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Domestic violence victim Hannah Clarke named one of Marie Claire’s Women of the Year

Queensland mum Hannah Clarke has been posthumously honoured as one of Australia’s Women of the Year after she was killed along with her three young children by her estranged partner. Hannah was on the morning school run when estranged husband Rowan Baxter, 42, jumped into the passenger seat of her car and doused the family…

Queensland mum Hannah Clarke has been posthumously honoured as one of Australia’s Women of the Year after she was killed along with her three young children by her estranged partner.

Hannah was on the morning school run when estranged husband Rowan Baxter, 42, jumped into the passenger seat of her car and doused the family in petrol in a suburban Brisbane street on February 19.

He set them all on fire before telling people in the street not to help. He then took his own life.

The children, Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, died in the car while Hannah jumped from the driver’s seat screaming: “He’s poured petrol on me.”

She later died in hospital – but not before giving police detailed statements about the horrifying incident and the years of psychological abuse.

Now the 31-year-old has been recognised in the inaugural marie claire Women of the Year list for her bravery in bringing nationwide attention to a lesser known form of domestic abuse – coercive control.

RELATED: Queensland mum told police of ordeal before death

“Though she had burns to 97 per cent of her body, Hannah still managed to give police a clear and articulate statement,” Hannah’s mother, Sue Clarke, told marie claire. “She pushed herself to repeat it; the police were in awe. It was truly to make him pay – she was going to fight for her babies to the end.”

Before Hannah and the kids were killed, they had moved into her parents house to escape Baxter’s controlling behaviour.

In early January, Baxter was given a domestic violence order (DVO) by a Brisbane court for kidnapping one of their children and taking her interstate against Ms Clarke’s wishes.

The family claimed he stalked Hannah through her mobile and knew where she was at all times. Baxter also forced her to have sex with him every night.

Speaking to A Current Affair after Hannah’s death, her mum Sue described how Baxter “manipulated” her daughter, breached a DVO and tried to control her life.

Nicky Briger, marie claire editor, said Hannah displayed “incredible bravery and resilience during those last horrific hours of her life to ensure her story was told” and it was important her efforts were recognised.

“Because of Hannah, coercive control was given nationwide attention, and now her parents – Sue and Lloyd – are carrying on her legacy by fighting to make coercive control a crime in Australia,” she said.

The Small Steps 4 Hannah Foundation was launched in August to raise awareness about controlling relationships and in a bid to criminalise coercive control.

“Hannah’s story has already changed so many lives. People who didn’t understand what coercive control was have now realised they are actually in an abusive relationship,” her father, Lloyd Clarke, said.

Sue described Hannah as “proud to be a mum”, stating she was “simply doing what came naturally to her”.

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

Nicky Briger said Hannah Clarke was typical of the inspiring women who defined the 2020 Women Of the Year list – everyday Australians who are making a difference in these extraordinary times.

“It was a year when we needed everyday heroes, whether it was doctors and nurses on the COVID frontline, passionate activists fighting for justice, leaders taking decisive action, or entertainers who allowed us to escape,’’ she said.

“Everyone in our inaugural Women of the Year list has helped us get through what has been a year like no other.”

Other women who have been recognised in the magazine – which is on sale from November 12 – include frontline healthcare workers, bushfire fundraising hero and comedian Celeste Barber, Indigenous activist Apryl Day, international model and campaigner Adut Akech Bior and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

A coalition of legal advocates and domestic violence groups have been formed by marie claire and its publisher Are Media, demanding that Australian legislators criminalise coercive control. To support the campaign, sign the petition at coercivecontrol.com.au.

Continue the conversation @RebekahScanlan | rebekah.scanlan@news.com.au

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