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On Saturday night at Troika bar in Melbourne, a man grabbed me from behind, pinning my body against him while he groped my breasts. I broke away and ran back to my friends. We reported to the bar manager that another patron had just assaulted me and his response was “Yeah, I saw it. He’s just a bit drunk, she’s making a drama. Call the police if you want, we’re not doing anything about it”.
So the cause of the “drama” was not a man molesting a woman against her will, but the woman objecting to it.
The bar manager said he wouldn’t eject the guy because he was part of a large party that had booked to be there. The fact that he saw, did nothing, and then still did nothing once confronted about it shows how confident he has learned he can be in the face of these kinds of situations.
By refusing to take seriously what he saw with his own eyes – and let’s be honest here, even if he doesn’t think it’s a big deal to be groped by a stranger, the law on assault is pretty clear – he sent a strong message to me and the other women in our group.
The message was this: sexual assault is just part of life. Men grope women when they’re drunk. It’s a woman’s lot – get over it. I care more about the money I’m making from this group’s booking than I do about your physical integrity.
To be constantly subjected to “low level” violence like groping and cat-calling is to be constantly reminded that we are vulnerable, and that at any moment we could be overpowered and raped. These acts exist on a continuum of violence that serves to maintain the status quo where women live in fear.
The reality is that the bar manager can actively value his profits and reputation over the safety and wellbeing of his patrons because the status quo will support and protect him, and most people will be too underconfident in their own voices to rise against it.
Well, I am rising against it. The guy who assaulted me has been reported to the police, as has Troika bar. I am telling all my friends. I’m posting here. I’m resisting the urge to downplay what happened to me by comparing it to worse situations. I’m making noise and I won’t stop until rape culture is stamped out.
A note from your Hollaback! Melbourne team: following the huge response to this submission we have written a response which can be found here and addresses the main issues that have arisen as a result of the story.
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