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Eye-witness account a stark reminder

Date

Jenna Price

''It is almost as if bystanders think it is a private matter, so they won't interfere. They turn a blind eye to domestic violence.''

''It is almost as if bystanders think it is a private matter, so they won't interfere. They turn a blind eye to domestic violence.''

When we read last week that three young women working as promotional staff at Summernats were allegedly attacked, we felt a sense of dread.

Should we just assume that Summernats is completely uncontrollable? That no woman should ever work there, dressed in brief clothes or not? And isn't that what we would expect from this event?

Don't turn a blind eye to domestic violence, urges crisis service

It was strange how quickly the attention turned to the long-running festival, instead of the alleged attacks on the women. Oh, Summernats, what would you imagine?

We won't know exactly what happened because no-one has laid a formal complaint.

But here is what happened in a car park at Majura Park on Sunday. This is an eyewitness account from Juliet, who is seven months pregnant. I have her last name but she is frightened of repercussions if it is published (and I would be, too).

Her family drove into the car park so her husband could pop out with their three-year-old son to buy potting mix from the hardware store. They are redoing their garden and were on their way back from Pialligo. Juliet decided to stay in the car - she's at the uncomfortable stage of her pregnancy, so the less waddling the better.

As she sat there, she heard a man shout out. She thinks she heard him call ''Mel'' or something like that. Juliet turned around and saw a man running past her car.

She says he looked wild, he looked as though he was in a complete rage.

''He was calling out: 'Get back here'.'' Then she saw a young woman running through the car park. The man was catching up to her and he was making a fist as he ran.

Juliet, who teaches at a public school, says her first thought was that the man was preparing to hit the woman.

She started to get out of her car, to break up the fight. Now remember this woman is seven months pregnant. Another woman drove past the two people having a fight and she, too, stopped to get out of her car.

That woman said to Juliet that she thought the two people were having a fight.

Then, Juliet and her new ally think the two are actually about to embrace but instead it is clear the man is grabbing the small woman around the throat and grappling her to the ground.

Here's what flummoxed the soon-to-be mother of two.

''There were quite a few men who were pulling up and just watching,'' she said yesterday. ''A couple of guys started laughing. And all I could think was, 'this is not an arena spectacle'.'' The attacker turned on the other woman - who, with Juliet, was determined to help - and started threatening her too. He got his camera phone out and started filming her and shouting.

At that moment, Juliet's husband emerged with their son from the store and he went over to try to deal with the situation. Juliet started to call triple 0.

Juliet didn't see what happened next. Her ally said that the man dragged his victim into the car and slammed the door. The young woman, maybe 19 or early 20s, tried to get out but couldn't because the car was moving. No one got the number plate. Juliet noted the colour and make of the car but police told her that was not enough.

''I just hoped someone had seen something else and reported it,'' she says. ''He dragged her to the ground, I saw him hit her.'' But what has devastated this young mother more than anything was the response from others who witnessed the events.

''I am so sick and tired of people thinking 'this is not my problem' and just videotaping what they see.

''I've been out when men have brawls and other men will step in but I've also witnessed fights between men and women.

''It is almost as if bystanders think it is a private matter, so they won't interfere. They turn a blind eye to domestic violence.''

Juliet thinks the response would have been different if the man had stolen the woman's handbag. She thinks all the blokes in the car park might have set off in hot pursuit at the crime against property, eager to show their chasing skills. But as soon as the man called the woman's name, it became a private crime between partners and no-one would step up except two women, one of whom is just about to deliver her baby.

Juliet teaches a lot of young women in her job and she says she is frightened for them. It's not always going to be the case that there will be a brave, very pregnant woman, sitting in a car park, willing to throw her body on the line against a violent attacker.

''Violence against women is particularly a problem because 99 per cent of the female population can't defend themselves against men. It is the responsibility of men to step up,'' she says. So why don't they?

■ Follow me on Twitter @jennaprice or email jenna_p@bigpond.net.au

Editor's note: Police subsequently said they said they had spoken to one of the individuals involved in the alleged incident at Summernats and that person cast doubt over the original version of events.

63 comments

  • I recall the Melbourne solicitor who intervened in a similar situation in the city centre amid the morning rush hour, just a couple of years back. He was shot dead.

