JILL Meagher’s widowed husband has broken his silence to support abused women.
Tom Meagher warns against “ingrained sexism” and the “monster myth” around men who commit appalling crimes.
Mr Meagher, in an essay for the White Ribbon Campaign, recalls how hearing his wife’s killer, Adrian Bayley, speak for the first time clarified his views on men who perpetrate violence against women.
He recalled when the rapist-murderer responded to a judge’s question.
“I froze because I’d been socialised to believe that men who rape are jabbering madmen,” he writes in a website blog.
“It was chilling, I had formed an image that this man was not human, that he existed as a singular force of pure evil.”
Mr Meagher has turned that perspective into support for the White Ribbon Campaign in his native Ireland.
Ms Meagher, 29, had been walking home from a Brunswick bar when she was raped, murdered and dumped out of town.
The crime in 2012 drew public outrage, prompted a peace march of 30,000 people, and led to reforms in the justice system.
Mr Meagher said he had been overwhelmed by messages from thousands of women who had been abused.
He said he realised he needed to take a stand and highlight the causes of such violence, that his wife’s random rape and murder couldn’t be treated in isolation because it fed into a “monster myth” of men who abused women.
“The more I felt the incredible support from the community, the more difficult it was to ignore the silent majority whose tormentors are not monsters lurking on busy streets, but their friends, acquaintances, husbands, lovers, brothers and fathers,” he wrote.
“We cannot separate these cases from one another ... doing so allows us to ignore the fact all these crimes have exactly the same cause: violent men and the silence of non-violent men.”
He said it was only when good men took a stand that the abusive cycle would end.