Jill Meagher. I thought my information was inconsequential

Z

It was not an attack, or a near rape or an attempted abduction. Well it certainly didn’t seem like it at the time. Just a nuisance. 

In July. I thought nothing of it. I mentioned it to my boyfriend a day or two later in passing. We shrugged. I’m a big girl, I live in the city, I travel alone late at night, these things happen all the time. No biggie.  I wasn’t scared. 

It was only after the constant calls to report anything, ANYTHING, no matter how small, to Crimestoppers to help Jill Meagher that this little incident began to amplify.

I did not want to seem like a bandwagon jumper, a time waster, an alarmist or a wuss but I called Crimestoppers yesterday morning after yet another tweet urging people to call. I’d discussed the incident to my boyfriend and housemates the night before and they’d encouraged me too. 

So the call to Crimestoppers went something like this;

“Look I’m really sorry, this is probably a waste of time and not helpful and I’m sure you’re really busy but they keep saying to report anything that may help find Jill Meagher and something happened to me in July. I was riding home along Sydney Road 1am Sunday morning. I don’t drink so alcohol was not a factor. I was near the corner of Albion Street and Sydney Road. A guy on the footpath said, “Excuse me”.  I took one look at him. He seemed slight and non descript but there was something a little menacing about him. Usually blokes at that time of night are loud, pissed, abusive, suggestive or in groups. I kept riding. As I did he walked off the footpath and on to the road and lunged at my bike trying to grab the pack rack/mudguard. I kept riding.”

“What did he look like?” asked Crimestoppers.

“Early thirties, sandy hair, jeans, blue hoodie. Norwegian/Finnish looking. Scandinavian.’

“Any accent?”

“No. Sorry. This is probably no help at all and sorry for wasting your time”

Crimestoppers were appreciative and thanked me for my call.

After I called Crimestoppers I tweeted to others thinking perhaps I could encourage someone out there who like me didn’t want to make a fuss, be accused of making something out of nothing or someone not wanting to feel or appear as a wuss who had useful information to give police a part of the puzzle. I did not think mine was. But one of the main reasons I called was to help awareness and accurate stats. 

About 6pm I arrived home and had a look at the footage just released in relation to Jill’s disappearance. In it there was a man who looked like the man who was a nuisance to me weeks before. I was shocked. I was not expecting that at all. Exactly like him. 

All I know is the man who hassled me looked just like the man in the CCTV  footage and was wearing the same clothes. I do not know for sure if he is the same man. Or if he had anything to do with the disappearance of Jill Meagher.

One of the other reasons I didn’t think to report the nuisance weeks or days before was that I assumed if a woman was taken from the street it would involve a car, being down a lane or involving some heavy looking fellas. Not a lone nondescript guy on the street who looked like an IT guy. Alone and on foot. With the opening line ‘excuse me.’ 

Like all of us I am deeply disturbed by the disappearance of Jill Meagher. It’s very close to home on many levels. The thing in the report that really resonated is as she left the bar her male work colleague asked if he could walk her home. She said no. Repeatedly.

Which would have been pretty much what I would have said.  Actually my response would have been more like, “Fuck off. Walk me home? Like you could protect me. I walk these streets all the time. Thanks sunshine. I grew up in Reservoir. I can look after myself.”

Anyone who wonders why I and people like me did not report it earlier do not realize how much unwanted attention women and girls get all the time. And how often when it is reported it’s dismissed. 

Steve Price and Andrew Bolt accused me of being responsible for Jill’s death LISTEN HERE for not reporting the minor nusiance.  So I suppose I’ll be in the slammer with this Brunswick woman was threatened by man with uncannily similarities to Jill Meagher’s killer.  Twice. She went to the police. No details of the incident were recorded.

This from Bek “How sad that each of us probably has dozens of these unreported incidents (the boy who touched me on the way up the waterside ladder at the local pool, the man who pinched my bottom as I walked between Myer stores in the city, the piano examiner who touched my breast while I played for my piano exam in Year 10, etc, etc…). If all this stopped, we might have less trouble spotting the really dangerous guys.”

If women reported every drunk, creep, loony or fuckwit who hassled them the cops would have to multiply their numbers by a thousand and still be flat out. 

