Let the Simon Gittany verdict of guilty serve as an example.
It is clear that his murdered fiancee, Lisa Harnum, was in a controlling relationship of the worst kind.
The NSW Supreme Court heard evidence she was terrified and that she planned to escape from the clutches of Gittany. Only, when she did, he threw her over the balcony to her death, according to Justice Lucy McCallum.
Many may ask: why did Lisa Harnum not simply leave?
Unfortunately, it is not that simple.
Libby Davies, the head of White Ribbon Australia, told The Newsroom: “Controlling relationships often start off as a very romantic engagement between two people and it’s often not until well into the relationship that the manipulative, controlling behaviours start to surface and that starts what we call a cycle of violence.”
Simon Gittany controlled Lisa Harnum. He had installed hidden cameras to monitor her movements. It is a horrifying irony that they proved to be a part of his undoing.
“Controlling behaviours are about putting the woman down, making her feel inferior, making her feel shamed for the behaviours that she’s exhibiting, so it’s all part of that manipulative behaviour,” Ms Davies said.
The night she was murdered, Harnum planned to leave Gittany once and for all. The court heard that she had left a bag of belongings with her counsellor. She was that close to breaking free of him.
On the other side of the story is Gittany’s current girlfriend, Rachelle Louise, who shouted, “You’re wrong!” and had to be taken from the court room when Justice McCallum delivered her verdict.
Perhaps she too has fallen under Gittany’s controlling spell.
Joan Harnum, Lisa’s mother, told Fairfax Media: “I looked into the poor girl’s eyes and I could see unhappiness.
“I looked straight down at her one day and she just looked at me and I just felt so sorry for her. I saw the same look in my daughter’s eyes.”
White Ribbon Day, Australia’s campaign to stop violence against women, was on Monday. Police officers wore white ribbons in the court yesterday as the verdict was read.
Ms Davies said: “The Gittany case identifies what is the most abhorrent outcome, and that happens to at least one woman every week in Australia.”
May this tragic case serve as an illustration to the unwary of controlling relationships and their potential for evil. – Matthew Connellan, with additional reporting by Bianca Mureddu
Photo shows Lisa Harnum’s mother, Joan, addressing the media after yesterday’s verdict. Image of Lisa Harnum