The sister of Allison Baden-Clay has opened up about the extreme control her brother-in-law had over his wife before he murdered her and dumped her body in a creek.
It’s been 11 years since the Brisbane mother-of-three’s death shocked the nation when her body was found on a creek bank in April 2012 – 10 days after her husband reported her missing.
Real estate agent Gerard Baden-Clay had killed his wife, 43, so she wouldn’t find out he was cheating on her.
He was charged with her murder two months later and is now serving life imprisonment.
Vanessa Fowler has revealed a startling new insight into her sister’s unhappy 15-year marriage as she prepares to ramp up the coercive control campaign in her new role as co-chair of Queensland’s Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council.
She and her family discovered the horrific extent of Baden-Clay’s control over his wife during his murder trial after police found Allison’s personal journal.
Mum of three Allison Baden-Clay (pictured) was killed by her controlling husband in April 2012
The journal revealed Ms Baden-Clay often felt lonely being married to an unkind and insulting husband.
‘I’m not sure that she was aware of the level of control that he had over her,’ Ms Fowler told the Sunday Mail.
She doesn’t know if her sister would have ended the marriage even if she was more aware about coercive control, and may have opted to stay in the unhappy relationship for the sake of her three daughters,
Ms Baden-Clay was a gifted ballerina and an ambitious businesswoman with a flourishing career in human resources when she first met her husband.
Her family began to see the worrying signs of increasing control Baden-Clay gained over his wife after she had their first child.
‘She was a stay-at-home mum and I think that’s where most of the control started because he had her where he wanted her,’ Ms Fowler told the publication.
Gerard Baden-Clay and Allison Baden-Clay painted a picture of newlywed bliss on their wedding day. Worrying signs began to emerge after Allison had their first child
She recalled how Baden-Clay listened in on his wife’s conversations through the baby monitor, controlled their finances, deleted the numbers of her relatives on her mobile and blocked them from calling the home phone.
Allison hid her pain by putting on a brave face for others and was always smiling and well-dressed, making it hard for family and friends to pick up on the true extent of what was happening behind closed doors.
Ms Fowler looks forward to her new role as co-chair of the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council, which comes into effect on Tuesday.
She hopes to use the 12-month stint to educate and open up the public conversation about coercive control following a recent spate of tragic deaths of Queensland women.
‘I want to get the message out to our young people, educate people to change the way they think about gender and talk to them about recognising the signs of coercive control,’ Ms Fowler said.
Allison Baden-Clay’s sister Vanessa Fowler (pictured) is the new co-chair of Queensland’s Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council
Ms Fowler also continues to run the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation set up in her sister’s honour to raise funds for the development of domestic and family violence programs.
Ms Fowler was appointed in her new role by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who has always admired her great courage and tenacity.
‘Having suffered the heartbreak and the dreadful loss from her sister Allison’s murder at the hands of her husband, Vanessa stepped up as a passionate advocate for all the victims and survivors of the shocking scourge of domestic violence,’ the Premier said in a statement.
‘The strength that she and her family have shown in the wake of such a tragedy is inspiring.
‘Her measured and calm manner reassures us – that by working together we can and will bring about change for the better.’
‘Vanessa brings a whole new perspective to the Council’s vital role of promoting greater community action to stamp out the scourge of domestic and family violence.
‘She is a person of outstanding calibre and with a passionate commitment to help drive the on-going roll-out of our critically important domestic and family violence reforms.’
Allison Baden-Clay (pictured) put a brave face in public to mask her unhappy marriage
Allison Baden-Clay was reported missing by her husband 10 days before her body was found dumped on a creek bank. Pictured is the Baden-Clay residence in Brosbane’s semi-rural outskirts
Baden-Clay was initially found guilty of his wife’s murder in 2014 but had his conviction downgraded to manslaughter in the Court of Appeal after his lawyers argued he could have unintentionally killed her during an argument.
Queensland’s Director of Public Prosecutions immediately launched an appeal to be considered by the nation’s highest court.
The five-judge bench in the High Court unanimously ordered Baden-Clay’s original murder conviction to be reinstated.
Baden-Clay was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum jail term of 15 years before he is eligible for parole.
He has since spent his life at Wolston Correctional Centre in Wacol among other murderers, sex offenders and criminals
He bonded with fellow inmate, millionaire businessman John William Chardon, 73, who was jailed for 15 years over the manslaughter of his wife Novy before Chardon died of a suspected heart attack last October.
If you or anyone you know needs support, call 1800RESPECT or Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636.
Vanessa Fowler (left) will take over from Kay McGrath (right) as co-chair of the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council. Also pictured is Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
WHAT IS COERCIVE CONTROL?
Coercive control is an ongoing and insidious form of domestic violence which is less often spoken about or recognisable.
A victim of coercive control often has their rights and civil liberties slowly stripped in a manner that mightn’t appear as aggressive as physical abuse.
The abuser uses strategies to control their victim in aspects of their lives, from telling them who they can and can’t speak to, where they can go, what they can wear and how they can spend their money.
The abuse is illegal in several countries, but has been largely overlooked in Australia.
The primary indicators of coercive control according to healthline are:
Isolating you from your support system – this includes suggesting joint social media accounts, moving you away from your family, monitoring your phone calls or convincing you that your family or friends hate you
Monitoring your activity throughout the day – this includes setting up cameras in the house, connecting your phone to tracking apps
Denying you freedom and autonomy – this includes discouraging you from going to work or school, socialising, restricting your access to transportation or constantly taking your phone
Gaslighting – this includes a need to always be right and to ensure the victim acknowledges that they are in the wrong or mistaken
Name-calling and putting you down – this includes trying to shame the victim, make them feel self conscious
Limiting your access to money – taking control of banking, encouraging a joint back account, setting ‘allowances’, hiding financial resources, strictly monitoring spending
Reinforcing traditional gender roles Turning your kids against you – this includes belittling you in front of children, including them in arguments
Controlling aspects of your health and body – this includes monitoring how much you eat, sleep, drink, what medication you consume, making you exercise or limiting your exercise
Making jealous accusations Regulating your sexual relationship – this includes making blanket demands about how much or how little sex is involved in the relationship, refusing to wear protection or demanding photographs or videos
Threatening your children or pets – this includes making threats against their safety, threatening to report a victim to authorities and lying, making decisions without speaking with the victim