'Without warning he king hit me in the face'

Eden Medway.

Eden Medway.

Eden Medway, 31, was at a small bar in the centre of Melbourne when an unprovoked attack left her with devastating physical injuries. More than a year on, the scars may have healed but the psychological effects have not. The man who attacked her - she doesn’t know his name nor what he looks like - pleaded guilty to various offences and is awaiting sentence.

Eden, a team co-ordinator and university student, tells her story:

I was determined to have a lovely night with good friends. I dressed nicely, took time doing my hair and make-up. I was going to celebrate the recent engagement of two close friends at a private function, in a nice bar in the CBD.

Eden on the night of her attack.

Eden on the night of her attack.

I don’t remember exactly what came next. I can only recall parts of the night, snippets of conversation, vague recollections of new faces. I’ve had a whole year to force my mind to reveal the details, but it still refuses. I don’t blame my body.

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From what people tell me, a man I had never met put me over his shoulder, carried me to the other side of the room and forcibly kissed me. I very quickly walked away and this would appear to have enraged him. He approached me and, without warning, king hit me in the face.

I remember the cracking sound. I remember the sudden, blinding pain. The next thing I knew I was on the floor. I was being moved to behind the bar. I couldn’t see. I think I was crying. People were everywhere. Voices, some familiar, were saying “There could be glass in her eye”.

I wondered if that was the reason I couldn’t see. My face was warm and wet, and when I moved, there was pain. The ambulance came and I was taken to hospital. I kept thinking that everyone was overreacting. They only give those green puffers [painkillers] to people who are seriously hurt, why were the giving one to me? I couldn’t understand the severity of the situation I was in.

I was scared. Alone in a hospital, doctors came and looked at me. Could I move my toes? Hands? What was my name?  I was put in a neck brace. I was sent for an MRI. I was given a tiny pill that made me want to laugh at how stupid this all was. At some stage I became aware of a cut on my face, and the warm wet feeling on it was blood. 

A doctor came to tell me my face had been broken in multiple places. I would need surgery - a metal plate and a few pins inserted into my skull to keep my eye socket together.

Detectives came to ask me questions. They took photos of my face - covered in blood, swollen up like fat, bald hedgehog; and my arm which had clearly taken my weight when I fell was black and swollen.

When going to the bathroom, I saw myself in the mirror.  One side of my face was swollen as if someone had squashed a grapefruit into my eye socket, my eye was unable to open.

Dark blotches of bruise were appearing under my skin, and when I pulled my eyelids apart I saw the blood pooling in what should have been the white of my eye. I looked like a zombie. Or a car crash victim. I looked broken.

That was a year ago. People who don’t know me can look at my face and not know what happened. But I can see that my left eyelid droops more than the right. I can see the scars from the cuts, but I cover them with make-up pretty well. The incision scar is raised and painful to touch but not visible.

It took about eight weeks before I could feel all my teeth again. Another six months before I could open my jaw enough to eat most foods. I have regained feeling in my cheek, but I get horrific headaches around the areas that fractured and sometimes they’re so bad I can’t lie on that side, I can’t sleep, and painkillers do nothing to lessen the ache. I still have trouble with tough foods, and yawning too widely can cause a sharp, snapping-like pain.

Psychologically, is a different story. I get very nervous in crowds. My palms get sweaty when I think about getting on a packed train. I get jumpy when people get too close to my face. I much prefer to stay at home alone on a weekend night than to go out to pubs, I find peace being in what I know is a safe space but it makes those times when I do have to go out a bit of a challenge.

I have nightmares about being forced into surgery, or being told I’ve lost my sight, or the bones aren’t healing, or of people I love being horrifically hurt. The slightest bump near my face will instantly recall the whip-crack pain of his fist smashing into my skull. And following that is the tsunami of fear and hurt, anger and shame.

And worse than that is I’ve lost my faith in people. I dare to only trust those I am already close to, and will quickly and easily remove those I doubt from my life. I have no desire to date anyone, to know new people, even though I am forcing myself to do the latter.

My underlying sense of most people being mostly good has changed forever. And I cannot help but internalise it. Everyone has told me that I did nothing wrong, that he was just insane, that he was spoiling for a fight and would have hit someone sooner or later. And I do know all that. But what I feel is so different.

Maybe it’s my need to rationalise, to understand in order to prevent it from happening again but I keep coming back to one single idea: what kind of person am I that a stranger can choose to inflict this sort of violence and hatred upon me?

He has pleaded guilty, as far as I know, and will be sentenced in the coming weeks. I’ve been asked what sort of sentence I want and I honestly can’t say. No sentence imposed on him changes what has happened to me.

I want to say that I hope he receives counselling, anger management, I hope he is scared enough to never raise his fist again. I will continue to say that I believe in the inherent goodness of all people because I hope, beyond everything else, to one day believe that again.

