Domestic Violence Debate-Why some fathers kill, the tragic murder suicide that’s reignited the debate over domestic violence.
Why some fathers kill, the tragic murder suicide that’s reignited the debate over domestic violence.
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Here is a story about the murder suicide tragedy that sparked discussion all around the nation about domestic violence.
Early this week, estranged father Paul Rogers killed four people, including his five-year-old daughter and himself.
These incidents aren’t common, but they do happen with a tragic regularity, and every time they prompt soul searching about why. Deborah Cornwall reports.
CINDY GAMBINO: I can’t understand what goes through a father’s mind in the terms of, "I have to kill my child to get to her." It doesn’t have to be like that. It truly doesn’t.
DEBORAH CORNWALL, REPORTER: It was six years ago on Fathers’ Day when Robert Farquharson drove his three sons into a dam. But rather than trying to save them, he left them to drown, flagging down a passing car and heading straight to ex-wife Cindy Gambino to tell her the shocking news.
CINDY GAMBINO: You’re never ever the same person. And then I think why do fathers feel that they have to take their children’s lives in order to get back at the mother?
CAROLYN HARRIS-JOHNSON, CURTIN UNI: What would be important for him would be to actually see the result of his work, so that he would want to witness the pain on the surviving parent himself. He’d want to see it, he’d want to be there, he’d want to watch.
DEBORAH CORNWALL: It took Cindy Gambino three years to believe Robert Farquharson was actually capable of such a monstrous act, even supporting him through his first trial.
CINDY GAMBINO: I thought things were fairly amicable between us. I had no idea that he would ever harm the children. If anything, I thought he was gonna harm himself.
DEBORAH CORNWALL: The discovery this week of another family murder, this time on the Gold Coast, has prompted yet another debate about what can be done to help protect mothers and children.
TIM TERIZE, QLD POLICE: It’s obvious that when these tragic events happen that we all look for answers in trying to explain why it happened. And unfortunately, rarely is there a simple explanation.
DEBORAH CORNWALL: Paul Rogers had the names of his estranged partner and two children etched into his body after he separated from Tania Simpson six months ago. On Sunday night, he went on a rampage, stabbing her to death along with a family friend.
???: It would appear that both bodies have suffered some form of trauma. I can’t say anything more beyond that.
DEBORAH CORNWALL: The bodies of Rogers and his five-year-old daughter Kyla were discovered the next day in a car in northern NSW.
CAROLYN HARRIS-JOHNSON: I think what’s really driving these men is their own need to have power and control over the woman that they were in a relationship with.
DEBORAH CORNWALL: Social work lecturer Carolyn Harris-Johnson has just published her findings on a 10-year study of so-called filicide killings in Australia. What she found was a clear pattern among men who kill their families. It’s not so much the custody battles that drive men to murder, she says; more than anything, they simply want to punish their wives for leaving them – in the most horrific way they can.
CAROLYN HARRIS-JOHNSON: My research showed that where these cases had occurred, there wasn’t actually an existing dispute in the courts, so what I see is that the proprietary attitude that these men have, both towards their wives and towards their children, allows them to commit the offence, because they are possessions of his, they’re not entities in their own right.
DIONNE FEHRING: Well there’s sliding doors in life. You decide which doors you’re going to take and that was the door that he chose to take on that day, was to kill the kids and himself.
DEBORAH CORNWALL: Dionne Fehring’s two children were suffocated by their father Jason Dalton on Anzac Day 2004.
DIONNE FEHRING: I knew that he was capable of murdering me because of the threats he’d made against me, but I never ever thought he’d make – he would kill the kids. I don’t think anyone knew what he was capable of. I certainly didn’t. I didn’t think he would do that. And could anything have been done differently? No. He had it in his mind of what he was going to do. I don’t think anyone could have changed his mind.
DEBORAH CORNWALL: MensLine, a national counselling service, today cautioned men going through the crisis of a divorce or separation didn’t need the stigma of being regarded as potentially homicidal.
RANDAL NEWTOWN-JOHN, MENSLINE: Obviously men who are going through these situations may be feeling angry, hurt or scared, but that doesn’t mean to say they’re dangerous.
CAROLYN HARRIS-JOHNSON: So we’re talking about a very, very small group of men who have a particular and intense need to control their partner and who will never accept the finality of separation.
DEBORAH CORNWALL: But victims and experts say we now know enough about this kind of homicidal behaviour to recognise some of the red flags.
CAROLYN HARRIS-JOHNSON: Things like veiled threats to harm the children or explicit threats to harm the children or the self should be warning flags to everyone.
CINDY GAMBINO: My biggest thing is just get help. Don’t think it’s the end of the world. It’s not the end of the world. The end of the world is when you kill your children.
LEIGH SALES: Deborah Cornwell reporting.