts on me so heavily.
Walking home along the streets of Brunswick, I feel your presence so strongly,
As I wrap your collective strength and courage around me,
Which in the darkness feels like a protective cloak.
The anxiety I feel as footsteps quicken behind me is no joke,
With my keys twisted through my fingers and my heart pounding in my chest,
Keeping a façade of calm as the suited man passes by is the ultimate test.
I unlock my front door and memories flood through my mind of all the assaults I have endured here,
Tears fall for all the women and children whose lives have been ended by men they love, but have learned to fear.
Where are the candlelight vigils and marches for what these brave souls have endured?
Or is family violence unfortunately something to which society remains inured?
The monster myth of the stalking predator waiting to attack us in the dark is so deeply ingrained in us all,
This collective cognitive dissonance makes us diminish the risk women face when at home in a perpetrator’s thrall.
The lived experience of so many gets lost in the sensationalism of the young, attractive white-anglo few,
Disabled, elderly, immigrant, indigenous and gender diverse voices being ‘othered’ is nothing new.
When I hear
how Natalina Angok’s body has been discarded on a street in Chinatown like yesterday’s trash,
It breaks my heart to know that yet another woman’s life has been ended in a flash.
By a violent partner, whose mental health issues don’t excuse his violent act,
However, yet again the media uses language which minimizes his responsibility, which is the ultimate lack of tact.
When I see MRAs defacing the memorial of Eurydice,
Or in online debates are derailing conversations, harassing and abusing me,
I think “Who are you to lecture me from your place of vile misogyny,
When you and our legal systems make a mockery of women’s basic right to safety?”
Whilst I stand strong in my family violence advocacy,
I feel deflated by the victim-blaming we hear repeatedly.
We bear the costs of these violent acts on our minds, bodies, communities and financially, The feminist rises up in me, And I am so angry that you feel that you have the right to tell me, What to wear and where to be, when all I want is all women to feel safety, In their homes, or in their communities to be rape-, murder- and abuse-free!
So as we embrace each other in candle-lit sadness and a hauntingly beautiful chorus of Hallelujah fills Princes Park,
We must remember the lives of all women and children who are feeling alone somewhere in the dark.
And as a flower-filled tram winds its way north through the suburbs in memory of a life ended too soon,
Let’s come together as a united voice for change on an issue to which no one is immune.