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One of the biggest news stories this week in Australia has been the release of convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby.  However I don’t want to comment about that. Instead I want to comment about the other biggest story – the sentencing of Simon Gittany. Mr Gittany was found guilty of throwing his 30 yr old fiancée Lisa Cecilia Harnum off their 15th floor apartment balcony in a fit of rage when she tried to leave him. Simon Gittany was sentenced today to a total of 26 yrs in prison, 18 years non-parole.

Last Sunday night the rival news program to 60 minutes ran a story to talk about Simon Gittany and interview his current girlfriend, Rachelle Louise. The story detailed Mr Gittany’s past dealings with the law, his relationship with Lisa, an interview with Lisa’s mother, and an interview with the counsellor Lisa saw just 8 days before her death. It was chilling watching this story of a handsome man with his beautiful fiancée and learning about how he controlled and abused her. When the reporter made a comment that Mr Gittany didn’t like Lisa to wear high heels to the shops, Rachelle responded with,” Well, he doesn’t like me to wear high heels to the shops either,” shaking her head slightly in a “duh” kind of way as if this was normal.

Then my favourite site MamaMia http://www.mamamia.com.au/news/rachelle-louise-simon-gittany/ ran an opinion piece about how Rachelle appeared to be brainwashed into believing her lover could not have committed the crime. To me she seemed articulate, well presented and intelligent. The same as Lisa Harnum. How did these women end up with this man? One of the comments left below summed it up perfectly with this:

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I realised that this woman could’ve been talking about my ex (the one from ‘the break-up from hell). He was incredibly charming, passionate, intelligent, and I honestly believed I would marry him and have children with him. He was honest and had told me about his difficult past and had also admitted that he had once broken a window at his previous girlfriends house (in an apologetic manner and was quick to point out that he had paid for the damage). This didn’t give me pause at all. I was an intelligent, successful, came from an amazing family who love me dearly, self confident, 30-31 yr old woman when we dated. I never feared for my safety with him but on 2 occasions he did scare me with his temper:

1) The morning I was to run a 10k race at Gold Coast Marathon and I began to stress out as we were running late. I’m the first to admit that stressed B is not fun…I’m whiny, grumpy, prone to yelling, can get teary at nothing – you get the picture. So here I am stressing getting my whine on about being late for the run and he starts screaming at me. I immediately became silent, sitting in the passenger seat trying not to cry, as he was acting to aggressively. Needless to say that was my worst run time ever 10k in an 1hr 10mins.

2) The night when we were arguing (after we broke up) and I didn’t back down when he began to call my loved ones names. We yelled and screamed at each other (yep I was screaming too) until he get right up in my space toe to toe and stared into my eyes clenching and un-clenching his hands acting aggressively. He didn’t hit me but he did throw items of mine down the hall in a fit of anger.

It’s funny even though he was so horrid to me I measure the early days of our relationship (the passion, the honesty, the sharing of stories) against others. I have to learn to not do this as to be honest it isn’t that normal to have someone want to move in with you within 3 months of dating, for them to pressure you to give up your job to move a 4.5 hour drive away from your family and friends before the time you had agreed on, for someone to criticise how you dressed (he wanted me to be sexier), how you talked and what you weighed.

My beautiful friend R has experienced physical abuse in a past relationship. I didn’t know at the time how bad it was and there is a big part of me that is so disappointed in myself that I didn’t insist she leave him at once. But I was scared that if I did this I would push her more towards him and would loose her altogether. Thankfully she found the strength to leave him and has moved onwards and upwards since.

To Lisa Harnum’s family you have my deepest sympathy – this beautiful woman was taken from you far too soon and in the cruellest of circumstances. Simon Gittany was sentenced today to a total of 26 yrs in prison, 18 years non-parole. It is small comfort for the Harnum family but it brings some relief that this monster will not be able to harm anyone else.

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