183 comments

  • What is it with violence, un provoked violence, against people minding their own business, against women? What sort of mindless, gutless savage king hits a woman - or a man as witnessed here or even more recently on the weekend in Sydney.
    What's the remedy? 2 years good behaviour bonds insn't going to change anything, jail even less. Should the offenders be deprived of their liberties? Absolutely but just locking them up like the chickens they are isn't going to address the underlying mental health issues, it will only act to exasserbate them, making the next attack more cowardly, brutal, unnessecary, preventable.
    Get well Eden.

    Commenter
    Gerard
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    June 07, 2013, 8:45AM
    • Does anyone else notice the terrible double standards in the media - in the SMH there are two stories about victims who have been punched in the head - and yet at the same time there was an incident in a football game where a player punched an opponent who wasn't expecting it (he had his hands by his sides) in the head - but the SMH has promoted this as "a great origin moment" and today there is another article saying the victim had it coming as a get square from 12 months ago. You might ask why football is relevant to this story - but the point is that many more people - and in particular men - will be following that story rather than this one. And the attitude of the league authorities and the media is that punching someone in the head is ok - because that's what real men do when they get fired up.
      Anyone who starts a fight/assault by punching someone in the head is committing a crime - if you really want to rub out this behaviour - start with the role models for young men and kids.

      Commenter
      Tim
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 10:11AM
    • i am in full agreement with sundance, there is no place for such animals in society, the sentences these people get for runing another persons life are a joke,
      possibly time to go to back to weekly hangings in town hall for the people who are a waste of space and a drain on society, Most likley never contributed to society in the first place and when they get to jail we get to support them again by wasting our taxes on them, i would rather they not be here...

      Commenter
      one
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 10:27AM
    • This actually happens to men far more often than it happens to women. Gender is not an issue here

      Commenter
      Ailie
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 10:32AM
    • I fully agree. May be we should look at a very big contributor to violence. Alcohol, for example.
      Make it very expensive. Extremely expensive, so that you can only drink very little when you are out.
      Increase taxes dramatically. I know that some people will be disadvantaged, but benefits outweigh that latter dramatically. I am not sure what we are waiting for until we wake up to such a realization that alcohol fuels violence and destroys lives. Until then, reduce or stop drinking.

      Commenter
      wsar
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 10:36AM
    • What are the odds drugs are involved? Amphetamines? Ice? More commonly used recreationally by normal everyday people than I would have ever believed.

      What is missing in Western culture when people are wounded is a genuine apology and act of contrition from the perpetrator at the appropriate time. Despite having witnessed how cathartic and effective that can be whilst deployed overseas its not how things are done here in Aus. I don't see victims getting any sense of justice at all no matter the fine, diversion order or period of incarceration.

      At least he pleaded guilty. Maybe some hope there.

      It sounds as though Eden has some symptoms of PTSD. Not surprising and from the writing it sounds like early days with the injuries and the headspace.

      I'd definitely also see a Dentist about what might be stress induced "nocturnal bruxism" causing some TMJ symptoms. Very common and some of those symptoms sound pathognomonic. A splint might alleviate a lot of those facial pains.

      Best of luck on a tough long road.

      Commenter
      MattG
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 10:53AM
    • I think its got a lot to do with the way they are bought up, parents letting kids do what they want, being told they are the best, no discipline, no repercussions, and schools can't discipline any more. Then we have all the sexualisation of women to sell products, ubiquitous porn on the net, et al! Its a sad indictment on our society.

      Commenter
      shemp
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 11:06AM
    • Completely agree. Their mental state has to be address because this is not normal behaviour. It's sickening. My thoughts are with Eden.

      Commenter
      carls
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 11:26AM
    • Absolutely agree with Tim and Gerard, this behaviour is just unacceptable. They definitely need to do something about it when "role models" like the footy players Tim mention get away with it in the media as something deserved when they are fired up; hitting someone is NEVER acceptable, not even on the sports field.

      Why do people go out on a weekend looking for a fight? I just don't get it. And to be honest it's this aggressive attitude that seems so prevalent in the city regardless of if a fight actually occurs that just makes me not want to go out on a weekend anymore, would rather catch up with my mates than go out.

      Commenter
      Benimus
      Location
      Melbourne-am-Yarra
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 11:27AM
    • I agree with the majority of the comments but not the death penalty; countries with the death penalty still have crime. My concern is that as a society we don't do enough to condemn this sort of behaviour. I think people are afraid to step up and say something to the bullies because you honestly don't know if they're drunk or on drugs and if they will turn on you. And that's wrong. We should be more responsible as a society and yes, I'm old fashioned enough to agree that a lack of discipline is probably a factor. Children need guidance and discipline and that starts at home; when they don't get it they grow up to be undisciplined adults and combine that with alcohol or drugs and they are out of control. I sincerely hope that in time Eden will find the confidence to enjoy her life again and be able to trust people.

      Commenter
      cayenne
      Location
      wyoming central coast
      Date and time
      June 07, 2013, 12:06PM

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