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Bodybuilder who murdered Monique Lezsak was ‘unexceptional’  

23 May 2024

The man found guilty yesterday in Melbourne’s Supreme Court of murdering his ex-partner in a frenzied stabbing attack had used controlling, abusive behaviour for months before her murder.  

“In this he was unexceptional,” said Phillip Ripper, CEO of No to Violence, the largest peak body for organisations and individuals working to stop men’s use of family violence in Australia.  

“The kind of ongoing patterns of controlling behaviour exhibited by this man are all too common, and we know they can often escalate to increased levels of violence and even murder.” 

Sven Lindemann was found guilty yesterday of engaging in a frenzied, prolonged attack on his ex-partner Monique Lezsak a year ago while her 10 year old daughter Lily* tried to fight him off and pleaded with him to stop. Lily was injured during the incident. She and her twin brother Leo*, who was also at home during the attack, are now without a mother.  

Lindemann was sentenced to 31 years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 25 years. 

The case has aroused interest in the media and in the public due to the terrible violence of the attack, but also partly because Lindemann is a heavily muscled bodybuilder. But the events leading up to the murder are depressingly and tragically common. 

“There is widespread interest in this case because of the way Lindemann presents like a caricature of masculinity,” said Mr Ripper. “This is extremely dangerous way to look at it. Lindemann has been made out to be such a stereotypical character that many men can easily distance themselves from him and his actions.” 

“It’s all too easy for men to say – I am not ‘that man’, which can give them licence to continue their own controlling and abusive behaviour that to them seems normal and even mundane.” 

“Justice Hollingworth’s statements in the case reveal that Lindemann’s controlling behaviour acted out in a way which is so familiar to those of us working in family violence. Many men control what their partners wear everyday, where they go everyday, who they talk to, and too many men still think that’s ok.” 

“But we know that these everyday behaviours constitute coercive control, a form of family violence and abuse often associated with escalating risks for physical violence and even murder.”  

“Too many men, everyday, believe they have the right to control their partner’s lives; too many men, everyday, disrespect women.” 

“The Justice’s statements reveal that this man controlled many aspect of Monique Lezsak’s life, eventually taking her life from her. This man’s violent quest for control extended to the lives of Monique’s children, family and friends.” 

“But this desire to control is everywhere. It’s in schools, it’s in sports clubs, it’s in Parliament, it’s in workplaces. But you cannot control your way into safe and satisfying relationships.” 

“To men we say; if you see any part of yourself in Mr Linderman’s behaviour, if you feel yourself wanting to control aspects of your partners life, it’s time to pick up the phone and talk to someone.  It’s time to contact the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 for 24/7 telephone counselling and referral to services that can assist you to something better.” 

“To governments we say: We need radical change to stop men like Lindemann from feeling free to choose to use controlling and abusive behaviours of any sort.”  

“We are in the grip of a national crisis of gender based violence. Doing more of the same is not the answer.” 

This means governments need to: 

  • Provide sustainable funding for critical intervention services via the National Partnership Agreement. Funding allocations via the National Partnership Agreement need to reflect the real cost of delivering services. This means appropriately resourcing staffing costs, clinical supervision, family safety contact work, training and professional development, responding to legislative and policy reforms, data collection, reporting and information sharing, cross-sector collaboration and administrative costs  
  • Commit to developing a comprehensive National Perpetration Strategy that ensures a co-ordinated national approach to ending men’s use of family violence. Right now we have a fragmented approach to working with men to end violence, we desperately require co-ordination. 
  • Fund a national peak body for services working with people who use violence to ensure frontline practitioner knowledge of what interventions work best for whom, are centred in policy and legislation decisions. It would also ensure vital sector issues are addressed, including building crucial workforce capabilities.  

*Lily and Leo are pseudonyms used to protect the children’s privacy 

For interviews please contact Sala Goma at or 0479 112 958. 

About No to Violence   

No to Violence (NTV) is Australia’s largest and only national peak body for organisations that work with men who use family violence, providing training, sector development and advocacy across the sector.  

NTV also operates the Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491 , providing free24/7 counselling and referral service for to men who are concerned about their behaviour.