Recording and reporting incidences of suspicious activity, intimidation, abuse, or attempted violencePosted: September 29, 2012
I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t been harassed at night. The harassment that I’ve experienced from strangers at night, in various locations in my home city and in public places, has been minimal compared to others I know. I’ve been lucky in that regard. These incidents have featured either racial vilification or sexual inappropriateness (in two instances, both). But even after these sporadic, infrequent incidents, I never properly reported or discussed them with anyone other than maybe a friend here or there. A good night’s rest and the activities of the week were enough to help me forget the discomfort, I’d chalk it down to drunk dickheads being drunk dickheads, and pretty soon I was feeling cavalier and free to move around again. Perhaps this is problematic.
Only on one occasion have I genuinely feared for my safety. Years ago I was living interstate, it was late at night, I was extremely tired and trying to get home. A man walked up beside me, then followed me a good way down a street, talking at me, asking for my name and what I was doing out that night. When I refused to engage in conversation he spoke more aggressively. He then started saying some things that indicated he may be mentally unstable, and my intuition was telling me, strongly: “DANGER”. Inwardly I started to feel stress, as I was experiencing some internal health issues at the time and knew that if I needed to I would not physically be able to run. Thankfully, a cab was parked further up the street, and so, with the man still loudly talking at me, I walked as fast I could to the cab, got inside, and got the fuck out of there.
Yet, I didn’t report it, because, of course, he hadn’t physically made contact with me. His behaviour and aggression (and in particular the things he was saying) in hindsight were worrying – the thought of that guy intimidating another person in the same way is disturbing. And even though I endeavour never to be too emotionally drawn into highly personal news stories (indeed, I absolutely recoil from such involvement… bad for the psyche and detrimental to the capacity to think objectively), seeing that CCTV footage in the Meagher case this week made me feel ill, and irrationally guilty – because of the familiarity of the scenario. Clearly, a lot of people felt that familiarity. But in my case, what would I have reported? A man who looked like this, who was wearing that, walked with me up a street, got agitated and aggressive when I wouldn’t respond to his unnerving questions, yet continued walking with me until a cab driver (to my eternal gratitude) got out of his drivers side door and spotted me heading towards his vehicle. Is that enough to report?
YES, actually, it is. I now realise. You never know how bits of information fit together. Your description of the behaviour of a person who acts in a suspicious manner, or who intimidated or threatened you in a specific location at a particular time may match the behaviour of an alleged offender in another incident you don’t even know about. It’s doubtful that I would have remembered any real details about that man’s appearance even by the time I got home (particularly as I was trying not to look at him or encourage conversation) but I knew his hair colour, the time and place, what he was wearing, and that there was a possibility this fellow was captured on security cameras in the area. And obviously I knew his behaviour – what he said, his body language. So however insignificant you think the information you have is, please, record it (to keep the details fresh) and report it, anyway. As soon as possible after it occurs. And let the Police make the judgment call on whether that information is useful.
Call Crimestoppers: 1800 333 000
The Australian Federal Police have THIS missing person’s website with profiles of missing person’s cases that have been provided by the State and Territory police – who knows where these people are, or what happened to them. Though the vast majority of people reported missing in Australia are found within a short period of time, there remains approximately 1,600 long-term missing persons – those who have been missing for more than six months. If you can, have a look… maybe you have some information that could help resolve a case.
We had a FANTASTIC and packed exhibition opening on Thursday night in Brunswick East. I will post about it soon – busy at the moment and feverish today after getting caught in the rain yesterday.
As the exhibition crowd eventually dispersed, and I saw people walking away in various states of inebriation, I felt slightly uneasy, though. Not because I’m paranoid, or think that Melbourne is populated by a shadow army of opportunistic criminals. Or that simply by walking solo on a street, either sober or not, you are putting out an invitation for unsolicited attention, or worse. But, clearly, this is an imperfect world. Sometimes it pays to err on the side of caution, and you are worth protecting.
Going home with a buddy is always more fun, anyway 🙂