October has been hell for Australian women
"I can only imagine the rage and fear women feel to see women die doing everyday mundane things like walking home. Stop blaming women. Make men the issue."
Toyah Cordingley published this comment on social media in June.
She was reflecting on the alleged rape and murder of comedian Eurydice Dixon as she walked home from a gig in Melbourne and the violent death of 28-year-old Chinese woman Qi Yu in Sydney.
On Sunday, 24-year-old Toyah took her pooch for a stroll by the sea at Wangetti Beach, north of Cairns.
The following day, in this remote tropical paradise, the "beautiful young soul" was found dead.
Toyah had been murdered and police believe she may also have been raped. Her killer has not yet been found but statistically speaking, that person is likely to a man.
Toyah's murder means nine Australian women have been killed in the past three weeks - she is the 65th woman lost to murder or manslaughter since January 1, 2018. Eighteen children have also been killed this year.
I have been counting dead women and children for two years now and I can say with complete sincerity that October, 2018, has been the most violent month in Australia in that time.
It comes as no surprise to me that Toyah spoke publicly about violence - and about male violence in particular - in the months before her death.
Toyah's worries about women's safety reflect the experience of every female I know - there is not one woman in my circle who does not discuss violence on a regular basis.
Long gone are the days when our conversations centred around the mundane - housework, career, fashion, beauty trends, entertainment and the like.
Instead, women are scared about their own and their loved ones' safety because violence is our new normal - no longer is it safe to walk our dogs by the seaside in the country; to stroll home late at night along city streets; or to go about our normal routines in our homes.
These days we talk about the things we do to stay safe: Grasping our keys between our fingers, ready to scratch anyone who attacks; not wearing certain clothes; having triple-0 ready to dial in case something happens; crossing the road to avoid groups of blokes as they whistle and yell crude things at us; steering clear of dark and lonely corners of our community; checking in before we leave and after we arrive; locking our doors and windows; and preparing safety plans if there is a risk of domestic violence.
We talk about what society needs to do to end violence. We talk about the role good men play in helping reframe the attitudes and actions of bad men, like calling out toxic masculinity and sexism when they see it.
We breathe sighs of relief when magistrates refuse bail to accused women bashers and rapists.
We plead for 24-hour monitoring of dangerous domestic violence perpetrators.
We lament the lack of lengthy jail terms for those convicted of sexual and physical violence.
And of course, we wonder when governments will invest more money and resources into preventing violence and supporting victims.
What interests me most about these conversations? The people who are not contributing to them.
I'm not suggesting he issue a national apology to women, but surely Prime Minister Scott
Morrison can spare some time to talk to the nation about the shocking toll violence is having on our community.
Meanwhile, the federal Minister for Women Kelly O'Dwyer seems to be missing in action right when we need her support the most.
Surely women's safety is a key part of her ministerial portfolio.
Yet, other than a speech at the Stop It At the Start domestic violence advertisement launch on October 2, Ms O'Dwyer has remained tight-lipped on the issue of male violence.
She hasn't even acknowledged the loss of nine women in October.
Perhaps, Mr Morrison and Ms O'Dwyer reckon there are no votes in dead women? I'm ready and waiting for them to prove me wrong on this.
And what of White Ribbon - the nation's key charity dedicated to helping men stop other men from being violent?
Instead of making a strong public statement about the toll male violence has taken on our community this year, its CEO Tracy McLeod Howe is too busy fixing the damage caused when she decided to dump - then dramatically reinstate - the organisation's support of women having access to abortions.
What will it actually take for these people to say a word or two about the women lost to violence this month and this year?
So here we are. Another day. Another life lost. Another day. Another angry rant from an angry journalist and feminist asking when will the country wake up to this national crisis in our homes, our streets, our parks, our beaches, our everywhere?
What is it going to take to get our leaders talking and acting on the crisis that has cost the lives of 65 women and 18 kids since January 1, 2018?
There is a massive problem with male violence in Australia and sooner, or later, you or someone you know could become a victim of it.
We women will continue our conversations on this issue, but we know, no matter what we say or how loud we say it, we are simply preaching to the converted.
Until our leaders grow some ovaries and decide to tackle this problem head on, the body count will continue to rise.
News Corp journalist Sherele Moody is the recipient of the 2018 BandT Women in Media Social Change Maker Award and has Clarion and Walkley Our Watch journalism excellence awards for her work reducing violence against women and children. She is also the founder of The RED HEART Campaign and the creator of the Femicide Australia Map.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.