I ride all over Melbourne. I never feel scared and I experience unwanted attention from dickheads and creeps in EVERY suburb. I find Brunswick and particularly well-lit busy Sydney road one of the places I deal with the least amount of bullshit. 

This morning I was inundated by calls and door knocks from media maggots wanting to ‘make content’ from the disappearance of Jill Meagher. Sickening.

I am happy to help Jill Meagher, her family, Vic Police and trusted associates. I am NOT happy to enable media vultures veiling content as ‘concern’. Mainstream media, particularly tabloids, talk back radio and A Current Affair thrives on the horror, grotesque and sensationalist.

My considerations are these. How can I help? How can I encourage people to speak out? How can I make sure the emphasis stays on the investigation and not on anything else?

Who do I trust to not use this terrible situation to whip up fear, accusations or ratings? 

Not you 3AW (Neil Mitchell referred, to Jill as a ‘party girl’ who may have gone partying)  Channel Seven, Today Tonight or the Herald Sun. 

I spoke to The Age, Chrissie Swann and Jon Faine. Because I trust them.

If you would like to be informed and not emotionally manipulated may I suggest you consume your media from ABC. 

What has happened to Jill Meagher is horrible but not common. Keep in mind the most dangerous place for a girl or woman is not on the street late at night but IN HER OWN HOME. She is most likely to be killed or injured by not only by a man she knows but one she is related to.

My tips for women wanting to feel safe. Buy a bike, use main roads and learn self-defence. You cannot rely on ‘a man walking you home’. Nor should you want to. Your city sister. Walk wherever you like. 

Women, men and children should be able to walk the street when they want, where they want wearlng whatever they want.

Men are far more likely to cop violence on the street. So why is no one telling them not to walk alone?

Don’t tell me not to walk alone at night. Tell people not to rape and kill.

If like me you thought your information was inconsequential please call Crimestoppers 1800 333 000

Colette sent me this, which explains why we don’t report these frequent occurrences. She generously allowed me to publish it. Thanks Colette. 

Hi Catherine,

In the past couple of days I have heard a senior policeman say that women should report incidents to the Police when they happen and it got me thinking about some of the ‘incidents’ that have happened to me over the years. What if all women reported these ‘incidents’ throughout our lives, where would we start and where would we stop. 

Should I start with my grade 2 school excursion where the boys pulled me into their compartment, blocked the door, tossed me from side to side of the compartment, pulled my dress up and pulled my pants down till I screamed and cried enough for them to let me go.  I didn’t tell anyone about that.

What about when I was about 10 years old and out riding my bike with my friend, you know back when it was safe to let your kids go off and ride their bikes all day. There we were riding along the footpath and when crossing over a creek a guy called out and we looked down and saw him lying on the creek bank with his pants down and masturbating… “Come over” he said… we didn’t tell anyone about that.

What about when I was 15 and working Saturday mornings in a supermarket and the boss would trap me in the bench seat of the break room and rub his hands up and down my legs.  I told my workmate about that and she said he did it to her too.

What about when this same boss would get me in a big bear hug so that his arm went all the way around my body and his hand cupped my breast, yes I was not alone there either.

What about when a male teacher threw a girl against the door of the classroom breaking the window in the door… good catholic girls school, I’m pretty sure our principal (Sister Patricia) was told about that but he was still there when I left 3 years later.

What about when I went on holidays with 2 girlfriends at the age of 18 and we were lying in the botanic gardens in Adelaide reading books and a man came up and lay down on his side facing us and started masturbating… oh actually we did report that one.  We were at the beach in Glenelg the following day and we saw him and so we went to the Police Station and told them and they laughed at us.

What about when I was travelling at the age of 21 through Europe with a girlfriend.  We were on a night train and she got up to go to the toilet and I saw a man follow her down the train carriageway so I got up to see if she was all right.  She wasn’t alright, this man had my friend pinned up against the wall of the train with his hand at her throat and my appearance and yelling at him sent him running back along the passage.  We didn’t tell anyone about that.

I can’t imagine being taken seriously if I had reported any of these ‘incidences’, and that is part of the problem, it should all be taken seriously because it is all serious and disturbing and heartbreaking terribly terribly common. 

 Crimestoppers 1800 333 000

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