Muriel Jurd had a feeling about her daughter Jodie’s partner as soon as she met him.
‘I said to Jodie: “I will defend your right to love who you choose, but don’t ask me to approve of this choice because I think it’s wrong for you,” ’ Muriel, 63, recalls.
Jodie was a happy soul. Kind, with the biggest smile, she was a popular nurse living in the NSW Hunter Valley area, surrounded by her close-knit family. Life was good... until she met Robert Bretherton at the pub. After 10 years in a violent relationship – the details of which she wrote in her diary, but did not tell anyone – her life was to end.
Jodie’s family noticed subtle changes. ‘Bit by bit, we saw her appearance change,’ Muriel says. ‘He wouldn’t let her wear nice clothes or make-up, and pushed all her friends and family away in an attempt to keep her to himself. He took away all her self-esteem.
‘We wouldn’t see her for weeks, and we know now she’d been abused and didn’t want us to know. We’d ask if everything was OK. She’d cry so we’d stop asking – you don’t want to upset your child. In hindsight, I wished I had pushed her more.’
Little did Jodie or her family know that Bretherton would silence her in a crime that rocked the community. Just as Jodie had made the decision to leave him, in November 2011, neighbours heard an argument at the duo’s home. In a frenzied attack, Jodie’s finger was dislocated, and her face rammed through a bedroom wall. She was stabbed with a carving knife 12 times – four wounds to her back, seven to her front including one to her heart, and one to the face. She dies as a result, aged just 37. Bretherton pleaded guilty to manslaughter but the jury rejected his plea and found him guilty of murder. He was jailed for 21 years, aged 38.
Channelling their grief, the Jurd family helped establish Jodie’s Place, a safe haven in Cessnock for victims of domestic abuse. Manager Paula Mudd has seen first-hand the fear women face in speaking up. ‘Domestic violence is about power and control. My message to women out there is to listen to your gut. If [there’s] the slightest warning bell, get out and get help.’
Muriel adds: ‘It is very hard to talk about what happened to Jodie, but there are girls out there this is going to happen to if we don’t raise awareness about domestic violence.’
New Idea is raising funds for victims of domestic violence to provide them with We Care Packs. We aim to help one woman a day in 2016 – but we need your help to do that.
Please support our campaign and donate at www.wecarepacks.com.au, powered by Donate Planet.
Proceeds will be put towards further packs and as little as $5 can help us deliver this much-needed service for women everywhere.