Monday 19 February 2018

'Since Jill died, my inbox is filled with women sharing their stories of abuse', says Tom Meagher

Jill Meagher with her husband Tom. Jill was murdered while walking home from a night out in Melbourne in 2012.
Jill Meagher with her husband Tom. Jill was murdered while walking home from a night out in Melbourne in 2012.

Nick Brimhall

The husband of murdered Irish woman Jill Meagher has told how thousands of sexually-abused women have shared their own horrific stories with him since the death of his wife.

Tom Meagher said he's been inundated with messages from victims, many who were too afraid to turn to the police for help.

Adrian Bayley was jailed for life last year for the rape and murder of the 29-year-old Drogheda woman in Melbourne, Australia.

And in an emotional blog as part of the White Ribbon campaign (a global initiative which aims to end men's violence against women), Mr Meagher told how he is still haunted by the "chilling" memory of hearing Bayley speak in court.

He wrote: "One of the most disturbing moments ...was hearing my wife's killer form a coherent sentence in court. It was chilling. I had formed an image that this man was not human, that he existed as a singular force of pure evil who somehow emerged from the ether."

But he said he has since learned to channel his anger by focusing on the wider global problem of violence against women -- issues which he said Jill herself had highlighted to him before her brutal death.

He said: "Since Jill died, my inbox overflowed with messages from thousands of women who shared with me their stories of sexual and physical abuse.

"Some were prostitutes who felt it pointless to report sexual assault because of perceived deficiencies in the justice system, some were women whose tormentors received suspended sentences and felt too frightened to stay in their home town.

"I dreamed for over a year of how I would like to physically hurt this man (Bayley), and still often relish the inevitable manner of his death.

"But wouldn't it be more beneficial for Jill's memory, and other women affected by violence, to focus on the problems that surround our attitudes, our legal system, our silence, rather than focusing on what manner we would like to torture and murder this individual?

"Adrian Bayley murdered a daughter, a sister, a great friend to so many, and my favourite person.

"I am the first one who wants to see him vilified...but it only does any good if this example highlights rather than obscures the social issues that surround men's violence against women."

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