"Burn in hell you dog bitch."

"Die you c---."

"Someone should kill you. Put you on the f---ing map."

"Look at you ... using the deaths of women and children just to promote your own agenda. I don't know who is sicker; you or the perpetrators of those crimes."

THESE are just some of the vile messages I received after launching the Australian Femicide Map that has been viewed almost 100,000 times in little over a week.

I don't know the people who sent me these messages and to tell you the truth, I hope I never will.

But I would like them to know that their abuse and threats will not deter me from continuing this important work.

I have spent a good two years researching and writing the stories of more than 1100 women and kids lost to violence.

These stories are posted on The RED HEART Campaign's Memorial to Women and Children Lost to Violence.

The Australian Femicide Map is an interactive version of the memorial that allows users to search for victims and read their stories while providing an overview of where violent deaths are taking place.

Within 24 hours of the map going live, it had 50,000 views and that has doubled in the past eight days.

While the map has gained traction that I never expected, it also saw an outpouring of unprecedented vitriol.

I have been inundated with messages from angry strangers telling me I am wrong for not including male victims; I am unnecessarily highlighting male violence to make all men look bad; and I am using the deaths of women and children to push some sort of agenda that involves milking money from taxpayers.

Some of the keyboard warriors are polite.

Many are downright rude.

And a few of them? Well the police have their messages and I hope the clowns that sent them will be held to account.

 

A lot of the anger is fuelled by misinformation about who or what funds the project.

All of the work on RED HEART, the memorial and the map is done in my own time and it is paid for out of my own pocket, with a little support from family and friends.

I can categorically inform Australia that I do not get any money from governments, businesses, charities or the community.

I am not milking the "domestic violence cash cow" or taking dosh from unwary taxpayers, as prominent commentators like Mark Latham insist.

Domestic violence deaths figure highly on the map, and that is no surprise as most women and children who die a violent death do so in a family abuse situation.

But the map also offers a broader look at murders and manslaughters in Australia.

If you take the time to peruse the map, you will find it contains the stories of women and children killed by males or females - regardless of the perpetrator's relationship to the victim.

In other words, there are victims of stranger violence, terrorism, domestic violence and extreme neglect recorded.

The map is far from complete, with an estimated 1000-plus victims to be added over the coming months.

The work is slow going because accuracy is key to its success and that means extensive research of newspaper archives (both online and hard copies) and of coroner and appeal court judgments.

My aim is to record all femicides and child deaths from white settlement to now - no woman or child victim will be left out if I can help it.

The map currently shows a swathe of violent deaths in metropolitan and key regional centres in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, NSW, ACT and Queensland but only a few in the Northern Territory, Tasmania, remote areas of Queensland and Western Australia and in the islands off our coastline.

This has resulted in many detractors claiming I am whitewashing violence by deliberately only recording the deaths of Caucasians.

This is not the case at all - there are victims from many varied backgrounds including Muslims, Asians, Africans, transgender women and indigenous Australians.

I do admit that the map does not reflect ABS data that shows indigenous women die at higher rates than non-indigenous women.

The map really should show more indigenous victims in the NT and remote WA, SA and Queensland but sadly, the deaths of these women are rarely recorded publicly.

This makes it very hard to trace their killings and that lack of information is the only reason why there are so few victims in these areas of the map.

I am looking to work with indigenous organisations to ensure first Australians are commemorated alongside their white and multicultural sisters.

Where possible, I reach out to family members to ensure they know their loves one will be added to the map (and memorial) and 99 per cent of them fully support the project.

The map is not based on statistics - it is a collection of stories highlighting women and children who deserved to live long, safe and happy lives but were never given the chance.

Yes, it would be more efficient to create a statistics-based project, but I believe these women and kids are more than numbers.

Some of the more than 1000 women and children commemorated on The RED HEART Campaign's  Memorial to Women and Children Lost to Violence and the Australian Femicide Map.
Some of the more than 1000 women and children commemorated on The RED HEART Campaign's Memorial to Women and Children Lost to Violence and the Australian Femicide Map.

The map is not designed to paint all men as perpetrators of violence, but there is just no shying away from the fact that most people who are killed in Australia die at the hands of males. And that means most of the victims will have lost their lives to male violence.

"But what about male victims?" has been a frequent - and very important - question since the map went live.

It is vital for male victims of violence to be recognised and if I had the time and the money I would be the first person to do this.

Men are murdered at four times the rate of women in Australia, so that means there are potentially 8000 adult male victims of violence whose stories need to be recorded.

I am one person, so I cannot possibly document all those lives.

However, if someone is keen to undertake this intense project, I am more than happy to provide advice and support to get it off the ground.

Every red heart on the map represents a woman or a child who deserves to have the story of their lives and deaths documented - for now, for the future and for their loved ones.

But most importantly, for the possibility that their deaths may inspire those in danger to seek help and encourage people who are violent to find a better way of living.

That's something, the trolls will never understand.

News Corp journalist Sherele Moody is the recipient of 2017 Clarion and Walkley Our Watch journalism excellence awards for her coverage of domestic violence issues. Sherele is also the founder of The RED HEART Campaign and the creator of the Femicide Australia Map.

The online editorial team would like to voice their support for Sherele and the amazing, important, and urgent work she is doing and we condemn wholeheartedly those who attack her. 

For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

News Corp Australia

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