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"Not all domestic abuse is physical": A vital message from Hannah Clarke's family.

This post deals with domestic violence and might be triggering for some readers. If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic violence, call 1800RESPECTon 1800 737 732. In an emergency, call 000.

The family of Hannah Clarke has spoken of the horrific abuse she suffered prior to her death, calling her killer Rowan Baxter “evil”.

On Wednesday, the 31-year-old and her children — Lainah, six years old, Aaliyah, 4, and Trey, 3 —  died from injuries sustained in a car fire lit by Hannah’s estranged husband. The killer died on the footpath from self-inflicted stab wounds. The incident has been labelled a ‘murder-suicide’.

Hannah’s parents, Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke, and her brother, Nathaniel, gave an interview to A Current Affair on Friday night, providing heartbreaking insight into what Hannah’s life was like with the man who would go on to kill her and their three kids.

“She said to me only last week ‘Mum should I do a will? What happens to my babies if he kills me? Because he’ll go to jail for murder, who gets my children?'” Suzanne Clarke recounted.

Watch: Violence against women… the hidden numbers. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

Hannah’s mum was clear in her assessment of Baxter: “He was evil.”

The family claims the killer stalked Hannah Clarke through her mobile phone and knew where she was at all times.

“She wasn’t allowed to wear bikinis, she works in the fitness industry and wasn’t allowed to wear shorts. She had to cover up,” Hannah’s mum said.

“In the beginning, we thought he was a prude, but in hindsight we know there was more to it than that. He was controlling. It was Rowan’s way or the highway.

“She had to grovel and then he would forgive her. She was petrified.

“He could manipulate her. The night before he killed them he was on the phone to the children crying and she hung up or the children hung up, and she said to me ‘Mum I feel so bad for him’.

“He was very good at playing the victim. We knew there was no way she could just say, ‘I’m going’ and walk out the door.”

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hannah clarke family
Hannah Clarke's parents Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke and her brother Nathaniel on A Current Affair. Image: Channel Nine.

In early January, a Brisbane magistrate granted the police application for a domestic violence order (DVO) to protect Hannah and the children, after he kidnapped one of their kids and took her interstate.

The Clarke family said there had been multiple incidences in which Baxter would take the children hostage and times where he breached the couple's domestic violence order.

"Not all domestic abuse is physical. Mental is probably one of the hardest things to pick up on," Nathaniel continued.

"Even Hannah, for a few years there, she said to me 'I was thinking it wasn't abuse, because he never hit me.'"

As Moo Baulch, CEO of Domestic Violence NSW, previously told Mamamia, "Domestic violence is not just about broken bones and bruises and visits to the accident and emergency department. It’s a pattern of abuse of power and control usually felt by one partner over another, and there may be a number of different sort of types of behaviour that are occurring."

hannah baxter domestic violence
Hannah Clarke and her three kids were killed by her estranged husband on Wednesday. Image: Facebook.
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Hannah also suffered from sexual abuse, with her husband forcing her to have sex with him every night, her family said.

"If she didn't [have sex with him] he would make the next day unbearable for the kids," Nathaniel said.

The Clarke family held up what they could save from Hannah after she passed.

"My sister was so badly burnt that the only thing they could do for memorabilia of her was a footprint,"  Nathaniel tearfully said.

"So we are wanting the symbol of her foot somehow to be a symbol for her and her legacy. We want to try and start something to help women who are in this situation who have suffered domestic abuse, mentally, physically, sexually,"

They say more needs to be done to ensure victims are better protected from their abuser.

"The system's broken," said Nathaniel, adding that Hannah and her three children were "the best humans".

Lloyd Clarke added that with the symbol of the footprint, he wants to start a movement to help victims of domestic violence, called "small steps for Hannah".

He added that his daughter bravely escaped the car and gave a detailed report to the medical staff on scene with burns covering 97 per cent of her body.

Her mother continued: "To the end she fought to make sure if he [Baxter] survived he got punished for doing that to her babies. She was so brave."

- With AAP

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Feature Image: Facebook. 


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