Verbal abuse is completely unacceptable

The verbal attack on local musician and Port Lincoln Times employee Kat Williams at a gig at the weekend highlights a number of issues, not least of which is the concerning fact that it seems to be far from a one-off incident.

Ms Williams has said it was not an isolated incident and messages of support sent directly to her and a letter to the editor to the Port Lincoln Times have highlighted a number of other examples of musicans in particular being disrespected in their workplace.

It would be easy to write this incident off as an entertainer who should be used to this sort of behaviour or should “harden up”, rather than dealing with it for what it is, which is verbal abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Although this issue was probably never a secret sometimes it just takes one person to take a stand publicly for others to join them and send a message that this behaviour is not okay.

Whether or not alcohol was involved seems irrelevant when so many others can go out drinking and not act this way toward others.

It was not an easy decision for Ms Williams to put herself out there on this issue and her courage is admirable, it is just sad that it is necessary.

The sort of behaviour that was directed at her on Saturday night is completely unacceptable, full stop, regardless of whether the performer was male or female.

However, in this case, the subject of the abuse was female and the perpetrator was male.

In the lead up to White Ribbon Day on November 25 – an initiative driven by men which aims to stop violence against women – this incident has put a face to the issue and presented a good opportunity for us all to think about how it rears its ugly head in our own backyard.

The show of support for Ms Williams from other local musicians and the wider community in the wake of the incident is reassuring to see and perhaps the ‘water cooler’ discussions it has sparked in workplaces and among families and friends will make people think about where they draw the line and what they would have done if they were there.

This should not be the end of the discussion, hopefully it is the beginning.

White Ribbon encourages everyone in the community to stand up, speak out and act.

Kat Williams did it. We can too.