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Not just monsters and Adrian Bayleys: Tom Meagher on normal men's violence against women

Jill Meagher was murdered in 2012 – now her husband has written a searingly honest and powerful blogpost about violence against women.

Updated 10.01pm

tom-meagher-390x285 Tom Meagher Source: ABC News

TOM MEAGHER, THE husband of Jill Meagher, who was murdered in Melbourne in September 2012, has written a powerful essay on the issue of violence against women.

In The Danger of the Monster Myth, Louth native Meagher writes about how hearing Adrian Bayley, his wife’s killer, speak in court forced him to realise that Bayley was ‘human’.

This, in turn, made Meagher realise there is a stereotypical image of violent men as ‘monsters’, which can prevent violence against women being recognised.

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.

Leaving court traumatised after such a difficult process, Meagher said he knew he needed “to re-imagine the social, institutional and cultural context in which a man like Adrian Bayley exists”.

Meagher says that he dreamed for over a year of how he would like to physically hurt Bayley.

He now believes it would 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 Bayley’s death.

Meagher writes that he “self-comforted” by avoiding the “terrifying concept that violent men are socialised by the ingrained sexism and entrenched masculinity that permeates everything from our daily interactions all the way up to our highest institutions”.

Gillian Meagher Memorial Mass A tribute to Jill Meagher Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Violence against women

In his blogpost, Meagher explains that it can be difficult to mobilise outrage from large numbers of people about violence towards women by men.

This is because in most cases the victim suffered in silence, the perpetrator was known to them, and they lack an archetypal villain and a relatable victim.

He describes a ‘silent majority’ whose “tormentors are not monsters lurking on busy streets, but their friends, acquaintances, husbands, lovers, brothers and fathers”.

In the blog post, Meagher calls on other non-violent men to have their voices heard, and speak out about the violence faced by women.

While the vast majority of men abhor violence against women, those dissenting male voices are rarely heard in our public discourse, outside of the monster-rapist narrative.

He also explains how this ‘monster-myth’ can feed into victim-blaming, and into ignoring non-consensual sex happening “on a daily basis everywhere on the planet”.

It can also, he says, limit women’s freedom, and persist with an obsession with a victim’s movements rather than the actions of the perpetrator.

Meagher says that what would make the tragedy of his young wife’s murder even more tragic “would be if we were to separate what happened to Jill from cases of violence against women where the victim knew, had a sexual past with, talked to the perpetrator in a bar, or went home with him”.

We cannot end the pattern of men’s violence against women “without consciously breaking our silence”, he concludes.

Read the full blog post on the White Ribbon blog.

Originally published 9.26am

Read: Jill Meagher’s parents facing financial difficulties and health problems>

Read: Moreland mayor: People haven’t forgotten Jill>

Read; Tom Meagher: Justice system failed Jill, Bayley was “unrepentantly evil”>

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