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Why do we still avoid confrontations?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Yesterday I went in a busy local store and as I'm walking in this guy walks in at the same time, in huff and begins to yell someone's name. The store is huge with extremely high ceilings, so everytime he yelled this persons name, it echoed. It wasn't a friendly yell either...more of a angry yell.

Anyway, I happen to be walking in the same direction that he headed and saw that he finally found the person he was looking for, which I took to be his wife and saw his daughter in the cart. Using the same level and tone of voice that he used yelling for them, he begins chewing her out for not waiting for him by the front door like he told her too. It was obviously verbal abuse.

There's 10 other people there within a 20 foot radius witnessing all of this. Why didn't any of us run to a store employee and complain about this guy. Why didn't any of the hefty men in the general area (that could take down this guy in one punch) step in and shut this man up? I think the guy eventually left, but for a generation that is so outspoken, why do we still not speak up?
For women, why do we still not help our sisters? Don't get me wrong, I was thinking about chewing out this man, addressing him in the every sense of white trash that he is and then some, but I had that little voice in the back of my head that said "Someone else will take care of it. Someone else will take care of it".

Your thoughts??
post #2 of 19
You know, I was going to post something like this. I was asleep last night, and was woken up by a woman screaming, not like for help, but rather at someone. I thought it was just run-of-the-mill couple squabble at first. I looked out the window to make sure they were okay, and because, well, they were five feet from my window and woke me up and I was being nosy. She was hitting him, hard, trying to get him out of her car so she could leave him in the middle of a bad neighborhood at night. He got out and called the police and she ran him over with her car, the man digging through the trash as a witness.

I went out after a while and asked the guy if he was okay. He said, yes, thanks for asking, and that the cops should be coming soon.

So I keep asking myself, why didn't I call the police? I would have, if he hadn't, but I was reluctant. I didn't want to get involved for fear that she would come back and throw a molotov through the window. The girl was clearly nutty. I mean, yes, I asked if he was okay... from the third floor, yelling down the staircase. The guy who had been digging through the trash right behind them pretty immediately moved on to the next dumpster. I mean, she hit him with her car... and nobody was doing anything.

That "someone else will take care of it" feeling is a real psychological issue(diffusion of responsibility). People always think that this will happen in a crowd. If you are mugged in front of one other man, he is more likely to come to your aid than if you are mugged in front of fifty, and they all think "someone else will take care of it".

A woman in New York actually died from this. http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_k...enovese/1.html
Everyone witnessed her be attacked, looked out their window, and thought someone else would call the cops. The man came back a few minutes later and finished killing her, because nobody did call the police.
post #3 of 19
These are EXACTLY the reasons why I went to my boss about my coworker throwing a fit of rage in my office on Thursday that was directed right at me because I mentioned he hadn't chosen a specific printer setting.

All too often, we allow things like this to be brushed aside, and the abusers continue to intimdate and abuse. It isn't right, and you know something? As a young woman, I would have been SO happy if someone, ANYONE had called the police when my daughter's father was beating me in public, out on the street for all to see, while I screamed for help.

But no one ever did.

I'll be darned if I won't call the cops when I see something like that taking place. If we don't care for each other, even as strangers, the abusers win, every time.
post #4 of 19
Wow, great question; I have no answer. I have called the police many times for instances of animal neglect or abuse, but have never gotten involved in a "people problem". Maybe it's fear of retaliation. I don't know that I've actually encountered a situation in which I needed to call the authorities. I hope I would intervene if the need arose, but I'm afraid I'd probably wimp out.
post #5 of 19
Its hard to step in to a situation where you don't really know what's going on, you just know its something wrong. Sometimes I think that people gawking tends to dissipate the situation . My husband steps in if the abusive behavior is directed towards a child. If he sees anyone, man or woman, dragging a kid out of a store or yelling at them, he will walk over to them and say something. Of course, he's a big guy, so I think that makes a difference.
post #6 of 19
Ok, just my own personal view: I have called cops, I have called social workers, I have called animal welfare. It's not the most heroic of contibutions, but I think the difference is that I'm CERTAIN no one else will do it. After all, I don't know anyone else who would. (Not strictly true - I do know one other person who would - but he lives on the other side of the country to me).

I've been in situations where I could really have done with people who knew what was going on getting involved or getting police involved, so even though it's scary (and it often is - I was pretty certain my last 'intervention' was going to lead to violence on me or at my house (full of cats)) I think I should do something.

But people have different ideas of obligation and duty, I not everyone feels that they can/should get involved.

