Quick escape
See Categories

Tragic warning signs before my sister’s brutal and senseless murder

August 27 2018 By Tarang Chawla, Our Watch Ambassador

My sister Nikita was brutally murdered by her partner in 2015.

Tarang Chawla and sister Niki Image

Before he became a cold-blooded killer, Niki’s partner was the type of man who routinely checked his girlfriend’s phone messages and dictated who she was “allowed” to see or be friends with. He made all the spending decisions.

Before her death, my sister’s partner distanced her from us — her family, and from her friends.

This kind of controlling behaviour is too often ignored, dismissed or excused away, but it shouldn’t be; it’s abusive and it may get worse.

It did for my sister.

Niki was a choreographer and performing artist with her own successful Bollywood dance business. She dreamt of sharing her unique talents with the world and one day working in Europe and America.

But her dream was shattered the night her partner decided to take her life in January 2015.

She was murdered while she slept at her home in Brunswick, in Melbourne’s inner north, in circumstances too similar to many other Australian women since.

I wouldn’t wish what happened to Niki and my family on anyone.

That is why I care about young people recognising the signs of abusive and controlling behaviour.

When people understand what is acceptable and what isn’t, we have a real chance of stopping abuse before it starts.

One of the things we know about violence against women is that there is typically an escalation. Men do not “just snap” or act violently “out of the blue”. There are signs of growing abuse and many of these signs can be non-physical, controlling behaviour.

Non-physical abuse is shockingly common. In Australia, one in four women have experienced this type of behaviour. This abuse can be financial, social, emotional or psychological, spiritual and technological, as well as stalking.

The trouble with identifying it is that it can be hard to spot, so we all must do our bit to educate ourselves.

We also know that one of the main drivers of violence against women is attitudes and behaviours that excuse or condone violence.

This means that we need to understand what violence is, and to be clear that controlling behaviour and non-physical abuse is a form of violence.

It’s not just people in relationships but also their friends who need to understand about non-physical abuse. If you see the signs of this happening to a friend, you can be in a position to help.

If we aren’t clear that this kind of behaviour is wrong, we’re more likely to stand by as it escalates for someone else. We all need to play a role in naming it and rejecting it.

Our Watch is this week launching it’s No Excuse for Abuse campaign to raise awareness of the important issue of non-physical abuse. For the sake of Niki, and all women, I hope people take this message on board.

This piece was originally published on news.com.au