When Charmyne Palavi spoke out against Australia's sexist football culture she knew there'd be a blacklash — but she never expected to be brutally attacked by another woman. Jo Knowsley reports.
Charmyne Palavi was standing quietly at the bar with her fiancé Michael Browne when she felt the first chunk of ice smack against her bare neck.
It was followed by another, and yet another, before she identified the young woman who was hurling the missiles. She was 20-something, in a tight dress, and surrounded by NRL Bronco football fans. And she was horribly drunk.
The young woman called Charmyne abusive names, screaming, "Haven't you slept with enough footballers?"
Charmyne, 38, who has dated a number of high-profile footballers — but stuck her head firmly above the parapet when she exposed Australia's sexist football culture on television's Four Corners in May this year — tensed.
"You don't know me," she replied, easing quietly back towards the friends she had met earlier, at about 6.30pm, on what she had thought would be a quiet Sunday night at Brisbane's Normanby Hotel for dinner and a drink. "And I don't know you. Leave me alone."
But around 9pm, when Charmyne's group returned to the bar area, the abuse began again. And this time it became even more violent, culminating in a savage attack by the woman, who kung-fu kicked Charmyne twice in the stomach, causing her to fall to the ground and badly dislocate her left wrist.
"I couldn't believe it was happening to me," says Charmyne, who spent the following hours at Royal Brisbane And Women's Hospital, where doctors worked to realign her wrist. She will now be disabled, her wrist in a cast, for the next seven weeks.
"I had done nothing to provoke this," she says. "This woman kicked me like a dog. I was determined to walk out of that bar with my head high, but I felt so humiliated.