In February 2014, 11-year-old son Luke Batty was murdered by his father, Greg Anderson at cricket practice in Melbourne, Australia. It made worldwide news and society was shocked and appalled at the violent attack from a father towards a son.
His mum Rosie Batty became an advocate for female domestic violence victims and campaigner for making changes to government processes relating to the protection of women and children and she established the Luke Batty Foundation and Never Alone to assist women and children impacted by domestic violence. Her courage, strength and bad ass spirit helped her to become the 2015 Australian of the Year.
She speaks out at events and to the media about the horrific experience of losing her son and is a domestic violence campaigner. She uses her life to bring the conversation of domestic violence into the limelight and I think her selfless efforts are inspirational. She is using her pain from an experience that many couldn’t even imagine to make a positive difference to others. What a hero!
So why is Mark Latham, a former Prime Ministerial candidate trying to shame her into silence?
In his column for the Australian Financial Review, Mark Latham said of Rosie’s public speaking events;
“How did Batty immerse herself in such company, wheeled out at business functions to retell the story of her son’s murder in February 2014? There was a time, in the dignity of working class life, when grieving was conducted in private”.
How dare he!
What Rosie has done isn’t about a lack of dignity or respect to her son, the fact that this man feels he can silence a woman says more about him than her. Her decision to speak out and make a difference is saving lives.
With her words other woman may find the strength to ask for help, mothers may leave abusive partners for her children as well as herself, she is teaching society about the warning signs and is publicly telling the government that more support is needed.
But when Mark Latham comments saying that this is a ‘private issue’ and ‘undignified’ he is creating a conspiracy of shame and silence and putting lives at risk.
This story struck a chord with me as I write about illnesses and treatment that can be embarrassing and ‘impolite’ to discuss in public, I spend most of my life either writing or speaking about poo and have faced others who believe it is undignified and should be kept private. I never thought as a child that I would have a career in talking about poo, but this is where I am.
The experiences of Rosie Batty are incomparable, I am not putting losing a child in the same league as having an illness or surgeries, but the act of speaking out about something that others believe should stay private is similar. I write, I speak out, I do all this to make a difference and help others. I use my pain and suffering to reach out to those who are suffering and to break the taboo of embarrassing illnesses in the same way that Rosie uses her pain to help victims of domestic violence.
And so to see a fellow ‘sharer’ be shamed and silenced by a politician is just abhorrent.
When you go through a terrible experience, whether it be loss, illness or a life event that just knocks you for six, the shock and pain can make you feel so isolated. It can feel like your life is crumbling and everything has changed forever. How each person deals with that pain is personal and unique. Some will keep it private and deal with it quietly and on their own, others may access the support of a wider circle and some may choose to use the experience to make a difference.
There is no right way and people like Mark Latham don’t have the right to judge, shame and silence.
That judgement isn’t just affecting one person, the ripples spread so much further and you can hurt so many more. Encouraging a culture of silence affects vulnerable people who need support and cements the shame and embarrassment into a person’s mind. I strongly and passionately believe that we should not fear speaking out about issues that are uncomfortable.
It takes courage to write or speak about things that are not socially acceptable or polite to discuss in public. No matter how confident I may seem, every time I hit ‘post’, I fear the response I may get. I worry that it will change the way people see me, I worry people will laugh at me or judge me. But I keep doing it because I know I am helping, I know I am making a difference.
Rosie Batty is a true hero. She is doing something amazing and helping so many when I am sure there are times when it is the last thing she wants. I am sure she would give it all up in a second to have her boy back. I am sure she is privately grieving and dealing with this in a personal way. Her public persona and work doesn’t hinder her private grief. She is amazing.
Please share this post and support Rosie using the hashtag #IStandWithRosie on Twitter.