    Commenter
    watsonn
    Location
    Woden
    Date and time
    January 15, 2013, 8:20AM
    • Correct, although this happened in 2007. He was Brendan Keilar, a married man with three young children. A foreign backpacker (also male) who also intervened was seriously injured by gunfire.

      I hope that neither his widow nor any of his children reads this article.

      Commenter
      Ben C of Canberra
      Date and time
      January 15, 2013, 2:20PM
    • Not only this matter, but sadly many women abuse AVO'S as a means of revenge at their man and SPOIL IT FOR GENUINE VICTIMS. Many men have been set up, some for merely doing same as the woman and raising voice with no assault or insults and police make the orders rather than the complainant even though witnessed nothing, then the men are secretly tarnished with a records raised if reoccurs again even if they were not charged. No wonder men and some police no longer take some cases as serious. LADIES MOVE AWAY, YOU HAVE FULL PROTECTION THESE DAYS, I have no pity if you find excuses to stay until your nutcase men abuse you to extreme. ITS CALLED PREVENTION. you may say oh we have a right to stay, but in that, your also saying your right is to maybe get killed or your kids. ITS COMMON SENSE. would you stay in a burning house?

      Commenter
      BRIAN
      Location
      glenroy
      Date and time
      January 15, 2013, 2:25PM
    • Yes, and Juliet was clearly happy to risk her own husband's life as well, while she couldn't even get around to taking number plate details. According to the article, her husband was the only person who actually did anything to deal with the situation.

      Juliet did nothing apart from "start to get out of her car". That's it. Lots of people could claim that they were "willing to throw their body on the line against a violent attacker", but it's an easy thing to say rather than do. And she didn't do it.

      ''I just hoped someone had seen something else and reported it,'' she says. As a woman, she seems to believe that she is entitled to lots of rights, victimhood claims and a sense of outrage but without having to worry about any bothersome responsibilities (that's what men are for).

      Is it any wonder that men are not rushing to defend women like this.

      Commenter
      Greg
      Date and time
      January 15, 2013, 7:10PM
  • I intervened once ... and promptly got castigated and abused by the woman who was the apparent victim.

    Never again.

    Commenter
    francisoconnor
    Location
    Rye
    Date and time
    January 15, 2013, 9:43AM
    • Firstly, Most men could not fight their way out of a wet paper bag. Just because they posses Male genitalia does not mean they can be of any use in a physical altercation. I'm a very fit bloke but I've not thrown a punch since year 8 (13 years ago) so up against a rough nut who gets in a scuffle every other weekend I may as well punch myself in the head until I pass out because it would cause less damage and be just as helpful. Secondly, I know people who have intervened in public domestic violence situations and had the Victim turn on them as well. There are some exceptions, but in general its best to not get involved and just call the police

      Commenter
      Mick
      Location
      Melb
      Date and time
      January 15, 2013, 3:58PM
    • Good point, mick. I am not a hand-to-hand fighter either.

      Thats why we should all carry guns, like Americans !

      Commenter
      enno
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      January 15, 2013, 7:04PM
  • In answer to your headline 'men' don't ignore domestic violence. Maybe some men, just like some women would ignore it. Sounds to me like a case of maybe the guy was massive and scary, in which case nobody wanted to get killed.

    These sort of articles make me question the intelligence of people. On one hand violence is linked to masculinity, in the very next breath men are being criticised for not using 'appropriate force or violence'. It is either right or wrong. Call the police.

    Regardless of this I know I could not simply watch on, regardless of the people involved

    Commenter
    TFC
    Location
    Geelong
    Date and time
    January 15, 2013, 9:50AM
    • He so massive and scary that nobody but a woman who was seven months pregnant would stand up to him? Give me a break.

      Commenter
      Tudorgrrrl
      Date and time
      January 15, 2013, 2:53PM
    • I am also a man of average size, weight and ability. I intervened in one domestic dispute between a neighbour and his wife. I remember walking to their front door during a particularly nasty sounding argument, I then remember waking up in the Liverpool Hospital ER. My partner happened to be watching from the window and it appears I was king hit by him as soon as he opened the door. Fractured skull, fractured jaw, fractured right eye socket.

      Sadly, once bitten, twice shy.

      Commenter
      My Opinion
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      January 15, 2013, 6:09PM

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