Ugly scene in the Hay St Mall today…

… and I’ve just stepped out of it!  A young woman who’s a regular busker in the mall – had a ‘disagreement’ with her male companion.  It turned VERY ugly, very quickly, and when a fella in a suit tried to intervene – things got much hotter, and on request from the young lass, the gentleman walked away. 

I was watching carefully from the sidelines initially – caught up in it – grateful that this bloke intervened first, because that took some of the heat out of the situation.  I had been approaching the noise in front of me as I walked up the mall.  I was barely registering it – and suddenly – it’s there and I almost trip over the situation!  He’s angry – REAL angry – he’s loud, violent, verbal, and going off!  She’s crying, frightened, not able to defend herself, and if he swings – he’d really hurt her.

I was watching, and it became clear in an instant that this wasn’t an unusual situation between these two – or for the young lady at least (and that scared me even more).  I did a lap of the gawkers (of which I guess – I was one) to keep moving, kept an eye on the young fella and looked for an opening.  I was beaten to it (and I have to say thankfully for purely selfish reasons) as the man in the suit got in first.  He tried, but it was far too ugly, and clearly this was what the young bloke wanted – perhaps even needed – because their was latent anger there, and he was ready to blow!  It didn’t – but the distraction meant I could get closer – and had time to call the police.  I then saw others were moving on that front before me, so put the phone down and simply interjected myself in on the situation.

I may as well have been invisible.  So too, could have been another bloke who stepped into help the girl, but between his stepping in and mine – the immediate anger had started to bleed off from the moment, if only for a couple of seconds.  It didn’t take long to come back though, and both myself and the other fella stayed close to the young lass, simply providing a presence and a reassuring voice.  It was noisy and scary I guess, but it wasn’t physical yet, so we stayed in there as best we could.

I can tell you quite honestly that I hate this type of situation.  It’s angry it’s personal, it’s bloody ugly to the ‘n’th degree, and it’s frightening as all buggery!  The ‘couple’ went different ways then, and the other fella tried to get the girl to leave the scene.  He even offered to put her in a taxi, and pay for her to get home safe.  A bloody nice and generous gesture.  She was too upset to react well to this and turned him down.  So he left too – feeling I guess like he’d done all he could.  I stayed – because it wasn’t over yet – and frankly I was scared shitless for the girl (I was scared shitless for myself – but you never realise these things until AFTER the event!).  I’m not going to go into the reasons, but there were factors associated with the ‘why’ she couldn’t get away from this bloke herself, and the reason she was in the mall in the first place.  It just wasn’t as simple as being able to walk away, and come back another day.

He came back – and it started again.  Mostly loud, physical in that he grabbed her and held her roughly, but it never went past this – I simply stood there, close enough to step in between them if I had too.  It now involved money, and as this was bandied about, it of course got hotter.  I was worried that if it didn’t come undone before too long, or the cops didn’t bloody arrive, I was going to have to put this young fella on the ground – he was that frightening!  I managed to convince them to step away form each other, and she walked away.  I checked on the young bloke – but he wasn’t following.  I raced after the lass – but she was off, and she retreated to a lift – heading for an upstairs public toilet – and dissappeared behind stainless steel doors.  Gone – and it was over.

I went back out to the young bloke to check on him.  I’m a youth worker, so I can’t afford to take sides, I don’t have the luxury (nor the disposition) to judge people or a shitty situation, simply by what’s initially presented to me.  I had to see if he was still angry, and to see if he’d managed to calm himself enough, not to hurt others around him.  He had – and we spoke some – I kept calm, spoke softly and made myself the smallest target I possible could – standing over six foot tall on that street.  His ‘angst’ lay in not having anywhere to stay that night now (and I know your thinking your not surprised), and he was frustrated, because he tried to do a good thing for this lass – bought her a meal – but she couldn’t eat it.  She was allergic to the tucker he brought her, but he didn’t know or didn’t think about this.  she reacted, he reacted – BOOM – it of course just turned to shit from there!

He wasn’t listening to her – she tried to explain – but he was simply caught up on the rejection of the moment  – I did something GOOD for you and you kick me in the teeth!  I have seen this type of behaviour so many times – I’ve lost count.  It leads to anger, and it gets people hurt.  Bloody domestic violence – at home or in the streets – is some of the ugliest, UGLIEST human behaviour I have ever had to witness.  I struggle with it, and I will NEVER condone it!  It’s explosive at times, or it lies in wait and ambushes it’s victim in those quiet moments.  I can’t understand it – will probably never understand it – but I don’t fool myself into believing it could never be me.  I’m not a saint – and under pressure – all sorts of threads come undone.  There but for the grace of someone’s God – go I!

There would have had to been fifty people around this scenario as it unfolded, and people simply couldn’t get involved.  Understand I’m not judging people on this.  I understand – I was one of these people initially – until I got caught up in it.  Situations like this are not something that comes into the world of normal people experiencing happy and healthy lives – certainly not of this type of ugly (and this hasn’t bee the ugliest I’ve seen) – and people are often caught in that shitty situation where they don’t know how they can intervene.  What do you do?

