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The First Time He Hit Her

The Murder of Tara Costigan
Narrated by: Sylvie de Crespigny
Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, True Crime
4.5 out of 5 stars (22 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For fans of true crime and books such as See What You Made Me Do, a shocking and movingly told portrait of the murder of suburban mum Tara Costigan and an examination of why domestic violence affects us all.

Tara Costigan was the woman next door. A hard worker. Quick to laugh and easy to like. She was happy, confident, strong. A woman who always looked after herself and her kids. Close with her family and her friends, she was much loved. Then, in 2013, she met Marcus Rappel. A local tradie, he was charming and sincere, they dated and fell in love. That should have been the end of a happy-ever-after story. But for Tara, it was much uglier. And for her family it would be devastating. 

A year later, Tara was pregnant to Marcus. Her family had been worried for a while, but Tara didn't tell anyone how Marcus' jealousy was souring the relationship. She tried to keep it quiet. Despite everything, she never imagined he would be physically violent - he would never hurt her.

Tara was wrong. One fine day, the last day of summer in 2015, she was holding their newborn baby in her arms when he attacked her with an axe. Her murder seemed to come out of the blue. But as this extraordinary, often shocking audiobook reveals, it did not.

The First Time He Hit Her is an attempt to understand why dozens of women are murdered each year by men who profess to love them.

©2020 Heidi Lemon (P)2020 Hachette Australia Audio

What listeners say about The First Time He Hit Her

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Tragic Australian Domestic Abuse story

Unfortunately, Tara has been added to list of murdered women in Australia.

Thank you for this book Heidi, highlighting how abuse can escalate and break down some myths of Domestic Abuse and what happens behind closed doors. Well researched, narrated and written. My heart breaks for her family.

There must be a change in the system for obtaining DVO’s - putting women on the stand in front of Magistrates for protection and restraint from violence when women fear for their life and lives of their family, Is just unnecessary trauma at a very stressful time, makes my blood boil and I’ve had first hand experience.

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Unknown author, why??

Whilst I enjoyed, if that’s really a word to use, the story, I struggle to figure out why this particular author was chosen to write this story?
I did not like that she wrote her own story into Tara’s story, I feel that if she wished to tell her story that this was not the time to do so. In my opinion it didn’t do Tara’s story any justice.
I know that I am not an author but I have certainly read a great deal of true crime in my life and feel that there are much better authors out there.

Heidi, maybe if you want your story read, you should have written it and not added it, unnecessarily, to this story. I mean no disrespect and I’m pretty certain I’m not the only person who feels this.

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A must read

Brilliant piece of writing by Heidi Lemon. The story is absolutely heartbreaking but so well depicted from a variety of angles I felt were important to examine as an outsider. While listening to the audio version of the story, I felt like I was there at times and was kept awake for many nights after it. I highly recommend this book.

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Author appears to think this is her story

A tragic story, the writing is not awful, but the way the author tells this through her eyes is a massive let down. Because of this, it comes across less as a factual account, and more of the authors experience, which I feel lets Tara down a bit. Time and again I found myself wishing that the author would just lay it on a little less thick and stick to the facts of the case, like other very well written Aussie true crime accounts.

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  • Jennifer Tanner
  • 21-07-2020

Good Book

I just feel like the ends was a little bit repetative but the additional information on domestic abuse as week as the authors own experiences made for great additional info!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-08-2020

Author should have left her personal story out

As always, I wait until I've finished a book before looking at other reviews so as not to be influenced by them. Now that I've read some of the other reviews, I'm relieved to see I'm not the only one who thinks the author should not have interposed her own experiences - as valid as they are and as free as she is to do so. It detracted from Tara's story and to a degree, piggy-backed on a tragic story and therefore disrespected it. I kinow that's not what the author intended but that's how I found it.

What does it matter that the author spends her days "hooking bras across sweaty backs" while trying to establish herself as a writer. I feel like the author sees herself as some sort of romcom character; slaving at a job she hates during the day while waiting for her life to be transformed when her true talents are revealed. That's a different story and should have been kept separate.

I'm also heartily sick of true crime authors who - when they get to the court proceedings - are disparaging of defence counsel and paint them (us) in a rotten light. As unsavoury individuals who act as our client's puppet; repeating untruths, strategising on the border of unethical behaviour and generally being less competent/dignified than the saintly prosecutors.

We have a job to do and if you were ever charged with criminal offending, you would want us to do that for you too.

I can't wait to find a true crime report which keeps its head at the point where the case ends up in a trial, instead of resorting to the standard patter which this book fell into.

Finally - "the judge was exacerbated"? No - the judge was exasperated. An elementary error, surely.

Positives: the narrtor. She had a good tone to her voice and was really easy to listen to. No annoying mannerisms. Just a good steady narration.