Stop eulogizing and excusing controlling and violent men: Rowan Baxter coercively controlled, stalked and brutally murdered Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey.
Hannah had separated from Baxter in December due to his controlling and abusive behaviour. They had been together for 11 years.
She had taken out a restraining order because she was in fear of him and wanted to protect herself and the children. Earlier this month he breached the order by contacting Hannah.
On Wednesday 19 February at around 0800 Baxter set fire to the car Hannah was taking the children to school in.
Baxter was angry, shouting at bystanders and preventing them from trying to get the children out, eyewitnesses say.
He then stabbed himself.
Hannah was pulled from the car, skin melting off her body screaming “he poured petrol on me.” She later died in hospital.
Hannah’s parents, Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke, said that Baxter was a ‘master manipulator’ who controlled Hannah from the start. She was 19 when they met and he was 30. he was always trying to isolate her, they said, and he would ruin her relationships.
Friends say Hannah confided in them that he was financially controlling and sexually controlling.
Hannah’s friend, Manja Whaley, told Today that Baxter used emotionally abusive and controlling tactics, kept a watch on her social media and regularly threatened to punish her and her children.
“For such a long time she didn’t believe she was in a DV relationship. It hadn’t crossed her mind, because as she said to me, her words ‘he didn’t hit me’,” Manja Whaley, who worked in the domestic violence sector, said
He controlled what Hannah wore, when she went to the gym or beach and coerced her into having sex. He would punish her and the children if she did not do what he wanted. He body shamed her, despite the fact that she was an incredible athlete.
This is not a story about a former rugby star who ‘died with his kids in a car fire.’ And no-one ‘drove him’ to do this.
Rowan Baxter chose to do this.
This is a story about an entitled, abusive, manipulative and controlling man who was rejected and wanted revenge.
Baxter decided that if he could not have Hannah and the children, then no-one would. He brutally murdered them in one of the most painful ways possible – setting them on fire.
The forensic narrative must be urgently corrected. Misogynistic views must be challenged and coercive control must be criminalised in the names of Hannah, Aaliayh, Laianah and Trey and all those who have been murdered by men before them. We owe it to them and future victims.
My Two Cents: Sadly, too often people think domestic abuse is about physical violence.
This is exactly why the coercive control law is needed in Australia.
Queensland should be first to honour Hannah, Aaliyah, Lainah and Trey.
We need to change the law, change and challenge the narrative and culture.
Men do not own women. Men do not control women.
Men are not entitled to kill women and children when they do not get what they want.
And misogyny must be challenged at all levels of society including in the police and by the media.
This is not a mental health issue. This is a male violence issue. Name it. Prioritise it. Deal with it.