‘Why Was This Allowed To Get To The Point Where He Murdered Her?’

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Over 10 years ago, 17-year-old Emily Longley was murdered by her boyfriend. On the eve of the murder trial, her father Mark Longley found out that Emily’s death had come after a pattern of increasingly threatening behaviour. He vowed to help spread the message of how destructive emotional abuse can be – and what the warning signs are to look for. Mark talks to Capsule about the recent events which show that misogynistic behaviour is still ‘alive and well,’ keeping Emily’s memory alive and living with the specific grief that comes with losing a loved one to murder.

Back in his former life, Mark Longley never had any intention of becoming something of a spokesperson against violence against women. But in 2011, his 17-year-old daughter Emily Longley was murdered by her boyfriend and there was no going back to the before times. His eyes were opened, in the worst possible way, to how both insidious and deeply common violence against women is. Now he says he takes any opportunity to speak about Emily’s life, and Emily’s death, and the slow slip into violence her teenage relationship took on.

“I heard about this catalogue of abuse and I thought, ‘Why did no-one step in? Why was this allowed to get to the point where he murdered her?’”

One of the things Mark remembers most from the police telling both him and Caroline, Emily’s mother, on the eve of the murder trial, was how much Emily’s killer, Elliot Turner, had openly talked about killing her.

“I heard about this catalogue of abuse and I thought, ‘Why did no-one step in? Why was this allowed to get to the point where he murdered her?’ He had openly threatened murdering her; talking to his friends about ‘should I drown her? Should I set fire to her? Should I strangle her?’ Going out one night with a hammer, looking for Emily,” Mark recalls. “These were very public displays of male aggression towards a woman. And I thought, particularly about his male friends, ‘why did you not step in and tell him to pull his head in?’”

“This is something I’ve learned over time, but if your good mate tells you to stop being a dickhead, to stop acting that way… you’re probably going to listen, as opposed to someone else telling you. People aren’t aware of how dangerous this behaviour is.”

In the decade that has gone by since Emily’s murder, Mark (pictured in the bottom photo, left) has spoken to numerous schools, community groups and women’s welfare associations; he will be speaking in Hawke’s Bay later this year in support of the Family Violence Intervention and Prevention Charitable Trust (details below). Because one of the messages that came out of her death was the idea that everyone had missed the warning signs. “I’m an intelligent person, and I didn’t know what the warning signs are. So, I knew there were lots of people like me who also didn’t know,” Mark says.

“There is a very broad spectrum of sexual violence behaviour, but we tend to focus on the murders.”

“I thought that if I could raise some awareness around the warning signs, that would help. But also, if I could get men to take a bit more responsibility for their sexist behaviour towards women. Because, to me, this is a male problem. It’s not a female problem – even though it’s often portrayed as such, as something women have to protect themselves against. But it’s not… this is something men have to deal with.”

Emily’s death was one of many high-profile murders of young women that have dominated the media cycle, alongside the deaths of Sophie Elliott and Grace Millane. But the overall focus is too often placed on the wrong aspect, Mark believes.

“This kind of behaviour… it doesn’t start like that. It starts at a very low level. If you’re out with your mates and you wolf whistle at a lone female jogger, that doesn’t mean you’re going to go out and murder someone, but it’s the thin end of the same sort of behaviour,” he says.

“There is a very broad spectrum of sexual violence behaviour, but we tend to focus on the murders. Whereas if you’re driving with your mate, he winds a window down and wolf whistles at a woman, you can say ‘Mate, that’s not funny.’ The focus needs to move away from the extreme cases and move towards the more relatable things we can all do, to quell that behaviour.”

The abuse that Jacinda Ardern received “shows that misogyny is still alive and well here, despite the lip service we pay to it.”

Mark cites the decided lack of public outrage during the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial, at the incredibly disturbing text messages that Johnny sent a friend about how he wanted to ‘drown and then burn’ Amber, before having sex with her dead corpse to ‘make sure she’s dead.’

