The sister of Allison Baden-Clay, who tragically died at the hands of her violent husband, has delivered a powerful message about domestic violence as she continues to honour her sibling’s memory.
Vanessa Fowler has been campaigning against domestic abuse since her sister was murdered by partner Gerard Baden-Clay and dumped under a bridge near their family home.
This week in Queensland’s capital Brisbane, the loving sibling launched a campaign as part of the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation which highlights “relationship red flags”, such as the non-physical signs of violence, Nine News reports.
Spreading awareness on the topic, Vanessa said – like Allison – there are many who suffer in silence with controlling partners who display signs of emotional and financial abuse.
“If you’re in a relationship there are some red flags you can be aware of, for example, emotional and verbal abuse, isolation and of course financial abuse as well,” Vanessa explained, according to the news outlet.
“Domestic and family violence manifests itself in so many different ways we just want people to be aware it’s not just physical.”
On Tuesday Allison’s family gathered in Brisbane’s city centre to hand out “kindness cookies” to passersby as they launched the 2019 Strive To Be Kind campaign.
It’s just one of many programs created as part of the foundation which was set up in 2014, two years after Allison’s death. The family have also connected with Griffith University and created the MATE Bystander program which aims to educate the public about family and domestic violence and what they can do as bystanders to help those being abused.
“We really do feel that we are making a difference and the educational programs that we have created and developed along with Griffith University are certainly helping those in the community,” Vanessa reportedly added.
The latest campaign will be recognised on July 26 with Brisbane’s Story Bridge and Goodwill Bridge lit up in yellow in recognition of Allison and those suffering through domestic violence.
It has been a difficult seven years for Allison’s family since her death, with Vanessa speaking out earlier this year about the domestic abuse that her sister suffered in the final months of her life.
Speaking candidly to The Australian Women’s Weekly, Vanessa said her sister’s husband Gerard was “aloof” at family events, but she “never dreamed that he would have it in him to actually murder her”.
Vanessa said she only learned that Allison had been in an abusive relationship when details of their troubled marriage were laid bare in court.
“We felt that Allison was strong enough to handle what went on behind closed doors,” Vanessa said at the time. “She was very strong and very determined — very determined to raise her three children in the way that she wanted.”
In the final months of her life, Vanessa said her family were aware that the mother-of-three was becoming increasingly isolated from them but couldn’t have guessed at how serious it was. She said the family were worried that he would take it out on Allison and the girls if they ever interfered.
“Withdrawing is a red flag in itself. If we had known what the signs were, we may have been more determined to intervene, rather than letting her tell us that everything was OK,” she added to the news outlet. “There are lots of should have, could have, would have scenarios that go around in our heads.”
If you are concerned about domestic and family violence in your family, friends or workplace, contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732, Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978, Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 or Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 for confidential support, advice and referral that will help you explore your options.