The tragic death of 11-year-old Luke Batty propelled his mother Rosie into the media spotlight. It was also a wake-up call for all Australians about the very real dangers of domestic violence and abuse for families and communities.
On February 12 2014, Luke attended cricket practice in Melbourne. It would be the last time he would play his much-loved sport. His father, Greg Anderson, coerced the young boy away from his friends and coaches under the guise of wanting to help his son practice his cricket skills. There he fatally stabbed and beat his son to death only metres away from young children and their parents.
Luke’s distraught mother was left mourning her beloved only child but found the strength to address the media at the time to bring attention to her family’s plight. “I want to tell everybody, that family violence happens to everybody. No matter how nice your house is, how intelligent you are. It can happen to anyone, and everyone.”
Rosie Batty’s statement and her story would see her inadvertently become a hero and spokesperson for the campaign against domestic violence in Australia – eventually earning her the nation’s highest honour as Australian of the Year. She dedicated her award to her son: “To Luke, you did not die in vain, you will not be forgotten, you are beside me on this journey and with me every step of the way,” adding, “He is the reason I have found my voice, and I am able to be heard.”
Today on the one year anniversary of his death, Rosie shared this touching letter to her son with her social media supporters:
“I wake today and know a year has already passed since I saw you last. I think of that day a year ago now when we woke, laughed and joked about your hair and how your body was changing.
It was such a hot day and you headed off to school excited to be in Grade 6 and starting the new school year with your friends.
I surprised you by meeting you outside your classroom and you playfully pretended not to see me – not cool to hold hands with your mum so I grabbed you and gave you a playful hug and we chuckled together.
You didn’t want to go to cricket practice that night. You were too busy playing on your PS3 and feeling too lazy. But I did what a good mum does and made you follow through with your commitment to your cricket team as it was the last cricket practice for the season.
You were apprehensive about seeing your dad because you hadn’t seen him since returning from our holidays and you weren’t sure whether he would be there.
When we arrived we spotted your dad. He stood up with a huge smile and I knew it would be ok – he was in a good mood. You had a great time at practice and really enjoyed your dad being part of it all. Bowling to the other kids just like the other dads. It always made you happy to see your dad happy and to be joining in. He hadn’t done that for a while.
You were animated and pleased when you came over and spoke to me for the last time. You asked me if you could spend a few extra minutes with dad practising your cricket. You knew your cricket was improving and you were proud of how you had begun to play. It had all started to come together for you. Then I heard your father, ran to where you both were, which was only metres away and saw you injured and lying on the ground. I panicked and ran to get an ambulance – never to see you or speak to you again.
And now a year later I think of you from the moment I open my eyes until I lay my head back down on my pillow. I think of you every moment of every day. I dream about you and wake knowing that the dream I had is not as bad as the reality of waking to find that you’re still gone and can never return.
I miss you and still find it impossible to comprehend that I can never cuddle you and steal a kiss on your cheek whilst you’re asleep.
The house is quiet, something is missing. It’s you. I will always miss you my beautiful, handsome, intelligent and perfect little man. You always knew how much I loved you and you know that will never change. I will meet you again one day my little fella and it will be the biggest hug ever!”