“If you’re talking about setting fire to another human being, that’s pretty serious,” Mark says. “That’s a red flag warning sign; that’s not the kind of behaviour that you can laugh off as a joke.” He says there is no way of knowing what actually went down between the pair, but the media coverage of those text messages was still “masked as ‘well, she deserved it, she was asking for it, or something she did made him act that way’ which is one of the biggest roots of the problem we have, that the woman has done something to provoke the man into that reaction.”

He also refers to the unprecedented abuse that former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern received. “To me, that shows that misogyny is still alive and well here, despite the lip service we pay to it. I don’t think it’s taken seriously at all – but in order for it to be taken seriously, men have to accept the fact that this is something we have to do something about.”

After Emily’s murder, and in his public speaking work, Mark says he is often asked by people ‘what should I do if I see someone abusing their girlfriend or wife in public?’ But these questions, however well meaning, miss the point; abuse of this nature only ever exists in the shadows of a private relationship, it exists in the slow chipping away of someone’s self-worth.

“It’s always behind closed doors,” he says. “You’re much more likely to notice something in a social situation, that the wife isn’t really talking to anyone; she’s looking at the ground, she’s a secondary, bit part to the husband. She won’t be talking to other men on her own, she’s not leaving her husband’s side, he might be holding her hand the whole time. You’ll see that much more commonly – and if you know the guy, maybe it’s time to step in and have a word with him.”

But that, of course, is an adult dynamic of an abusive relationship. Emily never got to experience an adult relationship; she was a teenager when she was killed. It’s one of the reasons Mark speaks at schools so much, to try and highlight the aspects of control, suspicion and isolation that can affect even young relationships. He talks about how Elliot constantly kept tabs on Emily – checking her phone, monitoring her Facebook messages, turning up unexpectedly when she was out with her friends.

“Emily died on that day, but she didn’t die in my heart.
I still love her, she’s still my daughter.”

It is extremely draining work. It always has been. But Mark is very hopeful that if even one teenager remembers Emily’s story, and it saves them from an unhealthy relationship, it is worth it. In the years since she died, Mark and Emily’s mother split and Mark remarried, with two young children. The eldest knows about Emily – his younger brother too little to understand – and there are photos of her around the house. Her memory is kept alive – just a week or so after our phone call, they will be baking a cake to celebrate what would have been Emily’s 29th birthday.

“Emily died on that day, but she didn’t die in my heart. I still love her, she’s still my daughter. She’s still part of my family and it’s important for me to keep her alive, like that.”

The hardest part has been separating the joy of Emily’s life from the utter horror of how she died. “When someone you love is murdered, you kind of live in that moment. You’re dealing with the murder – the injustice of it, the sadness of it – but you have to move beyond that. You can’t make peace with it, but you have to learn how to deal with it. Getting past that is really, really f—king hard to do, if you’ll excuse my language. But you have to, because then you can start enjoying the memories of them. When someone you love dies unnaturally, or prematurely, you can’t live in the moment of their death for too long, because it will just eat you up forever.”

“When someone you love is murdered, you kind of live in that moment… Getting past that is really, really f–king hard to do.”

Mark paraphrases a quote from American comedian Rob Delaney, who has spoken at length about his experience with grief after his four-year-old son, Henry, died of a brain tumour. “He said that ‘in his life, the normal things in his life that had upset him were like a kick around in the park, compared to the World Cup of losing a child,’” Mark says. “And it’s so true. Relationships end, bad things happen and you think ‘my God, this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me,’ but it’s like a paper cut in comparison to losing a child. It’s hard to say that to people, but I do try and encourage people to not get upset when the All Blacks lose, or things like that,” he laughs. “Because it’s not really important – your world is still turning, the sun is still rising. But when your child dies, your world stops turning for a while.”

Mark will be travelling to Hawke’s Bay later this year to speak in support of the Family Violence Intervention and Prevention Charitable Trust, which manages Women’s Refuge services in Napier and Hastings. To stay informed on the date and venue for this event please go to https://www.familyvip.org.nz/.

Mark did a three-part podcast series on Emily’s death and living with grief, you can listen to it here.

