Illawarra men have called on their mates to step up and speak out against violence against women after two women suffered frightening ordeals in the Wollongong CBD over the weekend.
"It's frustrating that the narrative immediately becomes about safety - it shouldn't be on women to take responsibility for men's violence," Mick Baines, owner of BaiMed Physiotherapy said.
Mr Baines said the first step was for all men to have "open and honest" conversations with the women closest to them.
"If you go to the five women closest to you and ask them if they've experienced violence or harassments, I guarantee you will have an 'oh shit' moment," he said.
"Once you realise the statistics - that one in three women experience some form of assault or harassment - are true, then you need to start considering which of your mates could be the perpetrators."
The next step is to take pay attention to what's being said by friends, family members - and yourself.
"You begin to pay attention to the kinds of conversations people are having in dressing rooms, at barbecues," he said.
"Bad behaviour starts through language.
"If you're telling a story about something you've done, and you wouldn't want your nan to hear that story, that's a sign the behaviour that led you there is not OK.
"If we look at how our upbringing normalises predatory behaviour, that should scare the shit out of us.
"If you're encouraging a small woman to go shot-for-shot with you, that's predatory behaviour. We need to reflect and become better."
After the incidents on the weekend, which involved a man allegedly posing as an Uber driver to lure females into his car, a number of women on social media shared their strategies for staying safe.
Some opted to use a women-only rideshare service, others asked security to escort them to their car.
A number of women expressed interest in carrying a weapon, such as a small knife or knuckle dusters.
Martial artist, and owner of Garage Jiu Jitsu Bellambi, Ryan Walsh, said he understood the desire to feel safer, but carrying a weapon was more likely to do harm than good.
"With weapons, there is the potential to exacerbate the situation, and it's not too hard for the other person to gain hold of that weapon and use it against you," he said.
"Trying to injure, kill or maim another person is a last resort. If you can recognise a threat and remove yourself as soon as possible, that's always going to be the best self-defence."
He said the onus should not be on women to carry weapons or learn self-defence, but on men to hold each other accountable for their behaviour.
"If you see something that's not right, speak up," he said.
"Don't feel like you have to accept behaviour that's not okay from your friends or family members because of some kind of 'bro code'.
"If someone is doing something unacceptable it's on all of us to let them know that is not okay."
If someone is doing something unacceptable it's on all of us to let them know that is not okay- Ryan Walsh
It's not always easy to initiate a tricky conversation with a mate.
Jack Brown, of #talk2mebro, regularly encourages men to have the hard conversation about suicide.
He said opening up a chat about violence against women could be just as tough - and just as rewarding.
"We shouldn't be teaching women not to get raped, we need to teach men it's not okay to abuse women," he said.
"Everyone knows that, but there are different types of abuse, and if you've grown up in a traumatic environment, that becomes your normal. We have to get down to the crux of these hard conversations and talk honestly about how we feel.
"The people you want around you are the ones who will tell you when you're being a dickhead, so be that person for your mates.
"If you see something inappropriate step up. The only way we're going to solve this issue is in unity together."
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