Can what you're wearing make you a victim?

Street chaplains like Rob Kerruish learn to identify and defuse potentially dangerous situations.
Street chaplains like Rob Kerruish learn to identify and defuse potentially dangerous situations. Troy Kippen

WHAT you wear can make you a target for sexual predators, but it's not about how much you are wearing.

That's what Mackay's street chaplains have learnt through sexual health education provided by Queensland Health.

Street chaplain Rob Kerruish said in his research into sexual health he had learnt that empowered behaviour and dressing confidently made a person less of a target than someone who was dressing "meekly".

"It's predator behaviour. A woman or man who dresses confidently is less of a target than someone who dresses meekly," he said. "It's instinct. A lion will always seek out the weaker animal in the pack."

It was the same with assault or robbery, any crime involving a victim, Mr Kerruish said.

But he reiterated that while what you wore could make you more of a target for a predator, it should not be and in no circumstances was it ever the victim's fault.

"If you're looking for a fight, then you're not going to pick out the biggest person in the room," he said.

As an example, Mr Kerruish recounted an incident while on patrol one night when street chaplains came across a woman crying and sitting on a public bench on Victoria St.

"She had been separated from her friend and had lost her phone," he said. A man she didn't know had come up to the seat beside her and was talking to her and comforting her.

"This girl was crying and appeared vulnerable," he said. "This was possibly predatory behaviour by this bloke."

The chaplain had asked the woman if she knew the man, if she was okay with the situation, and then promised to return in half an hour to see if she was okay.

Education about the psychology of sexual predators is only a part of the training street chaplains do to prepare for their job of looking after people on Mackay's city centre streets at night.

The volunteers also learn basic self defence and first aid.

They learn about potentially dangerous situations and how to disfuse those situations, and to get people where they need to be to be safe. That could be in a taxi on the way home, or at the 'chill out' site in the city centre.

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