‘Why Was This Allowed To Get To The Point Where He Murdered Her?’

Over 10 years ago, 17-year-old Emily Longley was murdered by her boyfriend. On the eve of the murder trial, her father Mark Longley found out that Emily’s death had come after a pattern of increasingly threatening behaviour. He vowed to help spread the message of how destructive emotional abuse can be – and what the warning signs are to look for. Mark talks to Capsule about the recent events which show that misogynistic behaviour is still ‘alive and well,’ keeping Emily’s memory alive and living with the specific grief that comes with losing a loved one to murder.

Back in his former life, Mark Longley never had any intention of becoming something of a spokesperson against violence against women. But in 2011, his 17-year-old daughter Emily Longley was murdered by her boyfriend and there was no going back to the before times. His eyes were opened, in the worst possible way, to how both insidious and deeply common violence against women is, and now he takes any opportunity to speak about Emily’s life, and Emily’s death, and the slow slip into violence her teenage relationship took on.

“I heard about this catalogue of abuse and I thought, ‘Why did no-one step in? Why was this allowed to get to the point where he murdered her?’”

One of the things Mark remembers most from the police telling both him and Caroline, Emily’s mother, on the eve of the murder trial was how much Emily’s killer, Elliot Turner, had openly talked about killing her.

“I heard about this catalogue of abuse and I thought, ‘Why did no-one step in? Why was this allowed to get to the point where he murdered her?’ He had openly threatened murdering her; talking to his friends about ‘should I drown her? Should I set fire to her? Should I strangle her?’ Going out one night with a hammer, looking for Emily,” Mark recalls. “These were very public displays of male aggression towards a woman. And I thought, particularly about his male friends, ‘why did you not step in and tell him to pull his head in?’”

“This is something I’ve learned over time, but if your good mate tells you to stop being a dickhead, to stop acting that way… you’re probably going to listen, as opposed to someone else telling you. People aren’t aware of how dangerous this behaviour is.”

In the decade that has gone by since Emily’s murder, Mark has spoken to numerous schools, community groups and women’s welfare associations; he will be speaking in Hawke’s Bay later this year in support of the Family Violence Intervention and Prevention Charitable Trust (details below). Because one of the messages that came out of her death was the idea that everyone had missed the warning signs. “I’m an intelligent person, and I didn’t know what the warning signs are. So, I knew there were lots of people like me who also didn’t know,” Mark says.

“There is a very broad spectrum of sexual violence behaviour, but we tend to focus on the murders.”

“I thought that if I could raise some awareness around the warning signs, that would help. But also, if I could get men to take a bit more responsibility for their sexist behaviour towards women. Because, to me, this is a male problem. It’s not a female problem – even though it’s often portrayed as such, as something women have to protect themselves against. But it’s not… this is something men have to deal with.”

Emily’s death was one of many high-profile murders of young women that have dominated the media cycle, alongside the deaths of Sophie Elliott and Grace Millane. But the overall focus is too often placed on the wrong aspect, Mark believes.

“This kind of behaviour… it doesn’t start like that. It starts at a very low level. If you’re out with your mates and you wolf whistle at a lone female jogger, that doesn’t mean you’re going to go out and murder someone, but it’s the thin end of the same sort of behaviour,” he says.

“There is a very broad spectrum of sexual violence behaviour, but we tend to focus on the murders. Whereas if you’re driving with your mate, he winds a window down and wolf whistles at a woman, you can say ‘Mate, that’s not funny.’ The focus needs to move away from the extreme cases and move towards the more relatable things we can all do, to quell that behaviour.”

The abuse that Jacinda Ardern received “shows that misogyny is still alive and well here, despite the lip service we pay to it.”

Mark cites the decided lack of public outrage during the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial, at the incredibly disturbing text messages that Johnny sent a friend about how he wanted to ‘drown and then burn’ Amber, before having sex with her dead corpse to ‘make sure she’s dead.’

