Abuse won’t be tolerated

A LOCAL domestic abuse support service has described the verbal abuse of a performing musician at a local hotel at the weekend as “totally unacceptable”.

Kat Williams was playing a gig at a hotel with her band on Saturday night, which she said started like any other night.

However, one of the patrons at the hotel, a member of a Port Lincoln cricket club wearing the club’s uniform, began shouting abuse across the hotel’s front bar.

Ms Williams said the verbal abuse and sexual harassment went on for 30 minutes, with the patron using profanities that the Port Lincoln Times has chosen not to print.

Ms Williams said she tried to deal with the situation lightheartedly to begin with but as the verbal abuse continued she was at a loss as to how to handle the situation.

“We can deal with heckling but there is a difference between drunk heckling and verbal abuse,” she said. 

“They weren’t in my face, they were away from the stage a bit so what they were saying was being heard by other patrons inside and outside the establishment.”

Domestic abuse support service, Yarredi Services chief executive officer Sharon Potts said what happened was considered verbal abuse and sexual harassment and the affects of the behaviour could be “devastating”. 

She said quite often other people were afraid to stand up and call an abuser out but by not saying anything they were essentially “colluding”.

“I would say the people around who said nothing need to man up.

“To not say anything and let the abuse continue is pathetically cowardly.”

Mrs Potts said she hoped the incident would be used as an opportunity by all those implicated and involved to look at their processes and raise awareness.

She said drinking alcohol did not excuse the behaviour.

I know some people will applaud me and some people will tell me to harden up but I have hardened up and nothing changes and that’s why I’m speaking up.

Musician Kat Williams

Ms Williams said when some of the band’s regular supporters had had enough they tried to call the person out, only to be told to “lighten up”.

She said as a musician she was there to provide a service and was not responsible for keeping hotel patrons in line.

The hotel manager said the hotel did not condone the behaviour, that it was unacceptable and the man responsible for the abuse had been issued with a barring order. 

Ms Williams said the incident was demoralising and left her feeling angry and frustrated. 

“I know some people will applaud me and some people will tell me to harden up but I have hardened up and nothing changes and that’s why I’m speaking up.

“I’ve had a gutfull.”

The next day she posted about the abuse on Facebook and local musicians and members of the community began to express serious concern about the incident.

“I posted something in jest and people took it quite seriously and it actually made me look at it seriously and realise that it was quite horrible,” she said.

Ms Williams said she received two email apologies, one from the cricket club and the person responsible for the abuse, as well as a phone call from the cricket club’s president. 

The president of the club said it did not condone the behaviour displayed and the individual had issued an apology along with the club. 

“The club is dealing with the matter internally to penalise the individual and also to educate not only the individual, but reiterate to the everyone within our club, that this sort of behaviour is not tolerable,” the president said. 

Ms Williams said the issue was not about one club, association or one person’s behaviour and was an opportunity for everyone to take stock of the way they treated other people.

“This is not new news.

“Look out for your mates and if you see them going downhill and acting inappropriately pull them up on it,” she said.

“I wondered whether or not I should say anything but maybe now is the time to have a bit of tap dance about it because it’s not just me, it happens to other people as well and it needs to stop,” she said. 

If this article has raised any issues or concerns for you, you can call Yarredi Services on 1800 110 617, 8683 0311 or visit yarredi.org.au or call 1800 RESPECT.