Tag Archives: domestic violence

Another Baby Is Dead, Let’s Not Demonise People With Postnatal Depression


Content warning: (Infanticide, PTSD, DV, Suicide)

The nation held its collective breath when Sofina Nikat, mother of 14-month-old Sanaya Shahib, said that her daughter had been stolen by a “black man” whilst they went for their morning walk. Nikat claimed the man smelled strongly of alcohol, wore no shoes, he was African, between 20-30 years old, and that he pushed her down and then unstrapped little Sanaya before running off with the toddler. The story seemed far fetched, Internet sleuths quickly pointed out how could she know the age or gender or ethnicity if she didn’t really see them, how did he unstrap the baby in time, and what the F does African look like? The continent of Africa contains many countries and ethnicities so simply “African” doesn’t cut it. This isn’t 1920s America where a vague story about a “black man” is enough to get everyone gathering their pitchforks. And of course the brother of Nikat speaking about himself more so than the toddler he should have been grieving made everyone even more suspicious. Their suspicions were correct, Nikat has confessed. The “black man” didn’t take her baby. She murdered her baby.

Cue the cries of, “she must have had PND.” People insisting that the mother be shown compassion because nobody in their right mind would do something so horrible, she must have had Postnatal Depression. Compassion is an admirable state but I’ll just give you a moment to think about the full statement and let that sink in. Nobody in their right mind would do something so horrible, she must have had Postnatal Depression

Recently another Australian toddler died at the hands of his mother. His name was Braxon and his mother was Jasmine Mossman-Riley. Mossman-Riley jumped off a cliff holding her son Braxon after leaving a suicide note on Facebook. It was tragic. Any death is tragic, more so a child, and even more so when that child has the terror and pain of witnessing someone that they love killing them. Mossman-Riley’s family have said that she suffered from PTSD as a result of Domestic Violence and have urged victims to speak out and get help before it is too late. Nobody wants something like this to happen again. A family member of mine, on hearing about this case, decided to take me aside and tell me that she had read about the mother in Sydney who had jumped off a cliff with her child and that the mother who jumped had PND and I also had PND and to call her before I did something like that… blinks… it was mortifying. Let’s not even get into the logistics of the situation. The idea that I could get myself, a four year old and two year old twins off a cliff at the same time when I struggle to merely get them in the car at the same time without losing a sock somewhere. A friend told me to shake it off, she’s just a an older lady concerned about the kids…. but why? Because there’s a subconscious bias that PND = potential baby killer. [My friend, for the record has suffered PND and knows the two aren’t one and the same and wasn’t saying they were.] And not in the same way that anybody could become a killer, people link the two closely. It’s a subconscious bias that needs to be challenged because it is utterly false.

Those who follow my blog know I’m open about my struggles with PND. I even blogged whilst in a psychiatric hospital  (first entry is here), but I have never had an urge to hurt any of my children or kill them. I’m a living, breathing, human being, not some blown up stereotype made up by the media, an actual human being. And it was hurtful to be treated as such. As if any time somebody murdered their child, I would be thought of and that other mums, just struggling to get by, and doing their absolute best would be thought of as well. After how hard we try to be the best mums possible, in the end we’re just cut down to mindless killing machines because nothing else matters but that one label – PND. A label that shouldn’t even mean psychotic baby killer in the first place. It was insensitive and it hurt. It was also unfair. And the irony is, the mother had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from Domestic Violence, not Postnatal Depression.

Conservative estimates state that approximately 1 in 7 mothers experience Postnatal Depression. That’s just over 14%. Other figures have the rates considerably higher, even up to 30%. That’s a lot of women. If you know 7 mothers, chances are, at least one of them has experienced Postnatal Depression. Many of them will never have told you and the vast majority of them you will have thought were excellent mothers with good relationships with their children. You’d think that because the vast majority of them are. Depression is not the same as being a pathological killer. It is not the same as not knowing wrong from right. It is not the same as being utterly unable to control your actions. It can be debilitating,  it can cause bonding issues, although much less frequently than the media and societal stereotypes would have you believe. It does cause high levels of anxiety around your ability to parent. Anxiety than can interrupt sleep even more so than a baby up all night with reflux, or even twins with reflux. I’ve had both, the singleton, and the twins with reflux. And I’ve also had Postnatal Depression. Never have I ever had a thought to hurt, maim, or murder, any one of my children. Suicide, oh yeah, I’ve contemplated that, murdering another human being, one utterly dependant on me, no I have not. And chances are, the women that you know with PND, regardless of if they have told you they have it or not, also aren’t ticking time bombs just waiting to go off and kill a child.