I’d like to have an easy answer for you, but as I sit here calming down myself (my body has finally stopped shaking), I know that every single one of these types of situations are different, and each bring with them they’re own set of risk and circumstances.  I’m not a copper (police) – so I felt bloody naked in this scenario, all i had working for me was my brain, my gob and my body language.  I’ve done this a few times over now – and it scares the absolute bejesus out of me every single time.  I hate it!  I hate violence – I abhor it!  I don’t know if I would have dropped this bloke if need be – or even if I could and I’m so very, VERY glad, I didn’t have to find out.

And do you know what the really sad part of this was for me?  If the situation hadn’t of been what it was – a pretty young lass who couldn’t walk away from the situation mostly due to factors beyond her control, an angry young man – if this had been an Aboriginal couple – drunk and barnying (fighting and arguing) in the street on a bench seat – people would have been immune to the scene, and simply walked on by.  You might think I’m pushing it there – but it’s true.  I’ve seen this behaviour more times then I could ever possibly count, and – I”m guilty of it too (for slightly different reasons).

And thanks to you lot – it’s now mulled over, and I can go home with it settled in my head!

I’ll worry for the lass though…

Belongum – Out!

About Belongum

People bring 'things' to me. Not necessarily PHYSICAL things as such - mostly just the loose bits and pieces floating around in their 'brain-box'. Sometimes, they also bring themselves - and THAT isn't anywhere near as simple as it sounds. I come here to pass some of this 'brain-box business' on to the ether world, and to empty my head. Besides folks - I love a good yarn - so come and join me!
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14 Responses to Ugly scene in the Hay St Mall today…

  1. Simone says:

    Wow, that’s full on. Glad there were people like you to help out in a way!

    But yeah, as I was reading this, I did think, I guess it’s not an aboriginal couple, because otherwise there wouldn’t have been so many people standing around and willing to help,,,, 😦

    I don’t know what I’d do in this situation… it’s not easy. I hope I’d do the same, be there nearby in case needed. But I’d obviously be happy if there was already other people and I wasn’t needed. :/


  2. TDM says:

    Way-ell… I spose you were v responsible, but personally as the owner of a v thick skull I know what my option would have been if I was the bird.

    But really it’s the whole ‘good victims’ and ‘bad victims’ trip – (Chomsky) some people due to societal conditioning – as you said – appear to be appealing or worthy victims. Vomitous to the maximus. The whole bizarro sexist trip makes me totally vexed.

    I can’t help but think, that if girls were ritually taught how to defend themselves as kids, they would take pride & responsibility for controlling what choices they make about their own space.

    I think you’re being a bit too chivalrous on principle B – on the street, things would seldom go past a few broken teeth or nose, maybe a mild concussion.


  3. belongum says:

    Simone – There are some parts of this that I’ve left out for a reason. It would make this young lass more readily identifiable – and I’m thinking I’ve done that enough already. But it was a conscious choice of the onlookers to intervene, because this particular ‘victim’ was one that most people there couldn’t walk away from. If it had been the other way around – they simply would have. As TDM has stated below – people choose to decide on who’s a Good victim or who’s a Bad victim… and they simply move along!

    DM… it’s still rattling around in my head this morning. I’m annoyed, and I really haven’t stuck it to the ‘Why’ yet.

    I wish I lived in a world where there was less ‘victims’ and more people who thought they had themselves the right to defend their person. Do you get the feeling that we’ve (our society) made the ‘female’ part of our population vunerable by ‘conditioning’ them mate (and by doing so – conditioning the ‘male’ half into thinking it’s their ‘right’ to victimise or view women in this way)?

    Responsible…? Hardly – just present I think. Worried. Scared. Annoyed. Shit… frustrated! And perhaps I’m feeling a little hypocritical myself… each time these things happen now – I get a little more aware of whether I want to take part in such situations anymore… and there was once a time where I wouldn’t have given that much thought at all. Get in there and help out! Now – well… now I’m getting ‘cautious’… and I wonder why?

    On the street used to be simply a case of ‘Biffo’, but it’s a little more unpredictable now – and maybe that has something to do with it? Got no solid answers cos I don’t know that it’s that simple – and who knows how I’ll be thinking on it next time it happens. Maybe that’s what’s really annoying me eh?!


  4. TDM says:

    Hey B., y’know it’s a beautiful thing when people care about others having hardships – compassion is so important for healing.

    I think all those things you listed are all a part of responsibility – being aware, alert – but not alarmed, making conscious choices, but more than anything being able to identify aggressive or intrusive behaviours before they turn into something more risky and that is important for women and girls, and it is also important for us as bystanders because we are our brothers’ keepers – who else could be & if we weren’t, what would happen? Responsibility and community cohesion starts with the individual.

    As a recipient sometimes that out-of-the-blue care and compassion can really be life changing.


  5. mummabare says:

    The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing – true una

    It is never acceptable to hit a woman, how can people know this is we don’t teach them.

