Man’s powerful Facebook post about domestic violence goes viral


Actor Toby Francis has shared a Facebook post detailing how he was driven to seek help for his anger after a male friend called him out.

He urged other men in similar situations to do the same before things escalated, writing: “We must be better men.”

On Wednesday three children Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, were found dead inside a car in Brisbane’s Camp Hill.

Their mother Hannah Clarke, 31, is said to have screamed “he’s poured petrol on me” when she jumped from the burning car and later died from her injuries in hospital.

According to bystanders the father Rowan Baxter, 42, jumped into his estranged wife’s car when she was on the school run and set it on fire, yelling at people not to help and then taking his own life.

Witnesses say Rowan Baxter jumped into Hannah Clarke’s car, setting it alight and killing her and their three children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey before taking his own life.Source:News Corp Australia

Ms Clarke’s family has since said Baxter was a “master manipulator” and “monster” who she had been locked in a custody battle with.

The story motivated Toby to bravely share his experience in a bid to raise awareness about domestic violence and how it begins.

In his lengthy Facebook post, Toby recalled how he had been in a car with his friend Troy explaining how a fight with his partner Lauren had ended in him “smashing something”.

Toby wrote that at the time his and Lauren’s fights would often see him “get angry and break things”.

But when Toby told Troy about their latest fight his friend had an unexpected reaction.

“He told me, in no uncertain terms, that what I was doing was violence that would one day turn into me pushing Lauren, which would one day turn into me punching Lauren, which would one day turn into me hitting our kids,” Toby wrote.

Ms Clarke’s family has since described Baxter as a ‘monster’.

Ms Clarke’s family has since described Baxter as a ‘monster’.Source:News Corp Australia

“And it might stop there but maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe one day it would turn into the kind of thing we have seen happen just recently where a man set a car alight with his children and their mother inside.”
Toby wrote how at first his friend’s reaction left him feeling “shocked and resistant”, believing he wasn’t capable of such violent acts, but “what Troy said wouldn’t leave my mind”.

“So I read up on it that night. I read stories from domestic violence survivors, I read articles and advice written by experts who deal with this sort of thing. And Troy was right. Abusive words escalate, smashing stuff escalates, pushing escalates, punching escalates. Murder doesn’t. Murder is the final escalation,” Toby wrote.

“I was gobsmacked. Sad. Confused. I was a good man. I loved my partner. I would love our kids. I would never – had never – laid a hand on her. But everything I read began similarly, ‘He always used to get angry, and then he started punching holes in the wall/smashing plates/slamming doors.’ These stories ended with violence. Always. Because, I realised, they started with violence.”

Toby wrote how he feared his behaviour could have escalated into a situation like the tragic event in Brisbane this week.

Toby wrote how he feared his behaviour could have escalated into a situation like the tragic event in Brisbane this week.Source:News Corp Australia

Toby said he realised that “domestic violence is born from small changes in already violent acts” and doesn’t discriminate between “good” and “bad” men.

“Good men are only a couple of hundred incremental changes away from being bad men,” he wrote.

“Which is why good men don’t think they can become bad men and bad men don’t think they’ve changed.”

Toby said that unless he had changed his behaviour would have either stayed the same or escalated – and he will never know what could have been.

“Obviously, I don’t know what would have happened if Troy hadn’t called me on my behaviour. Maybe none of it would have escalated,” he wrote.

“That’s not what the research says is likely but maybe I am different. Maybe I just would have smashed plates forever. But that’s the point, we don’t know where that ends.”

Toby said he dealt with his anger by getting professional help, leading to a diagnosis of ADHD in his late twenties that helped him realise he “wasn’t processing arguments the way I was told I should be”.

He urged others who felt the same as him to get help.

“If any man is reading this and feels ashamed that they do the same thing then I hope you know I felt ashamed too. I still feel ashamed about it,” Toby wrote.

Toby’s post has since attracted thousands of shares and hundreds of comments, with people praising his powerful words.

“Thank you for sharing this Toby. Men can change. We can get better. We have to. For everyone’s sake,” one person wrote.

“This is how we move forward. Appreciate you sharing such a personal insight,” another commented.

“That is one of the most profound things I’ve read in a very long time. It should be taught in schools. There are so many who would see the truth in this, who have seen it, experienced it. But you articulated it for others to have their eyes opened. Bravo brave Toby.”

“Best item I’ve read on the internet today. I hope this gets to the people that need it.”

“It’s so good to hear men speaking up like this about DV. We’d like to think that those guys are just monsters, but the reality is that they’re just human beings capable of committing evil just as we all are.”

“Finally a man who has said the bleeding obvious … domestic violence and any bullying behaviour is not perpetrated by good or bad men or women … it doesn’t matter … but the idea that in good or justified in how I behave. Well that is the issue.”

News.com.au has contacted Toby Francis for further comment.





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