Don Hennessy, who has worked with male perpetrators of domestic violence, believes Clodagh Hawe, 39, lived a very controlled life.
Clodagh, a national school teacher from Cavan was murdered in her home last Monday, by her husband Alan Hawe, 40, along with her children Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and Ryan, 6.
“Because of the meticulous nature of the murders, they were at a particular time, more than one note was prepared, she didn’t get to write a note, so what I believe is that this woman was very controlled,” said Mr Hennessy.
“Her life would have looked normal. She had a full-time job. By the sounds of it, she was a dedicated teacher. She was rearing three boys. Only when the door was closed in the home, were things different.”
Mr Hennessy is the author of How He Gets into Her Head: The Mind of the Male Intimate Abuser.
In terms of what is going on in the mind of a man who kills his partner and children, he said it comes down to control.
“The man feels a) he knows the solution to the problem, b) he is arrogant enough to do it his way, and c) his children and wife have no say in the solution,” he stated.
These killers are often perceived as pillars of the community and even their partners remain loyal to that image of them.
“Outside of the house they aren’t aggressive, that’s the skill of these people.
“In the clubs, at GAA, in the community and the church he is the pillar of society and behind the hall door it’s a different story. And the partner remains loyal to him and that image,” Mr Hennessy told the Irish Examiner.
He added that many women live in deeply abusive relationships, where their existence is extremely controlled, and yet they are not physically assaulted. Therefore, it is difficult for friends, family or neighbours to see any signs.
“If you live in a semi-detached house a neighbour can hear the shouting or the verbal abuse, which is obvious, but there’s very little to be seen outside the home,” said Mr Hennessy.
He explained that the basic building block for any abuse is mind-control. This brings the victim to a place where they can no longer ascertain whether they are being abused or causing the abuse.
“Abuse is always two-fold. Only when the first step is put in place, the mind-control, where she now believes she is the cause and the solution to the problems and she spends her whole existence trying to measure up, she then loses her instinctive ability to know the difference between what is right and what is wrong,” he said.
He added that men who kill their partners and family carry a sense of entitlement.
“There is a sense of entitlement. There’s a sense of arrogance, that they are God of their own world.
“Of offenders I have met, they have no remorse, absolutely none. They have an explanation for it, it is not their fault.”
He also said that it can be difficult for people to reconcile the man they knew publicly with the act that he has committed privately.
“I meet women every day who are threatened. It’s being ignored because people have a viewpoint of the man, the ‘he’d never do anything like that.’
“Nobody who attacks a child’s mother can be regarded as a good father.”
Commenting specifically on the murder-suicide in Cavan, Mr Hennessy said we must not minimise it as a society.
“It is far more important to focus on the murders than the suicide here. He took their right to life from them. They had absolutely no say in it, he had absolutely no right to do it.
“The first thing that needs to happen is honesty, what we are getting is fudge,” he said.
“Some people need to sit down and ask how this could have happened. This was a man in complete control of his faculties.
“The essential thing is that we a) don’t minimise it, b) that we don’t normalise it and it is essential that we focus on the victims.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved