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Attention Malcolm Turnbull: It’s time to put victims of domestic violence in control

Too many women are dying at the hands of violent partners walking free. Enough is enough.

Warning: this post deals with domestic violence and may be triggering for some readers

Please sign Take 5 magazine’s petition to strengthen Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs).

Because we think a piece of paper is not enough to keep domestic violence victims safe.

Tragically, on average one Aussie woman dies every week at the hands of a partner or an ex. What makes this statistic more sickening is that almost a quarter of these victims had already taken out an AVO against their murderer.

These women did everything they could to protect themselves but the system let them down.

More needs to be done. And that’s why we’re calling for your help to sign our petition.

We want to give back the power to victims so if they know their abusers are nearby, they can make decisions about their own safety, instead of relying on authorities to dictate what’s best for them.

GPS tracking units that send notifications to victims of their abuser’s whereabouts are effective and have saved lives.

In Spain, 800 couples received a device no bigger than a smartphone to keep with them at all times.

This system was trialled over a 10-year period, and in that time, Spain’s high rate of domestic violence deaths dropped.

Here’s how it works…

1. The offender has a tamper-proof GPS anklet that the court has ordered them to wear at all times.

2. If the abuser comes within the exclusion zone of their victim, both the victim and police receive a message.

3. Once the woman receives the alert, she is able to take action in whichever way she likes.

4. The authorities are able to intervene as they see fit.

A GPS tracker could save vulnerable women’s lives.

Could these women have been saved?

Victoria Comrie Cullen

Victoria was suffering abuse and public humiliation when police took out an apprehended violence order protecting her from her husband, Christopher Cullen. But within three months of the order, Christopher forced Victoria into the boot of his car, stabbed her, then slit her throat.

Teresa Bradford

Teresa’s estranged husband, David, was imprisoned for domestic violence. But despite police opposition, a magistrate released David on bail just six weeks later, causing Teresa to live in fear that he’d track her down. She was in the process of relocating to get away from David, when he broke into the home and stabbed her to death, while their four children ran for help. He killed himself soon after.

Tara Costigan

Tara was killed by her ex-partner Marcus Rappel with an axe while she held their baby. She’d taken out an interim DVO against him just the day before. Rappel joked: “I did say I’d kill the next girl who took out an AVO against me.”

“A piece of paper wasn’t going to stop him.”

Kay Schubach, 53, from Sydney, tells Take 5 about her experience with an ineffective AVO and why she supports the petition.

“Every noise in my motel room made me jump. I’d just taken out an AVO against my ex, Simon, but I didn’t feel safe. His desire to hurt me was too powerful.

The first time I got an AVO against him, I came home to find him in our apartment. And he knew exactly what I’d done.

He calmly wrote my parents’ address on a piece of paper.

It sent a chill down my spine. I’d never told him where my parents lived.

Shaking, I called police and retracted my statement.

Simon Monteiro, who was then known as Simon Lowe, had been so different when I first met him.

He was charming and funny. I’d never connected with someone so deeply.

We soon moved in together, but I eventually discovered a cutting side to his personality.

“You’ve passed your use-by date,” he’d criticise. “Stick with me because no-one else will even look at you!”

I blamed myself every time.

He started going through my phone, deleting numbers and then his control turned physical. He often pushed me around, and one night in the car, he cracked.

“You’re always staring at men!” he roared.

He wrapped his fist in his jacket so he wouldn’t leave a mark, and then punched the side of my head.

I was so shocked. I wanted to go to the hospital but he drove me home, where he turned on the charm, filling a bath full of rose petals.

“You have to get out!” my friends pleaded when I told them what happened.

Simon was dubbed the ‘playboy rapist’ by the media.

But trying to break out of Simon’s control made me more vulnerable.

He was furious when he found out about the AVO.

Police came with me to pack up my things and book into a motel. I found out later that Simon was circling the block, like a shark circling his prey, waiting for police to leave before he could attack me.

My spirit was crushed. I couldn’t take any more.

Petrified, I dropped the AVO and escaped by moving overseas. Finally, I could stop looking over my shoulder.

Six years later, I discovered Simon had been given a 12-year prison sentence for raping and abusing another woman years before.

It was a relief to know he was behind bars.

Returning to Australia, I started campaigning for domestic violence victims.

Women in these situations often have decisions made for them. But we need to take charge of our safety.

When I heard about the GPS trackers that notify victims if their abusers are close, I wanted to do all I could to help bring them to Australia.

I fully support GPS anklets for offenders who have an AVO out on them, or as part of parole.

Now I’m an ambassador for Domestic Violence NSW, and I’ve used my profile to help raise awareness of this system.

We need to show the government how strongly we feel. And Take 5’s petition is a great way to voice your support that these trackers should be in place all across Australia.

Far too many women have died at the hands of their abusers. Enough is enough.”

Get involved – Please sign our petition

We are calling on the government to implement a national GPS program that can empower women by sending alerts to domestic violence survivors whenever their abuser comes within an specific radius.

This needs to be rolled out for all high-risk offenders for sentencing, bail and parole, and all victims need the option to receive this device.

Too many women are living in fear. Too many kids are growing up without their mums because of these violent men.

It’s time to take action!

If you agree, sign our petition to force the government to do more to protect victims of domestic violence and give them the power to protect themselves.

If you or someone you know could be at risk, call the national domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT.

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