I know it happens but I’m really struggling to make sense of random acts of violence against women. On Friday night a young woman and her friend were coming home from a night out. It was late. They had gotten a taxi to the bottom of our road and decided to walk the two minutes to their house – as I often do. Not a hundred meters from their door, this coward came out of nowhere and jumped one of the girls from behind. He held her in a vice grip and flung her against a car, while he patted her down so to speak. We can only imagine to see if there was anything valuable on her person. He then reached for her bag. I don’t know if it was the booze or just instinct but she wouldn’t let go so they struggled. He eventually knocked her viciously to the ground and ran off, bag in hand. All the while the two women were screaming. The friend trying to get him off her. My mum and my boyfriend heard the screams and came running out but it was too late. He was gone.
It’s taken me a while to process this. I was so shaken (even though I didn’t even witness any of it). I awoke to strange voices downstairs and I got a fright. I didn’t know what was going on. I came down to find these three traumatized girls in my house (another girl had witnessed the whole thing – she crazily enough was walking home alone at 3am). And I found myself so distraught at their ordeal and not being able to help them. But now that I’ve had some distance from it I realise I’m angry. I’m f**king angry that they were put through this. I’m angry that this thug could pick on two women and just take what he wants. This poor girl will be scarred now. Hopefully not forever but she will hold it with her and it will be something she needs to overcome. Simply because some opportunistic predatory saw a moment of vulnerability. That is so unfair.
I know shit happens. I know this girl is probably so grateful today that he didn’t try anything more. She could have been seriously injured. Or worse. If it had been the other girl walking on her own god knows what could have happened. But it’s not good enough. It’s not right that he can lie in wait and strike because he feels like it. Or that we have to rationalize it because we are women and we are therefore more vulnerable. I don’t want to be that way. But I feel so powerless in a society where (some) men can do this and get away with it. The guards (Irish police) were great. They were on the scene immediately. They sent another squad car and did a sweep of the area but they didn’t find him. They probably won’t. How will they? The girls could barely give them a description of him. It was dark and it happened so fast.
This topic is huge. There are so many things I could talk about here. There’s the attack itself. The argument of women walking alone. The fact that it could have been more violent. The fact that he probably won’t be caught. Then if he is will he get a proper sentence? How can they ensure he won’t re-offend? And what about her? The victim? How will she get over this? But the core thing for me is how these acts impact our freedom. I’ve already posted a message on FB dutifully warning my girlfriends. Telling them to be vigilant, not to walk alone late at night. I feel like a talking machine spewing out the well worn advice. But I have to. Ever since the death of Jill Meagher in Melbourne and Karen Buckley in Glasgow I feel we need to speak out more. I know this wasn’t a sexual attack [though a woman was sexually assaulted in the area a week before]. But it shouldn’t matter. Any aggression towards a woman should not be tolerated. He didn’t chose two men walking up the road. He knew what he was doing and it is up to us to speak out and make it not okay.
I’m sitting on my bed writing this. Listening to my mum play classical music in the kitchen below and the neighbours laugh and giggle in the house across the way. It’s 9pm and outside is the most beautiful pink sky, a sign of a bright and beautiful day to come. I find solace in it somehow. The world is exceptional and we can let these creeps ruin it for us.