By Carolyn Harris Johnson
Examines the tragic crime of familicide, the homicide suicide of youngsters and a father or mother within the context of a dispute over custody or entry. The trauma of this offence reverberates throughout the households, groups and throughout generations, inflicting psychological and actual disease and social dysfunction.
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Extra info for Come with daddy : child murder-suicide after family breakdown
The Family Court records had minimal information pertaining to the history of violence in some cases, and no record of it at all in others. This is consistent with the findings of Hore, Gibson and Bordow (1996) in their research on the Family Court of Australia. It is clear from my study that decision-makers in community agencies such as the police and the courts had insufficient documented information about previous threats to harm, and the history of actual violence. In part this may have been a result of under-reporting of domestic violence by respondents, but violence was generally underrecognised by the agencies even when there were clear signs it existed.
THE PEOPLE • Women in this study under-reported their partner’s violence towards themselves and their children to the Family Court, and the effect on children who witnessed violence was also under-reported or minimised. Where information was provided, the authorities gave it insufficient weight and did not see it in its full context. This is a common occurrence at all levels of society, where ‘the crime figures greatly under-estimate the extent of domestic violence, as it is the most underreported crime in our society, and even when it is reported, it frequently remains un-documented’ (Women’s Coalition Against Family Violence 1994: 2).
For instance, when my nanna came to stay, supposedly for a week, she only stayed one day because he made her cry, he purposely fought with her to make her leave. Thus over a period of time she became more and more isolated from her family as a result of his behaviour. Tom also reportedly had a locked 39 40 • COME WITH DADDY study, equipped with a steel door, in the couple’s home. Clare was never allowed access to this room and he kept the key with him at all times, even when asleep. Compounding the problems of violence and control that the women experienced, there were reports of obsessive and irrational jealousy.