Yingying Zhou, also known as Vivian, was allegedly killed by her estranged partner this month. Her 8-year-old son was believed to have been in the car at the time. Picture: Supplied
Yingying Zhou, also known as Vivian, was allegedly killed by her estranged partner this month. Her 8-year-old son was believed to have been in the car at the time. Picture: Supplied

Where's the support for kids of murdered mums?

Another young mother has died in Australia this week and I cannot get her - or her children - out of my head.

The woman - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - died from horrific injuries allegedly inflicted in her Brisbane home on September 25.

My mind is a jumbled, angry mess thinking about her five-year-old daughter and the fact that this brave little girl had to dialled triple-0, desperately seeking help for her mum whose lifeless bloody and beaten body lay nearby.

By some small mercy the children in the home did not witness the killing, with the man accused of the murder allegedly locking the girl and her two-year-old brother in a bedroom.

This man - the woman's partner and father of the kids - eventually released the youngsters from the room, allegedly telling the little girl to make the phone call.

I must stress that while the man is charged with murder, he has not yet faced trial and is considered innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

When children witness the murder of a loved one, the perpetrators inflict a cruel and callous form of psychological violence on their young minds. Picture: iStock
When children witness the murder of a loved one, the perpetrators inflict a cruel and callous form of psychological violence on their young minds. Picture: iStock

This is the 51st Australian woman allegedly killed as a result of murder or manslaughter this year - almost all of these women have died as a result of alleged male and domestic violence.

Children witnessing the deaths of their mothers is a common theme in family abuse murders.

Yet Australia has no publicly funded support services specifically to help kids cope with the psychological fall out of seeing violent deaths.

This lack of child-focused support is particularly disturbing because the children in this latest case are far from the only kids who have witnessed the deadly repercussions of alleged domestic and family violence.

MORE FROM SHERELE MOODY: When I was a child my stepfather killed a little girl

Just a little over a week ago, Yingying (Vivian) Zhou was stabbed to death in her car by her husband.

After killing Vivian, Wei Hu ended his own life.

Their 8-year-old son was in the car.

About 20 years ago, an 11-year-old Gold Coast girl woke to her mum screaming. After finding her mum's body, she had to call triple-0 for help.

In Victoria in 2016, three children were present as their dad gouged their mum's eye out before flushing it down the toilet.

They also saw him cut the woman's genitalia and hands using a meat cleaver, knife and scissors and were there when he wrapped her body in plastic and threw her away - like garbage - in a park.

The children were all aged under 6.

The crime was so horrific that the sentencing judge ordered the parents' names be suppressed to try in some small way to reduce the trauma of them being constantly reminded by media reports of the crimes.

We all know that the killing of women is preventable, abhorrent and needless.

When children are witness to these slayings, perpetrators inflict a particularly cruel, brutal and callous form of psychological violence on their young minds.

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Betty Taylor is one of the people behind the Red Rose Foundation, which works to end domestic violence murders in Australia, while holding public rallies whenever a person is killed at the hands of a loved one.

She says the sad reality of children witnessing homicide "remains in the too hard basket" for Australian governments.

"While it is tragic to consider the homicide of children, there also exists another group of children who are largely forgotten by society and who live with the scars of witnessing one parent murder the other," Ms Taylor says.

"It's is something that is still largely unrecognised and unnamed."

The children who witness a parent murder another parent are put in the ‘too hard basket’ by the government. Picture: iStock
The children who witness a parent murder another parent are put in the ‘too hard basket’ by the government. Picture: iStock

The impact of these crimes on young growing minds is life-altering.

There is the initial shock from the killing and the grief of knowing one parent is in the ground and the other is in prison, Ms Taylor says.

The children also have to leave their homes because these are now crime scenes steeped in blood and horror.

These kids grow up suffering a range of impacts including anxiety, depression and PTSD.

"They may also suffer aggression, nightmares and a heightened sense of vulnerability," Ms Taylor says.

Our governments do not provide adequate funding to ensure women and children experiencing abuse are fully supported across a range of areas including ensuring the one thing we all deserve - being able to live safely in our own homes.

MORE FROM SHERELE MOODY: Seven days, six dead women. When will we wake up?

The Federal Government will spend just $328 million over three years on support and other services for those in violence crisis.

As far as I am aware, not one dollar of this has been set aside to care for children who witness the murder of their parents.

Sadly, intimate partner violence and homicides continue unabated in our country ensuring far too many children witness brutality that they will never un-see.

Watching, hearing or being aware of one parent killing the other must surely be a special kind of torture and an unmitigated example of insidious and horrific form of child abuse.

These children have a long road of healing ahead of them now that their innocence is gone and their childhoods destroyed.

We can't change their stories, but with the right support we can give them the tools they need to survive and to thrive despite the horrors they've endured.

News Corp journalist Sherele Moody has multiple journalism excellence awards for her work highlighting violence in Australia. Sherele is also a 2019 Our Watch fellow and the founder of The RED HEART Campaign and the Australian Femicide & Child Death Map.

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636. The Suicide Call Back service is on 1300 659 467.