‘I know what that woman will be going through’

ROSIE Batty, who lost her son Luke at the hands of his father, has shed tears of empathy for the mother of two Sydney children shot dead by their father.

Addressing an anti-violence fundraiser in Adelaide yesterday, Ms Batty condemned 68-year-old John Edwards for killing his teenage son Jack and daughter Jennifer in the bedroom of their West Pennant Hills home.

"You have a 13-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy, siblings, who've been shot dead in a clearly highly barbaric, frightening manner by their father," Ms Batty said as she fought back tears.

"And their mother has come home to be greeted with this reality. How the hell do you recover from that?

"I know what that woman will be going through … the pain of thinking were they in fear before they were killed? Could I have stopped it?"

Olga Edwards was told by police on Thursday evening that her two children had been killed. Mr Edwards was later found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Normanhurst.

Olga Edwards’ two teenaged children were murdered by their father John Edwards, who later killed himself.
Olga Edwards’ two teenaged children were murdered by their father John Edwards, who later killed himself.

Police recovered two handguns at the house and say Mr Edwards planned the murders.

The family had been involved in a custody dispute that was before the courts and Mr Edwards had been known to police.

Ms Batty urged media and the public not to glorify the incident as "some weird thing that a loving father has done".

"A violent man with a violent record of domestic violence has access to guns and he's been able to use them to kill his family," she said.

"What he has done is the same thing that (ex-partner) Greg did to me (by killing Luke). He knew the most effective way to ruin your life."

Luke Batty was killed by his father Greg Anderson in February 2014 while at cricket training in the Victorian town of Tyabb. Anderson 54, was shot by police at the scene and died in hospital.

Ms Batty was speaking at the Real Estate Institute of SA's Sold on Solidarity event to raise money for Women's Safety Services SA.

REISA CEO Greg Troughton also fought back tears as he opened the event, divulging fears for his three daughters given that one in three women will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetime.

Ms Batty said fathers of daughters were "the greatest advocates" because they do not want their girls to experience "the lewd sexist comments, the glass ceiling" faced by previous generations.

John Edwards.
John Edwards.

 

She argued change would only come through uncomfortable disruption and "calling out" inappropriate comments, like Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm's suggestion in the Senate that the Greens' Sarah Hanson-Young should "stop shagging men".

"I'm listening to what's going on in the Senate and among the leaders of our country. They should be absolutely disgusted in the culture and the rhetoric and the sexism that's happening," Ms Batty said.

"What you say is a reflection of how you are thinking and it matters. In the past we let those comments go.

"Now we're calling it out and it is bloody uncomfortable for a lot of people. It is going to be a difficult journey for an awful lot of people but this is how it needs to be."

Ms Batty also wanted to see blame lifted from victims.

"The onus of safety is always on the victim," she said.

"Automatically we question what could she have done differently? What did she do to provoke him?"

Also speaking at the event was former tennis great Jelena Dokic, whose autobiography Unbreakable details the long-term physical, verbal and emotional abuse she endured from her father Damir.

It began when she was six years old and was "relentless" until Dokic left the family at 19.

Since revealing the abuse Dokic said she had received calls for help from young tennis players.

"Abuse and domestic violence in sport, especially in tennis, is everywhere, and people don't talk about it," she said.

"I've been in a situation in the last six months where I've tried to help people … girls that are 14, 15 years old that are not just in abusive relationships but … also they're being raped.

"A lot of players, especially girls, have asked me for advice.

"There are measures in place today a lot better than when I was growing up … but it can always get better."

For support phone 1800 RESPECT or Women's Safety Services SA on 1800 800 098.



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