Beyond Postnatal Depression is Postnatal Psychosis. In this state mothers do lose contact with reality and experience impaired decision making capabilities. Unsupported women with this condition can cause serious damage before they receive help. Supported women in treatment often have successful recoveries and have meaningful relationships with their children. When I was in the Mothers and Babies Unit at a Psychiatric Hospital I met two women who had been diagnosed with this condition. Both were picked up almost immediately after birth. Most cases are picked up within 2 weeks of birth. The first had been in treatment for three months by the time I met her. I would not have realised that she had a serious condition because her treatment had been so successful. I had noted that she did try to avoid being alone with her baby and had thought it was because she was a young mum and was simply anxious. Her anxiety was a whole other level because she still didn’t quite trust herself. She loved her baby very much and did not have murderous intent. So why was she worried? Perhaps explaining what the second woman I met was like might help. The second woman that I met with Postnatal Psychosis had only just been admitted. She had little touch with reality and at times didn’t seem to realise that her baby was her own. Had she been left alone with her baby she could have left it on the side of the street thinking it waa a garbage bag or tossed it into the washing machine thinking the baby was laundry. A pretty terrifying prospect for a young mum to think she might harm her baby without realising. I hope both of those women are doing great now, I know they were in the best place to recover and to embark upon fantastic future because they deserved it. And I don’t think people reminding them every time a child is murdered that they too were once unstable would contribute to that. In fact they’d probably find it not only hurtful that nobody could see their progress but also triggering. Do you really want to trigger a psychotic episode due to your insensitivity? Id also like to note that neither of these women killed their babies. A diagnosis of Postnatal Psychosis does not a killer make. A whole series of negative circumstances surrounding a mental health issue generally contribute to a catastrophic result such as murder, not simply the diagnosis of PND or PNP. So be careful when using a label of mental illness to explain murder because there is far more too it than that and you’re unintentionally vilifying a group of vulnerable people who are far more likely to be the victim of a crime than have one committed against them.

So how about we start being more careful about what we assume about others because of one of the many “labels” that they “wear.” And don’t treat a bunch of anxious mums trying to do their best like unhinged murderers incapable of making a decision, just be nice.

If you or someone you know has postnatal depression you can find good resources on the following sites:

  1. Gidget Foundation http://gidgetfoundation.com.au/
  2. PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/
  3. PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/
  4. Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
  5. Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/ 

Let #MKR’s Dee-saster Inspire A Relationship Health Check



I like many Australians watched My Kitchen Rules last night. I like many Australians was left feeling sickened by the emotional abuse being depicted on the screen. For those who missed the episode,  Dee continually berated, blamed, and belittled her husband Tim. It was quite triggering and upsetting to watch given that Channel 7 had given no content warning and MKR had actually tweeted “Enjoy” about the episode. Domestic Violence is an important issue. Documentaries such as Hitting Home are important and educational viewing but they are not titillating and enjoyable. Nor are they marketed that way. Chanel 7 and MKR’s irresponsibility with their advertising and lack of content warning aside, we can still use this blatant depiction* of spousal psychological abuse to help educate and improve our own relationships. Let this episode inspire us all to give our relationships a health check-up.

Throughout the episode Dee screams at Tim. Every mistake is his fault.  Even mistakes that haven’t happened are his fault. She interrupts him part way through processes to yell at him before he’s even made a mistake. Tim is clearly so stressed that he can’t even think. And then after screaming at Tim, Dee manipulates him with tears and cries to garner sympathy. It’s extreme. Immediate help and intervention is needed. But can you honestly say you’ve never yelled. Think of the last four weeks. Have you become so frustrated with your partner or kids that you have yelled at them? Sure, they were being annoying, sure they weren’t listening, sure there were plenty of other explanations, but have you yelled?

If it was because they had headphones on and a wave of lava was about to hit them you’re probably fine.

If it was at your partner because you felt they wouldn’t listen any other way does that seem healthy to you. Isn’t that a dynamic you need to discuss? You’re leaking rage because you’re feeling stonewalled. Don’t you want help to no longer feel powerless? Don’t you want your sense of self to be strong enough to withstand any perceived slight? Don’t you want a relationship where your needs are heard without you feeling like you have to lose control?  Don’t you want mutual respect. Don’t you want to control yourself even when things don’t go your own way? Life won’t always go your way, it can’t. So it’s time to discuss this relationship dynamic with your partner. Think about getting personal therapy for your own issues and some couples counselling for the negative dynamic you are in. Relationships Australia can help. Your GP can help. Go get a Mental Health Check with your GP and get referred to a therapist. Not only does your partner not deserve to be screamed at, and if you have kids they don’t deserve to overhear it, but you also don’t deserve to feel angry and powerless all the time. You can change. No matter what your reasons, no matter what your past is, you can improve, and there is help for you. Seize it.