On a lighter note, my superhero nickname is 'Mobile phone girl' (my amazing super hero power is the ability to call the cops).

That's a step most of us can take - in most (not all) situations, we can call the cops risk-free. If we all just start there, that's something.
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnasMom View Post
Its hard to step in to a situation where you don't really know what's going on, you just know its something wrong. Sometimes I think that people gawking tends to dissipate the situation . My husband steps in if the abusive behavior is directed towards a child. If he sees anyone, man or woman, dragging a kid out of a store or yelling at them, he will walk over to them and say something. Of course, he's a big guy, so I think that makes a difference.
You're right, size does make a difference.

With regard to stepping in where you don't know what's going on, but you're certain something is wrong - I have done that. I struggled with it at first, and just went with the 'call the cops' instinct. I just told them the facts of what I saw/heard and let them determine their course of action.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
I know if I knew the girl, or person involved, I DEFINITELY would be involved. I.e., one job I had a girl I would eat lunch with regularly was getting sexually harassed by a manager (female manager at that). It was because she was close to the 2 top managers. I really really encouraged her to tell her manager first, but she was too embarrassed to do so.
Finally on day I had a beef with the female manager and had to talk to my boss anyways. I sat down and told him a flood of things that this manager was saying about others and to others.

I guess another part too is that I forget that not everyone knows how to stand up for themselves.

I Know if B was with me, I'm sure that he would've stepped in in some way. Even just to get the store managers involved. I know he doesn't stand for any type of abuse. Maybe I just got use to him taking care of things.
post #9 of 19
Actually, we studied this in psychology. In a study (I can't remember where it was done, so I'm sorry that I can't cite my resources here -- I believe these studies were conducted after the Kitty Genovese case in New York, as someone else already mentioned, but I can't be sure) it was found that people really are more likely to get involved in a situation if they're the only ones to witness it. They put a test subject in a room (like a doctor's office waiting room) and had one of the researchers behave as though in distress, like that they'd injured themselves or were having some other problem. If there was only one other person in the room (the test subject), that person would almost always assist the researcher. The more people who were added to the room (all of them test subjects and unaware of the study being conducted), the more likely it was that none of them would help. Everyone thinks "Someone else will help this person, someone else is more qualified to take control of the situation, someone else will be bigger/smarter/stronger etc." These people aren't lazy or callous or unmindful of what they're witnessing, it's just that they all believe someone else will assume responsibility. I've been in these situations myself, and I find it's true: if I'm the only one (or one of a few) around, I'll spring into action and become "Save the Day Girl," but if there's a large group with me I stand off to one side and wait for someone else to solve the problem.

So while most of us think "if I were in that situation, I would've helped that person," chances are good that we really wouldn't have. Not because we're bad people, but because we assume someone else will take over for us and relieve us of the responsibility to protect others.

(In the instance of the Kitty Genovese case, however, it is important to consider that self-preservation instincts will kick in. People saw a woman being murdered in front of them, and nobody went to help her. Why? Because that could so easily have been them instead of her. It doesn't occur to them that they -- a crowd of witnesses -- outnumber her attacker(s) and could overpower them. Each is stuck thinking only of themselves and their own safety, and is hung up on the mentality that if they interfere, they could be the next victim.)

Psychology is neat.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hmm...that's very interesting study. I wonder though is this just a culture thing, personal experiences or is it human nature? Did this study determine that? Just curious is all.

I still wish I would've shoved the cart into that guy...it was a huge cart, but I don't think it would've done much since it was empty.
post #11 of 19
I think its hard to call the cops for the first time. After you call once then its not so scary to do it again and the response time is cut down. I remember reading in psychology about the response time in emergency situations and what your brain is trying to do to determine if its enough of an emergency to call for help or even to intervene yourself.

I had to call the cops once over domestic violence occuring in the apartment above me (my apartment was literally shaking). One of the scariest moments in my life when I thought a girl was going to be murdered. At what point does your brain respond and not even think about it and pick up the phone and dial and at what point do you sit and think if its an emergency? Every situation is different.

