— Trigger and Content Warning —
Like with the “Friendship Breakup” series, over the next few weeks, I’ll be answering commonly asked questions surrounding, specifically, Dr Ford and the entire fiasco that we just watched.
As this topic is of a sensitive nature, and many of you may have questions or stories you’d like to share or have answered, please feel free to drop a message in my Facebook inbox or DM me on my Instagram, @thingscarlaloves. You do not have to share your story in the comment section (or anywhere else) if you do not feel comfortable.
As always, there will be a list of helpline services added, if you need help. I strongly urge that you confide in someone you trust in order to help you heal.
Shortly before I would break up with my abusive ex, I was out with my best friend, B, and her older siblings and their partners and friends. It was Boxing Day, which, in my hometown, means excessive drinking and partying.
I’ve not a huge drinker, so I decided to say goodbye earlier – I don’t quite remember the time, but I imagine it wouldn’t have been too late. (Partly because drinking, and partly because I knew my ex would get angry with me if I stayed out later than acceptable.)
I was starving, as I hadn’t eaten since at least lunch, so I decided to walk from the pub to McDonald’s before calling a taxi.
I arrived at McDonald’s just before closing (I grew up in a small town, and this was years ago, well before any small towns would have 24/7 McDonald’s … let alone anything else).
I ordered a meal, waited at the tables outside while ordering my taxi, as I watched the staff close up the store.
I then watched as a group of young men – five or six – arrived, also intoxicated – probably from drinking the entire today (as is tradition on Boxing Day in my hometown. Seriously – Maryborough’s won the Guinness World Record for biggest pub crawl before).
The group of men quickly became far more interested in me than in the food they’d originally sought. I tried to move away, still in the light of the now-closed McDonald’s, but to make it clear to the group that I was waiting for someone.
It didn’t work.
Apparently, one of the guys in particular was very interested in me, and his guy friends wanted to continue to remind me of this.
I want to make a few things very clear: Firstly, nothing happened. Secondly, I have no idea if anything would have ever happened – and that’s not at all my point.
Despite trying to move away, trying to not engage in conversation as best as possible, the group of men continued to try and encourage a conversation. They also wanted to press upon me, in no uncertain terms, that I should definitely give my number to the guy that ‘really, truly’ wanted to date me.
I deliberately mentioned my abusive ex before, and pointed out that I’d left early because I was afraid of his reaction if I stayed out too late, because I want to make my actual point crystal clear.
I ended up giving the guy my phone number because I was more afraid of the group – and not doing what they wanted – than I was of my abusive ex.
I can understand what some people – men, in particular – might be thinking: They were just being nice. What the hell’s wrong with you?
Well, what’s wrong with me is the very fact that men murder women each year purely for rejecting them.
That group of men may not have ever even considered harming me, in any kind of way – no matter how I rejected them. If I had asked them to leave them alone, there’s a likely possibility they would have walked away.
However, it was a risk I couldn’t take. A group of men can be dangerous. Saying no to a man can be dangerous.
A group of intoxicated men pissed off can be incredibly fucking dangerous, and contrary to popular belief, judges and the judicial system frequently blame the victim.
I had already sent every single non-verbal cue I could to dissuade them. I’d tried to make it as clear as possible – including moving away from them several times and limiting my conversation as much as possible – but they either were oblivious to my cues or they didn’t care.
I knew that, unless I wanted to become more vocal and aggressive, they were not interested in my non-verbal ‘no’s’.
I also knew that the side of town I was on was now rather empty, and if things were to take a turn for the worst, it would be unlikely anyone would hear me scream.
My fear of what could happen trumped my fear of what my ex would say and do when he found out I gave out my number to another man: Therefore, I gave out my number.
So what’s my point? (Because women and minorities will most likely get it. You know that fear that I’m talking about. You know what I mean when I say that the possibility is more terrifying than anything else you could possibly imagine. You’ve all heard the stories of things our worst nightmares can’t produce. You all know what happens when you let down your guard. You all know what could happen. You all know someone it has happened to.)
This is for the men – the decent ones, not the ones that deliberately prey on the vulnerable, because we all know they don’t give a fuck.
What you’d most likely see in this situation is a group of men complimenting a sort-of pretty woman. You’d think my thoughts are irrational, and that I was being a man-hating bitch, being completely unreasonable.
But, think about it. And I mean really think about it.
A young woman, alone at night, waiting for a taxi.
A group of intoxicated men, who were persistent in the pursuit.
If I’d said no, and the worst had happened, what then?
What would you say?
Would you say that I should’ve been more careful, like what the Victorian police said about Eurydice Dixon?
If I’d been viciously murdered, would I be reduced to some headline, a “thing”, like Larissa Beilby?
Would my death be covered by MRAs and anti-feminists as a problem not created by men, but by myself, for somehow not being careful enough, like Claire Lehmann suggested in her opinion article in The Australian?
Or would more sympathy be given, like with the brutal rape and murder of Jill Meagher?
If the worst were to happen, how many of you would be quick to blame me? You’d question how much I’d drunk – unlikely more than three or four drinks for the entire day – but question me nonetheless.
You’d ask how I contributed to ‘what happened’, like you did with the victim in Brock Turner’s case.
You’d discuss what I was wearing – and it wouldn’t matter if it was jeans and a top, because if the worst were to happen, obviously I did something.
But mostly, you’d dismiss me, because how dare I view a group of intoxicated men as potentially threatening?
It’s my fault if I don’t take the threat seriously and something happens.
But somehow I’m a man-hating bitch who’s oversensitive and overdramatic for acknowledging my surroundings and how unsafe they are.
You can’t have it both ways.
The situation, whether you realise it or not, did need to be treated as an unsafe one. I had no way of knowing if I would set them off, or what would happen if I made them mad.
I’ve covered before what happens when you say no – and that wasn’t in a secluded part of time, at night, surrounded by a group of drunk men.
So, the next time you see a lone woman, consider how your presence might make her feel.
Pay attention to her non-verbal cues. If she doesn’t seem interested, take it at face value. Give her space.
In Emergencies: 000
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
— Sources —
Bachelor of Education: English and History
Diploma in Criminology and Profiling
Diploma in Forensic Science
Background in law and psychology
Teacher 7+ years
Background in special needs, learning support – other specific teaching fields that required hands-on development.
NB: This is a declaration of the background of my personal knowledge, collected over the years via a professional form of education and development. Some of these take the form of actual degrees and others come in the form of necessary professional development. When doing your own, you should always try and verify the person’s credibility. My credibility, nor anyone else’s, is not with their education. Everyone has biases and no one is infallible. I am deliberately including some of my background education to highlight this, because you should be questioning information you are receiving.