If it was at your children stop and think, is this the lesson I want to teach them? That might makes right. That screaming and terror is a valid resolution to a behavioural issue. Perhaps you think it is, but perhaps you feel like there is no other option and the yelling actually makes you feel stressed and awful too. There are programs such as Circle of Security and psychologists that can help you come up with alternate solutions if you don’t want screaming and violence to be your methods of discipline. There is help, sometimes it’s hard to see that things can be better in moments of high stress but they truly can be.  You can be the parent that you want to be. Speak to your GP. They can help with so much more than a sick certificate. They are there to support you. Seeking help is not a weakness it is a sign of strength and a sign of making good choices.

Parenting is tough. Relationships are tough. Just being yourself is tough. There is help out there for you to be the best possible you. Please take it. Please seize it. Don’t live with self anger and guilt any longer. Don’t leak that rage onto others. Break the cycle. You just need to take the first step and seek help.

You don’t need to be an out of control spousal beater to want to change. Anyone can want to be better.

Useful Contacts:
Relationships Australia 1300 364 277
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
Lifeline 131 114
I would also recommend checking out the resources on The Black Dog Institute website.


*I’m aware editing can make things look better or worse. Let’s still use this as a learning opportunity.



Every day, around the world, women and girls are harassed, bullied and abused on social media. It’s time to say, ENOUGH! We stand with Clementine Ford, and every other woman who has been threatened with rape and murder for simply expressing an opinion. These men need to be held to account. Social media platforms should provide more protection. And legislators, in all jurisdictions, must work together to stop violence against women.

Victim Blamers are Irrational and Overly Emotional


There was a woman in the park today wearing a t-shirt, underpants, sheer stockings, and heels. Not tights, sheer stockings. And you know what? I didn’t have to slightest desire to rape her and I didn’t rape her. So I guess the idea that what women wears makes someone want or need to rape them is utterly illogical. She was in a park, an apparent danger area; she was dressed in what I imagine is not appropriate attire according to victim blamers, in heels which aren’t fab for running and foregoing trousers, shorts or a skirt of any kind; she was wearing, heaven forbid, red lipstick; and she still didn’t get raped.

You know why?

Because people who indicate that to avoid rape you must dress in a certain manner are utterly illogical and over emotional with fear. Their emotions are clouding their judgement. Rape is awful. People are rightfully scared of it. Scared of being raped and scared of someone they know being raped, because it is just as awful as they imagine, more so in fact. So their fear leads them to lay down behavioural sanctions that will hopefully protect others and themselves. They say how you can dress, where you can go, when you can go, what you can drink, but the problem is that this just doesn’t work.

You know why?

Monitoring victims and potential victims behaviours doesn’t work because a rapist doesn’t play by your rules. Your rules that if everybody acts and looks as you want then they’ll be safe. Rapists have their own rules, their rules are that they are entitled to other people’s bodies, no matter how the other person feels. Logically the only way to actually stop rape is by getting the message across that you are not entitled to another human beings body. And logically giving these rapists an excuse for their behaviour like dress, location, etc, you are in fact just encouraging them to think what they are doing is okay.

Stop being irrational and emotional about the issue. Victim blaming is counter productive no matter how you dress it up as being protective. The only way to stop rape is a zero tolerance approach. Rape is not okay. It does not matter where a person is, when they are there, or how they are dressed, you are not entitled to their body. Likening women’s bodies to a car, or a lost wallet, or any other tired old metaphor, isn’t going to work. The rapist needs to modify their behaviour and their sense of entitlement, not the other way around.

If you are still struggling with this concept please watch this as it might help you:

How to Stop Domestic Violence


1. Don’t hit your spouse, significant other, children, stepchildren, foster children, or anyone under your care.

2. Don’t make excuses for people perpetrating abuse. It isn’t just a robust relationship, it isn’t tough love
It is a crime, it isn’t the victims fault. Report it as the crime that it is.

3. Persecute these crimes as you would any other. DV is no less of a crime than a “Cowards Punch.”

4. Take care of our vulnerable instead of taking advantage of them.

5. If you think you’re going to hurt someone then report yourself to a GP for a mental health check and get therapy immediately.

6. If you abuse someone take yourself to the police immediately.

7. If you become violent when you drink then don’t drink.