What has Rosie Batty done to deserve Mark Latham’s outpouring of bile?
Rosie Batty probably never expected to become such a prominent face of anti-violence activism in Australia. I think it’s fair to say it’s not the life anyone would choose for themselves, particularly considering the circumstances that led to it. But for the last four years, she has been a tireless force to be reckoned with.
In 2014, Batty’s ex-husband bludgeoned and stabbed their son Luke to death as the 11 year-old attended cricket practice. Greg Anderson died later in hospital from a combination of police gunshots and self inflicted stab wounds. Last week, Batty announced that she would be stepping down from the foundation she established in Luke’s name. As she told Fairfax Media, “It is unrelenting and overwhelming what still needs to change. There is only so much one person is able to do – governments need to do so much more. It will take generations before we see significant change. This prospect alone exhausts me.”
Batty’s relationship with Anderson was characterised by violence, but it ended when he physically assaulted her shortly after giving birth to Luke. Over the years, Batty allowed Anderson to maintain a relationship with their son despite having sought numerous intervention orders against him for herself. In 2013, after Anderson threatened Luke with a knife, Batty finally sought an intervention order against him for both her and her son. But although the intervention order was initially instituted, Anderson successfully challenged it in court and was granted the right to access Luke in public while he played sport.
I realise the circumstances of Luke’s murder are well known, but I mention these specifics again to highlight how different the reality is from the narrative that usually swirls around family courts, aggrieved fathers and vindictive women. Men’s Rights Activists (including Mark Latham, who has led a hostile and defamatory campaign against Batty for years) love to claim that women manipulate the system and fabricate allegations of violence to punish men.
MRAs do this as a means of shutting down discussions around family violence while perpetuating the categorically unfounded myth that men are hard done by in the family court justice system. Batty herself has weathered this accusations (which, ironically, sit alongside other accusations that she put Luke in harm’s way by allowing him to see his father).
The truth is that while Batty accepted Anderson posed a threat to her own safety, she also knew he had never behaved violently towards Luke until the moment he brandished the knife in 2013. Because of this, she allowed the pair to maintain contact and supported them continuing a familial relationship. It wasn’t until Anderson’s threatening behaviour broadened to include Luke that she sought to prevent him from seeing him – and even then, the Family Court ultimately ruled in his partial favour.
Batty did everything women are told to do, despite the often contradictory messages. She left an abusive man. She encouraged a relationship between her son and his father while trying to protect her child. Yet Anderson was still able to inflict his final and most brutal punishment against her for removing herself from his control – robbing her of her beloved child. And in the fallout, Batty has endured reprehensible abuse, trolling, totally unsubstantiated accusations of fraud and, almost inconceivably, numerous claims that she’s just another man-hating attention seeker suckling at the (apparently) gold plated teat of the capitalist feminist machine. That trolling has escalated since she announced her decision to step down.
Despite the abuse meted out against her, Batty wakes up every day and continues to survive the most unconscionable act of violence perpetrated against her. For four long years, she did this in the public eye because it was so important to her to try to produce something out of Luke’s murder that might represent lasting change. She has done it even while Latham has noxiously pursued her over her alleged treatment of staff at the LBF and ‘theft” of funds, a claim he has yet to back-up with sources willing to go on the record. His bizarre fantasies have been categorically denied by staff members and an independent auditor but he’s still managed to outrage the collection of lunatics who consider him some kind of truth telling “journalist”. In turn, they have wasted no time directing their ludicrous conspiracy theories towards Batty.
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Never forget that this is the person we came close to electing as Prime Minister in 2004 – a man who has used his bitter hatred of feminists to doggedly pursue a woman whose ex partner murdered her son in front of her because he’s angry that she’s correctly named male violence as the problem.
In the face of all that she has withstood, who could blame her for walking away?
As a nation, we should be ashamed to know that a woman who has given so much (and had so much taken from her) has been forced out of essential work by the brutality of the public commentariat and its more prominent gurus. How revolting that Batty’s life now consists not just of grief but also of the toxic hatred of trolls, MRAs and misogynists like Latham. This is the price that people like her pay for trying to do what no one else has the stones for.
Rosie Batty, thank you for your service. You are a hero and an exemplary human being. Your work will not be forgotten . Because of your bravery and persistence, nor will Luke.