By MARY LOU STEPHENS
I was a lot younger than I am now when it happened. And I was a lot more idealistic. I was sitting in a pub with my boyfriend and his mates.
A man and a woman I didn’t know began to fight nearby. The fight turned violent. He hit her. More than once. More than twice. I waited for my boyfriend and his mates to do something. To tell the man to stop. To protect the woman. They did nothing. They steadfastly ignored what was happening only metres away.
“Aren’t you going to do anything?” I asked them.
They didn’t answer. They wouldn’t even look at me.
“I’m going to stop this,” I said and stood up.
My boyfriend put his hand on my arm. “It’s none of our business.”
I shrugged his hand off and moved away. The couple were screaming at each other. He grabbed her hair and pulled her head back. She was crying, her face red from where he’d hit her.
“Hey,” I said. “Stop it.”
The man span around to look at me. “What?”
“Stop it. Leave her alone.”
And he did. He left her alone and strode over to me. “This is none of your business,” he said, echoing my boyfriend words. He was angry, drunk and wild-eyed.
“Well, if it’s none of my business don’t do it near me. You do it in front of me, you make it my business.”
What did I expect? Did I think he’d see reason? Did I imagine he’d stop, think about it and say, “You know what, you’re right. Sorry.”
Wrong. This was a man who hit women. This was a man who hit women in public and didn’t care who saw him do it.
This was a man who didn’t think twice in picking up a beer bottle and taking a swing at me. I got my arm up to block the blow. I thought he would stop after that.
I thought my boyfriend would intercede, after all surely it was his business now. Wrong again. The man took another swing at me. I wasn’t expecting it.
Luckily the beer bottle was full. Luckily the bottle didn’t smash. I was almost knocked unconscious but I was not cut.
The man dropped the bottle and ran. The woman ran after him. My boyfriend offered to take me to hospital.