“If you’re talking about setting fire to another human being, that’s pretty serious,” Mark says. “That’s a red flag warning sign; that’s not the kind of behaviour that you can laugh off as a joke.” He says there is no way of knowing what actually went down between the pair, but the media coverage of those text messages was still “masked as ‘well, she deserved it, she was asking for it, or something she did made him act that way’ which is one of the biggest roots of the problem we have, that the woman has done something to provoke the man into that reaction.”

He also refers to the unprecedented abuse that former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern received. “To me, that shows that misogyny is still alive and well here, despite the lip service we pay to it. I don’t think it’s taken seriously at all – but in order for it to be taken seriously, men have to accept the fact that this is something we have to do something about.”

After Emily’s murder, and in his public speaking work, Mark says he is often asked by people ‘what should I do if I see someone abusing their girlfriend or wife in public?’ But these questions, however well meaning, miss the point; abuse of this nature only ever exists in the shadows of a private relationship, it exists in the slow chipping away of someone’s self-worth.

“It’s always behind closed doors,” he says. “You’re much more likely to notice something in a social situation, that the wife isn’t really talking to anyone; she’s looking at the ground, she’s a secondary, bit part to the husband. She won’t be talking to other men on her own, she’s not leaving her husband’s side, he might be holding her hand the whole time. You’ll see that much more commonly – and if you know the guy, maybe it’s time to step in and have a word with him.”

But that, of course, is an adult dynamic of an abusive relationship. Emily never got to experience an adult relationship; she was a teenager when she was killed. It’s one of the reasons Mark speaks at schools so much, to try and highlight the aspects of control, suspicion and isolation that can affect even young relationships. He talks about how Elliot constantly kept tabs on Emily – checking her phone, monitoring her Facebook messages, turning up unexpectedly when she was out with her friends.

“Emily died on that day, but she didn’t die in my heart. I still love her, she’s still my daughter.”

It is extremely draining work. It always has been. But Mark is very hopeful that if even one teenager remembers Emily’s story, and it saves them from an unhealthy relationship, it is worth it. In the years since she died, Mark and Emily’s mother split and Mark remarried, and has since had two young children. The eldest knows about Emily – his younger brother too little to understand – and there are photos of her around the house. Her memory is kept alive – just a week or so after our phone call, they will be baking a cake to celebrate what would have been Emily’s 29th birthday.

“Emily died on that day, but she didn’t die in my heart. I still love her, she’s still my daughter. She’s still part of my family and it’s important for me to keep her alive, like that.”

The hardest part has been separating the joy of Emily’s life from the utter horror of how she died. “When someone you love is murdered, you kind of live in that moment. You’re dealing with the murder – the injustice of it, the sadness of it – but you have to move beyond that. You can’t make peace with it, but you have to learn how to deal with it. Getting past that is really, really f—king hard to do, if you’ll excuse my language. But you have to, because then you can start enjoying the memories of them. When someone you love dies unnaturally, or prematurely, you can’t live in the moment of their death for too long, because it will just eat you up forever.”

“When someone you love is murdered, you kind of live in that moment… Getting past that is really, really f–king hard to do.”

Mark paraphrases a quote from American comedian Rob Delaney, who has spoken at length about his experience with grief after his four-year-old son, Henry, died of a brain tumour. “He said that ‘in his life, the normal things in his life that had upset him were like a kick around in the park, compared to the World Cup of losing a child,’” Mark says.

“It’s so true. Relationships end, bad things happen and you think ‘my God, this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me,’ but it’s like a paper cut in comparison to losing a child. It’s hard to say that to people, but I do try and encourage people to not get upset when the All Blacks lose, or things like that,” he laughs. “Because it’s not really important – your world is still turning, the sun is still rising. But when your child dies, your world stops turning for a while.”

Mark will be travelling to Hawke’s Bay later this year to speak in support of the Family Violence Intervention and Prevention Charitable Trust, which manages Women’s Refuge services in Napier and Hastings. To stay informed on the date and venue for this event please go to https://www.familyvip.org.nz/.

Mark did a three-part podcast series on Emily’s death and living with grief, you can listen to it here.

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