The death of a young woman in her prime is heartbreaking; to lose this same young mother of three to domestic violence is a tragedy. Tara, a hardworking, confident, strong mother of two formed a relationship with Marcus, a local tradie, who appeared to be charming and sincere. A year later they were expecting the arrival of their baby daughter; however, all was not well on the home front. There were ‘red flags’ that this relationship was in real trouble. Shortly after the birth of the baby, Marcus murdered Tara, in front of her young sons, with an axe!
Heidi Lemon, herself a victim of domestic violence in an earlier relationship, in this well researched book ‘The First Time He Hit Her’ attempts to unravel the reasons why this crime is still such a huge factor in the death of so many women in Australia. The author interviewed, where possible, all relatives of the victim and the perpetrator, as well accessing the information of many highly regarded studies. As a result of this in-depth research, she concluded that despite the common belief that people murdered by their current or former partner have suffered physical violence previously, this is not always the case.
It is the ‘secret crime’ which is grossly under reported because 80 percent of women do not report emotional or psychological abuse. Due to the lack of understanding of the exact nature of ‘red flags’ (or by downplaying) by the victim, she is killed; homicide being the ultimate expression of coercive control.
A considerable part of this book details the court case which resulted from this homicide; giving the reader a better understanding of the nature of this crime and a possible reason for it.
If this book helps only one reader to extradite herself from an abusive situation, the author will have achieved her goal. Tara the subject of the book was one of eighty women who was murdered in 2015; it is estimated by ‘Counting Dead Women’ project that 80 percent of these deaths were as a result of domestic violence.