Domestic violence victim Hannah Clarke burned alive by estranged husband named one of Marie Claire’s Women of the Year

As Sue and Lloyd Clarke approach their first Christmas without their daughter Hannah and three treasured grandchildren, at the top of their wishlist is a law that could have prevented their murders.

Hannah Clarke and her children - Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three - were doused in petrol and burned alive by her estranged husband on the morning school run in Brisbane in February.

Hannah hadn’t been physically abused, but had long been a victim of coercive control - a pattern of behaviours used to intimidate, humiliate, surveil, and control another person.

Before she died in a Brisbane hospital with burns to 97 per cent of her body, she forced herself to twice give police a statement naming her estranged husband as the family’s attacker.

BAXTER FAMILY DEATHS
Hannah Clarke's family have renewed their push for coercive control to be criminalised. Credit: AAP

“Hannah always protected her beautiful children and put them first. She did that in the best of times and in the worst of times,” Sue Clarke told AAP.

“At that stage Hannah didn’t know he had died. She was doing it to ensure that he paid for what he’d done.”

The horrific circumstances of the young family’s death and Hannah’s bravery in ensuring her estranged husband was held accountable made the 31-year-old a household name and sparked a national conversation about coercive control.

“Our whole family has been blown away by how the Australian people have rallied to ensure Hannah and the children aren’t forgotten,” Lloyd Clarke said.

“We’ve always known how strong and inspirational she is, and we’re so grateful that others recognise that too.”

Eight months after her death, Hannah has been posthumously named one of Marie Claire’s Women of the Year.

Hannah Clarke and her three children were killed in a domestic violence murder.
Hannah Clarke and her three children were killed in a domestic violence murder. Credit: AAP/Supplied

“People don’t realise the incredible bravery and resilience Hannah displayed during those last horrific hours of her life to ensure her story was told,” editor Nicky Briger said.

“Because of Hannah, coercive control was given nationwide attention.”

Tasmania is the only Australian jurisdiction that has laws criminalising coercive control, but an inquiry into criminalising the behaviour is underway in NSW.

Hannah Clarke and her three children, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey, died when their car was set alight by her estranged husband.
Hannah Clarke and her three children, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey, died when their car was set alight by her estranged husband. Credit: Facebook

This issue has vexed legislators, police and advocates for years, but it is time for other states to follow suit, the Clarkes say.

“Like all of us, they are learning what this behaviour is and working out how to respond ... (but) it’s time the law recognised the most dangerous and damaging aspect of domestic and family violence.”

They believe criminalising coercive control is pivotal in the national effort to reduce violence against women and prevent domestic violence homicides.

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