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Let the memory of Grace Millane change our attitudes

The Grace Millane Trial will hopefully achieve two things. Ensure that justice occurs, and provide an opportunity for something good to come from a horrific act.

While we don’t know all the facts, it is commonly known that people who commit violence towards women are often already hiding in plain sight. It is the escalation of their behaviour and violence which forces society to act, but all too often it is too late.

“Often a perpetrator’s attitudes and behaviour will be known to their mates,” says White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann. “Unfortunately we excuse unacceptable behaviour or look the other way because we have this idea that’s how men are supposed to behave.”

“We are socialised to believe we should score girls, mimic pornography and treat women as conquests rather than human beings. This behaviour is seen by some as manly, but ultimately, it’s unhealthy and bad for both men and women.”

“If there’s one lesson we can learn from the memory of Grace Millane, it’s that doing nothing is not acceptable, says Mr McCann.

If you hear someone say something disrespectful or displaying unhealthy behaviours such as harassing women, telling inappropriate jokes, picking a fight, etc., there are a few things you can do to challenge the language or behaviour. By doing nothing we are effectively condoning the behaviour. You can use one or more of the 4Ds:

• be Direct - challenge them verbally ‘that’s not cool, bro’
• Distract - get them to do something else, or ask a question of the person who is on the receiving end of the unhealthy behaviour to engage them in conversation (useful if you don’t feel safe being direct)
• Delegate - talk to someone else about what is going on. Ask their friend/parent/workmate/boss what they think of the behaviour and if there is anything they can do to address it. Work together to see what you could do.
• Delay - it might not always feel safe to intervene or challenge at the time, depending on the situation, so you can ask them later about whether they realised their behaviour was harmful, or ask the person who might have been on the receiving end how they are.

“Having a courageous talk with your mates can not only save a life,” says Mr McCann, “it can prevent a whole range of behaviour from rape to casual sexism, undermining the attitudes that underpin violence towards women.”


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