Violence against Women

February 6, 2012

During a weekend of speaking and conferencing in London, Dean (CVM Managing Director) and I were heading back on the Northern Line to our hotel, when Dean spotted a woman being forced aggressively against a wall by a man. Our train was in the station with the doors open.  It looked like it was going to get nasty and as Dean got out of his seat I saw the woman try to slap the man in the face to get him away.  He was so close to her and so forceful that she couldn’t get get her hands free properly.  She looked terrified. Not good.

Ironic in the extreme was the fact that we had just finished a men’s day where we had been highlighting the excellent work being done by Restored (a global coalition to provide a Christian response to violence against women).  Peter Grant, one of the co-directors had encouraged the men present to take a stand where necessary against violent men and not stand idly by.

Seconds later we were confronting him.  Shielding the woman we firmly asked him to move away.  At the same time, a platform announcement was made to the man, asking him to “stop harassing the lady.”  However, this guy wasn’t up for stopping.  Turning to me and getting right into my face he told me “@$£% Off” and asked me what I intended to do about it.  Aggressive and threatening is an understatement.

I think you have a choice in these moments;  It was central London and it was late.  You have no idea whats going to happen next. It all happens quickly. You have questions to process instantly. Did he have a knife?  Was he going to go on the offensive?  Its essentially a two choice scenario. You either stand your ground or you step back.  We moved forward and told him firmly, several times whilst locking his gaze to “step back”.

Eventually he did and after a few minutes of standing guard, assistance came and he was led away.

At one point I had turned to the other men on the train and asked if a few others would join us.  I had the thought that if a handful of guys were gathered around, it would pressure him to back down.  No one moved.  No surprise there.

When I developed “The Code” one of the statements (Code X) ended up being, “I will use my strength to protect the weak and stand against the abuse of power.”  In that moment she was in a very weak position and he was the abuser of power.  You can’t sit back.

The lady actually told us, with tears running down her cheeks that she would be ok.  There was a look on her face that somehow told me she had been there before with this guy. I didn’t move untill assistance arrived.

I’m grateful that the train driver refused to move the train until he knew she was ok.  I’m grateful for the announcer.  I’m grateful it didn’t get violent when we stepped in.  It was strengthening to be with Dean, another man of conviction, both of us standing shoulder to shoulder.  It was disappointing to see all those men refusing to move or burying their heads in their newspapers or books, pretending that nothing was happening.

Please check out Restored and The Code.  Also see the movement called First Man Standing we are helping to promote.

I pray the lady was ok.  I hope she leaves that man.  I hope he had a wake up call.  I pray that one day there will be a big enough groundswell so that these incidents become fewer.  I hope that more men will be prepared to confront rather than shrink away.

When I read Luke 4:18 I dont see a passive call to justice.  I see a call to stand in the gap when we need to and take a hit if necessary, even putting yourself in harms way if thats what’s required.  That seems to me, to be a redeemed use of my strength.




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  1. roger leitch says:

    This would make a good article for Sorted.

  2. Billy Earl says:

    As the Code gathers momentum more men will stand side by side in these situations all for the glory of God

  3. Brian beech says:

    Well done.

  4. Thank you! Thank you Carl and Dean for being men of courage and standing with women to end this most horrific reality! Even when we hear the reality is one in four women, we can imagine it is an exageration, but to see the horrific reality right before our eyes is heartbreaking. It’s so shocking to know the rest men on the train stood by, what if it had been their daughter? Oh it is so sad! Thank you for being there for that woman! I shall be praying for her also!

  5. Alice says:

    Thank you for not being one of the hundreds of bystanders, and for having the courage to face this bully down.

    I will never forget what it is like to scream for help and for nobody to come until it is too late. Fortunately, I was fine apart from a few bumps and bruises – someone I knew got drunk and decided to drive his car straight at me – and nobody was nearby. I cannot imagine how much worse than to be in a violent situation with hundreds of people watching and nobody doing anything.

  6. Claire Ashurst says:

    Thank you so much for posting this, it encourages me that there are men in the world who will stand up for you! As I woman I have accepted the idea that if you scream for help, the likelihood is that no one will answer. You get told that is it more sensible to shout ‘Fire!’ than ‘Rape!’, because people are more likely to respond. Sometimes it is necessary to walk alone in the dark; as far as I know we are not allowed to carry pepper spray, so I asked a policeman friend and he advised a little bottle of perfume would be as effective. Perhaps I’m just more paranoid than the average woman! But it would be very nice not to even have to consider these things.

  7. Tim Dooley says:

    What can I say I’ve been totally inspired by The Code just read it now the hard part trying to live life ‘as a new kind of man’. The fact you both lead from the front and practice what you preach is the inspiration that all us christian men should abide by. With leaders so inspired and filled with the will of Jesus Christ is what this country needs.I too will pray for this woman I hope Jesus gives her the strength to move away from a man like that and she can see that not all men are like this.

  8. Peter Grant says:

    Carl and Dean, We are inspired to see you both putting the Code into practice and being “First Men Standing”. Thank you for your courage and encouragement. We have written a blog with a link to this post at The Restored team.

  9. Dave Sax says:

    Well done. You did the right thing . It is NOT an easy choice to make. You made the right choice. Bless you both.

  10. Rachel Crowe says:

    Wow, this is amazing. Well done for getting involved. It’s so encouraging that there are men willing to intervene and to protect someone when so many others wouldn’t. It must have taken a lot of courage. Lots of respect for you.

  11. […] got home, my heart still heavy, and began to read with hope again rising the story of how Carl Beech and Dean Gray had challenged an abusive man on the underground; I was reminded that there are men and women […]

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