Posted 12 November 2020 in Announcement

“He never hit me, so I didn’t think it was abuse” –  it’s time to #criminalisecoercivecontrol

Queensland mum-of-three Hannah Clarke, who was violently killed by her estranged husband in a suburban street in February this year, has been posthumously honoured in the inaugural marie claire Women of the Year list.

Hannah, who died alongside her three children Trey, Laianah and Aaliyah after being doused in petrol and set alight, is recognised for her bravery in bringing nationwide attention to coercive control, the insidious form of domestic violence that subjects victims to a barrage of psychological abuse.

“Though she had burns to 97% of her body, Hannah still managed to give police a clear and articulate statement,” Hannah’s mother, Sue Clarke, told marie claire. “She pushed herself to repeat it; the police were in awe. It was truly to make him pay – she was going to fight for her babies to the end.”

Said marie claire editor, Nicky Briger: “People don’t realise the incredible bravery and resilience Hannah displayed during those last horrific hours of her life to ensure her story was told. Because of Hannah, coercive control was given nationwide attention, and now her parents – Sue and Lloyd – are carrying on her legacy by fighting to make coercive control a crime in Australia.”

Hanah’s parents have established a foundation to raise awareness about controlling relationships and to criminalise coercive control. “Hannah’s story has already changed so many lives – people who didn’t understand what coercive control was have now realised they are actually in an abusive relationship,” Lloyd Clarke said.

Hannah’s mother, Sue Clarke, said she was honoured that marie claire had chosen to include her daughter in the inaugural listing: “Hannah was so happy and proud to be a mum, and she would be so honoured to be considered one of the Women of the Year, simply for doing what came naturally to her. We’ve always known how strong and inspirational she is, and we’re so grateful that others are recognising that too.”

Nicky Briger said Hannah Clarke was typical of the inspiring women who defined the 2020 Women Of the Year list – everyday Australians who are making a difference in these extraordinary times: “It was a year when we needed everyday heroes: whether it was doctors and nurses on the Covid frontline, passionate activists fighting for justice, leaders taking decisive action, or entertainers who allowed us to escape,’’ Briger said. “Everyone in our inaugural Women of the Year list has helped us get through what has been a year like no other.”

The 2020 Women of the Year line-up honours Australian women who have offered hope, change and courage as our country faced devastating bushfires, a global pandemic and a strong campaign to put an end to family violence. The new listing of female game-changers and trailblazers will be an annual event on the marie claire calendar.

The list includes frontline healthcare workers, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell accuser Virgina Roberts Giuffre, bushfire fundraising hero and comedian Celeste Barber, Indigenous activist Apryl Day, international model and campaigner Adut Akech Bior, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, actor Sarah Snook and long distance swimmer Chloë McCardel.

marie claire and its publisher, Are Media, have formed a coalition of legal advocates and domestic violence groups to demand that Australian legislators criminalise coercive control. To support the campaign, sign the petition at coercivecontrol.com.au. For help dealing with family violence call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.