‘I am a survivor’: Hannah Clarke’s bravery as she fled her abusive husband

Hannah Clarke and her children, Aaliyah, Lainah and Trey, were murdered by her estranged husband in February.

Hannah Clarke and her children, Aaliyah, Lainah and Trey, were murdered by her estranged husband in February. Photo: Facebook

Heartbreaking Instagram posts written by slain Brisbane mother Hannah Clarke have revealed her dreams of setting an example to her daughters as “a survivor, not a victim” of domestic violence.

Friends of the Ms Clarke, who was murdered by her estranged husband along with their three children in a suburban street on Wednesday, have shared with The New Daily her posts, written just weeks ago.

“I am a strong Strong Woman. I don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself nor will I ever let anyone mistreat me again,” she wrote.

“I don’t respond to people who dictate to me or try and bring me down. I am a survivor not a victim. I am in control of my own life and there is nothing I can’t achieve. My girls will grow up being strong women that understand their worth.

The post included the hashtags #wegotthis #strongwomen #daughters #strength #journey #longroadahead #ouryear.

hannah clarke baxter abuse

Hannah Clarke’s Instagram profile.

They also revealed her 10-year battle to escape her controlling husband, Rowan Baxter, who they claim punished Ms Clarke when she refused to have sex daily by not allowing her to go to the gym or take the kids to the beach.

They say Mr Baxter had threatened his previous partner that he would self-harm if she ever left him and took their son.

The new revelations came as Queensland police removed a senior Queensland detective from the murder probe amid outrage at his “victim-blaming” comments following the deaths of Ms Clarke, 31, and children Aaliyah, 6, Lainah, 4 and Trey, 3.

In an official update on the inquiry on Thursday, Detective Inspector Thompson said police needed to keep an open mind as to whether the deaths of Ms Clarke and her three young children were a case of a “husband being driven too far by issues” or a woman and children suffering extreme domestic violence.

He noted the outpouring of anger and grief following the deaths, and urged anyone with information about the family to come forward.

“Is this an issue of a woman suffering significant domestic violence and her and her children perishing at the hands of the husband?” he said.

“Or is this an instance of a husband being driven too far by issues that he’s suffered by certain circumstances into committing acts of this form?”

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said Inspector Thompson’s remarks were “victim-blaming at its worst” . He had offered to stand down from the inquiry on Friday, she said.

“And I totally agreed with that,” she said she had told him.

“In fairness to Mark and myself and the agency, we want to remove the noise and concentrate on the issue.

“There is a mother and three children who have been murdered and I want to concentrate on that.”

Ms Carroll said Inspector Thompson was “distraught and gutted” and “cannot believe how he has phrased that”.

Ms Clarke, 31, died in hospital on Wednesday night, after she and her three children were caught in a terrifying car inferno when Mr Baxter ambushed the family with a knife and poured petrol on them as they headed off to school.

The children died in the flaming car. Police say Mr Baxter died on the footpath beside it, from self-inflicted wounds.

Since Ms Clarke and the children died, it has emerged that Mr Baxter, 42, had an extensive history of family violence and had been ordered by police not to come within 20 metres of his estranged wife.

Queensland Police said the family had previously been referred to support services, and they had received reports of domestic violence over several months.

Friend Manja Whaley said Ms Clarke took some time to accept she was a victim of domestic violence, even after the restraining order.

“I work in domestic violence … so when she first confided in me we spoke about the violence and for such a long time she didn’t believe she was in a domestic violence relationship,” she said.

“There was the checking of her accounts on Facebook, the accusations of her cheating … she would get dressed and she would be picking up her clothes and he would say things to her ‘like look at your stomach, that’s just disgusting’.”

Ms Clarke’s family has also spoken out about her desperate attempts to end her marriage. They called Mr Baxter a “heartless monster”, and said Ms Clarke lived in fear of being abducted by him.

Detective Inspector Thompson’s comments were immediately condemned by domestic violence campaigners, including Betty Taylor from the Red Rose Foundation and Angela Lynch, the head of the Women’s Legal Service Queensland.

“It’s giving legitimacy to what has occurred, it’s victim blaming,” Ms Lynch said.

“It’s saying that she might have caused this through her own actions. It plays into very dangerous ideas in the community around victim blaming and a whole range of myths about the family law system.”

Former Australian of the year, Rosie Batty, also condemned the murders on Friday – describing domestic violence as “the most pressing issue of terrorism our society faces”.

“A loving parent never considers murder as ever being an option or a solution,” she said.

“No one is ‘driven’ to murder, no matter the circumstances or situation they find themselves in. Murder is a decision that is deliberate and driven by the need to exact revenge and achieve the ultimate act of power and control.

Meanwhile, Ms Batty called for more leadership on Australia’s “epidemic” of domestic violence.

“This is the most pressing issue of terrorism our society faces – where at least one woman a week is murdered,” she said.

“It is too painful and confronting for us to even face and acknowledge how many children are murdered by an abusive parent, but we do know that at least one in four children is affected by violence in their home.”

If you, or someone you know, needs help contact:

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Lifeline 131 114

-with AAP

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