Intervening in a violent domestic incident on the edge of a busy highway on a Sunday night is "just what you do" when someone's in trouble, two young women say.
Now Waikato police are investigating the best way to formally recognise the actions of best mates Melissa Bromley, 22, and Hailey Maddren, 18.
They were driving home from church about 10.30pm when they noticed what appeared to be two men fighting on the roadside in Ngaruawahia. And they were nearly run over by a truck as the struggle continued outside the nearby Delta Tavern.
"We just pulled over and realised it was a guy and his partner," Maddren said.
When a punch was thrown they knew it was serious.
"We yelled at him saying, 'what are you doing!' then walked over. He kind of stopped as we said it."
Maddren said they stepped between the man and woman and started moving back with the woman behind them.
They described the man as short and of medium build. He may have been aggressive toward his partner but "he didn't have a lot to say for himself", Bromley said.
The situation settled down and the woman walked away. The man followed.
Maddren called police and the friends knew the violence was not over.
They followed and found the pair in Durham St.
The man, illuminated by a street-light, was standing above the woman who was crumpled on the ground.
They said he was holding her hair and kicking her in the head.
"I just yelled at him," Bromley said.
"I didn't know what else to do. I got in between them and Hailey talked to police trying to get them there as fast as possible and get her medical attention."
At times the situation was threatening, Maddren said.
As a result of the intervention, the man was arrested and taken to Hamilton police station where he was charged with male assaults female.
Senior Sergeant Rupert Friend and the responding officers had no doubt that the women's actions prevented the victim suffering serious injury.
"In accordance with this we are looking at the most suitable way we can recognise their bravery in ensuring such a violent offender was stopped."
Yet the women don't see themselves as heroic.
Bromley said their only thought was ensuring the victim was all right. "What else do you do? I was surprised how many people just drove past and didn't do anything," she said.
"I thought most people would [stop]. When someone's in need it's just what you do. I don't know if it's a fear thing or what. It's ridiculous - you see someone in trouble and help."
On average 14 women, six men and 10 children are killed each year by a family member.
Friend said police got called to about 200 domestic violence incidents each day.
"It's only through members of the public stepping up to the mark, like these two women did, that the message domestic violence is not OK will get through."
- Waikato Times