    Your a good bloke hey, take time to process it 🙂


  6. jaded says:

    Talk about an overreaction. I know it probably wasn’t just about the food she couldn’t eat, but jeez, some people’s switches get flipped too easily.


  7. TDM says:

    “Do you get the feeling that we’ve (our society) made the ‘female’ part of our population vunerable by ‘conditioning’ them mate (and by doing so – conditioning the ‘male’ half into thinking it’s their ‘right’ to victimise or view women in this way)?”

    There’ll be some people who’ll growl at me for this, but in my experience – yes, girls are taught to be submissive.

    But that isn’t the end of it – for example, what about Walsham? If Walsham had have been a girl – if it had been a girl who was beaten up & left for dead, would the self-confessed assailants have been released?


  8. mez says:

    god, this kind of scene frightens me beyond belief. I know, from people close to me how difficult it is to remove yourself from a situation like this… I don’t even know what to say about it. It’s just terrible. He needs help and not to be with any partners until he’s better and she needs to get the hell out right now – but I somehow doubt that’s happening. It’s all too common.


  9. belongum says:

    Mummabare – sometimes I am… ta very much! 🙂 The bad arises when I contemplate how one teaches such lessons to people who do these things… my thoughts aren’t pleasant on this topic sadly!

    Hey JL – it’s good to ‘see’ you dropping by for a visit mate! 😉
    It was an overreaction on both sides of the coin – believe me! It escalated at a phenomenal rate, as overreactions are want to do… but that doesn’t excuse the behaviour I feel.

    Some people are perpetually buried in crisis – they live their life on such a fine edge (constantly) that it takes bugger all to tip them over… the ability to rationalise in this place – using ‘common sense’ (coff coff – that’s highly relative too!), just isn’t always available to most people I’ve met in these circumstances.

    The ability to survive here (in these lives) is often about ‘over-reaction’, or maybe another way of looking at this is an increased sense of hyper-awareness. It’s my thoughts that if you’re caught up in this shite – you probably will constantly be ‘over-reacting’, because you’re always on edge… does that make sense?

    TDM… it’s my feeling that society does this also. And yep – no doubt about it – if Walsham had of been a girl, it’d be a completely different kettle of fish!

    Mez… it’s a conundrum. You are intimately involved in it, and it fools you. You can’t step away from it, because I think there comes a time when it ‘becomes’ you, the ‘situation’ (bloke) messes with your head and your made to feel it’s what you deserve, that it’s your fault, that you’re not worth anything more. I can’t speak from personal experience of my own… just others I’ve supported who’ve been here. There’s a cleverly constructed and well weaved illusion that fools the victim into believing they CAN’T walk away from it… they ARE it – it’s them!

    How do you take something like that off you easily hmmm??? Buggred if I know… we need more strong empathetic women out there who can support these victims. Men too! But mostly – we need a society that doesn’t normalise this type of behaviour – simply by turning the other bloody cheek! “Good men to do nothing…” old Edmund was spot on there eh?! No irony lost in that too I guess eh?!


  10. enigma says:

    belli, you are a very, very wise, man, and if i wasnt married with children, and you wernt married with children…….well apart from sounding like a bad sitcom, you get the drift.


  11. enigma says:

    And on a serios note, I left my sons father when my baby was 6 months old because of his extreme violence, and part of my (non film) work now involves prison re-hab programs, where we work with men and the women to end domestic violance.


  12. belongum says:

    Get away with ya Enigma… or was that get away with ME Enigma??? lol 😉 Now stop that mate… you’ll make me blush!

    Your a strong woman then E… I takes me hat off to ya! I wish there was something I could say as a man that’d help some of those women to think they too could be strong enough to leave it (the violence) behind them… but it’s just not that simple now – is it?!

    Cheers mate 😉


  13. enigma says:

    No, it unfortunatly isnt that simple.I wish it was.
    And now i have that Corrs song in my head ‘I could run away with youuuuuu.” LOL


  14. lactatingbookworm says:

    Good on you for doing something. I remember reading about bystander apathy, it’s an actual psychological phenomenon where the more people there are in a situation the less likely someone will help. ie. it becomes someone elses problem. It’s pretty scary actually. I think it’s also known as Genovese syndrome because a woman named Kitty Genovese in the 60s NY was stabbed in front of many witnesses but still took 30 minutes to die because everyone else thought it was someone elses problem.
    I suppose that’s why no one ever does anything.
    I was in a theatre once and some old guy had a heart attack. The whole theatre just watched an old lady try to carry him out – I shouted out “someone help her” – there were quite a few strong men around – and people looked at me like I was an idiot.
    I just stumbled across your blog – good on you…

    I’ve seen it happen more times I then I could count LM… the only place I’ve never seen it become a problem is in the military. People are trained to MOVE or ACT on a situation… and I think this is it really. First Aid Training comes close to overcoming this… but it’s not being done anywhere nearly enough in our country I reckon. Thanks for dropping by – I hope you enjoy yourself mate… Cheers 😉


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