What does terrorism and family violence have in common?

554956_647306261946593_1360160828_nViolence against women and children and terrorism share much in common. Both family violence and terrorism are carried out, by and large, by angry men. Take away the alcohol, the Hizb ut-Tahrir lectures, the swaggering pub culture and the heady calls to create a ‘new world order’ and all that’s left in either scenario is angry men using force on the most undeserving of victims: from children to adults to immediate family to total strangers.

In describing family violence as terrorism, I am not simply referring to the very real terror experienced by the victims and their loved ones. I mean that some such murders are not just an act of private anger, but are intended to send an explicit message to a far broader audience.  For example, the murder of Darcey Freeman in 2009. The four-year-old girl died after her father threw her from the West Gate Bridge in an act of vengeance against his former wife — but also an act of anger against the family court system, which he believed had ‘ambushed him’ during the custody process. Minutes before throwing his daughter to her death, he phoned a friend in England to tell her that there were ‘angry women everywhere he turned.’ The death of the little girl traumatised witnesses and first responders — and also terrorised many other women whose former partners, like Freeman, have told them that they will live to regret the day having humiliated them.

Terrorism is a large-scale version of family violence. Terrorists treat civilian populations the way domestic abusers treat their spouses and/or children. The abuser mentality in both cases makes domination or power and control, a life goal.

The views expressed on this page are those of Dr Ree Boddé and do not necessarily represent the views of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne or its program partners Anglicare Victoria and the Brotherhood of St Laurence. While all reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this page, no liability is assumed for any errors or omissions.