BRITTANY Merrick left home for a girls’ night out and has returned the reluctant, new and battered face of the fight against violence towards women.
The 22-year-old has become a social media phenomenon after bravely posting a photograph of her bruised and swollen face, the result of an unprovoked Boxing Day attack allegedly at the hands of a man she had only met a few times socially.
A court has heard how Ms Merrick was knocked unconscious after receiving at least three punches to the face from Tanilba Bay man Shaun Rudder, who had already knocked down Ms Merrick’s flatmate, Brittany Norris, with a blow similar to a coward’s punch.
It followed an altercation at a nightclub where Mr Rudder allegedly spat in Ms Merrick’s face before she pushed him over and both parties were ejected.
Despite the allegations, Mr Rudder was granted bail in Newcastle Local Court on Monday.
The court heard the 26-year-old had sent a text message to Ms Norris after the girls were walking down King Street, before following it up with ‘’behind you’’.
As Ms Norris turned, she was allegedly punched to the side of the head and fell to the ground.
Ms Merrick was allegedly bashed unconscious when she went to help her flatmate.
She spent the night in John Hunter Hospital and will need to return for tests to see whether her jaw had been fractured.
Ms Merrick, who is recovering at home with boyfriend Clinton Blenman by her side, said she could not remember the alleged attack.
“I actually came to hearing my flatmate scream, it was such a horrible, horrible scream,’’ Ms Merrick said on Monday.
“I could feel something wet on my skin but I couldn’t open my eyes, it didn’t take me long to work out it was blood.’’
But the pain of the attack was being tempered somewhat by the mass of support she had received since she posted a photograph of her battered face on Facebook.
Within hours, it had been shared more than 2500 times as messages of support came from as far away as Germany.
“It’s all a bit shocking. I didn’t think it would be shared that many times let alone the things people are saying,’’ Ms Merrick said.
“I have even had over 100 friend requests, it’s quite overwhelming.’’
Court documents allege Mr Rudder, charged with two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, warned Ms Norris after the attack “not to do anything as his mates are bikies and he knows where both girls live”.
Within 10 minutes, Ms Norris received another text message from Mr Rudder: “Hey where are yous I'm at home. Never went out. What's yous Doin?”