Edit: I guess I'm not the only one that studied this in Psych!
post #12 of 19
I always call the cops in situatons that warrant it. I always have always will. because i know i would want somenoe to do the same for me.
post #13 of 19
For me, it really depends on who is with me. For instance, I will readily speak up if I am alone, but my kids cringe when I do, and my husband really doesnt like me to butt in. My most common "speak up in the crowd" is when a customer rages at the clerk.
My saddest experiences have been at nightime car accidents - in the worst one, a woman was ejected and killed outright, but her 12yo daughter was in the middle of the highway, with the leg bones protruding & spurting blood. In her agony, she was thrashing & tossing me off; I was trying to keep her still, as the wounds got worse with her thrashing. I was surrounded by a large crown of onlookers, and no one responded to my pleas for help, except, finally, for a very large Viking-type man named "Andruss" who couldn't speak English, but saw what needed to be done. He was so kind and gentle yet strong - whenever I think of him, I pray that he be blessed for his willingness to get involved.
post #14 of 19
I used to not say or do anything, but now I know better. I tend to call 911. I witnessed a car accident which I still feel was insurance fraud, as this lady was driving so erratically and nearly hit me twice, and kept driving like a nut the whole way. I didn't call 911 and she hit someone. No one was hurt, but the elderly gentleman didn't want me to call the police- the lady talked him out of it. I didn't call 911 when I first saw her driving horribly and I didn't call when she actually hit someone. I still feel guilty about it. Recently I heard my neighbors screaming and fighting upstairs, I couldn't tell if it was play fighting, but I've heard them actually fighting in the parking lot and not said anything. I finally called 911, and that put an end to it. My mom has never had any doubts or hessitations about calling 911 when witnessing or hearing abuse, or seeing an accident. She just does. She got a neighbor in trouble for beating her kid and has help save many lives in car accidents by being the only one to provide care and call 911, granted she was an EMT for a number of years.

When in doubt call 911. If you aren't a huge man with a gun you probably shouldn't say anything- but do call 911. If I see someone behaving like that now and I'm at work I call them out on it, but I doubt I'd do it when not at work. I don't have security with me everywhere I go! But I always have my cell phone.
post #15 of 19
well in the first case, yes the guy was acting like a** and it is up to the store people to put a stop to it. however all its going to do is make it worse for her if you step in, as someone just off the street, or cause him to go off on you. If he was hitting her, then call the cops,

i will tell you from personal experince it never pays to help out in these things.
it never pays to be nice when it is people.

first time, me and friend came out of a bar. as we walked past a alley we could hear a women screming for help, so we run in find her on the ground with 2 guys beating her.and half her colthes ripped off. Well we ran them off, then came back to check on her, only to have her tell the police we where the ones trying to rape her. SOOO guess who went to jail? it took 3 days before they found out that one of the 2 guys that where beating her was her husband. But guess whose name was in the front page of the next days newspaper. Sure the paper later printed that we where let go, in section c4( that was the page it showed up in)

second time, we where sitting in a bar, when this guy hits this girl sitting next to him at that bar, he hit her so hard,that she ended up landing on my table well of course a fight started once again, i was the one that went to jail turns out, it was her brother that hit her, only cause of half the bar, said what happen did they let me go. Both the sister and brother where saying i hit her first.

i could tell you a couple of more stories of trying to help, where people then turned on us anyway you get the point, i dont mind confrontations, in fact i happen to like them.
But when it comes to helping people if i know you , i will help in a heart beat. if i dont know you, sorry about your luck, i guess you should leave the A** that is yelling at you.If it looks like you need help i will call the cops, but thats all now.

) sometimes it does not help you much when you are the big mean scary looking type,
lol when i wear suit, people say i look like i work for the mob, so i lose both ways hhaah
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by theimp98 View Post
But when it comes to helping people if i know you , i will help in a heart beat. if i dont know you, sorry about your luck, i guess you should leave the A** that is yelling at you.If it looks like you need help i will call the cops, but thats all now.
I'm sorry that you were falsely accused and I am sure that was very difficult. However, wouldn't have you had felt much MUCH worse if you hadn't stepped in and that woman had been raped and/or killed?
Especially in cases of domestic abuse, it is very important for that stranger on the street to help as best as they can. Often, people (both male and female survivors) in abusive relationships are MUCH too afraid to report their abusive partners but are often (though not always) very relieved when a third party steps in and takes that pressure to report the abuse off of them.
Yes, there is always a slight risk of retaliation when we step in to help others. But isn't that small risk worth it when the risk to the victims is much more eminent and severe?
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by ugaimes View Post
I'm sorry that you were falsely accused and I am sure that was very difficult. However, wouldn't have you had felt much MUCH worse if you hadn't stepped in and that woman had been raped and/or killed?
Especially in cases of domestic abuse, it is very important for that stranger on the street to help as best as they can. Often, people (both male and female survivors) in abusive relationships are MUCH too afraid to report their abusive partners but are often (though not always) very relieved when a third party steps in and takes that pressure to report the abuse off of them.
Yes, there is always a slight risk of retaliation when we step in to help others. But isn't that small risk worth it when the risk to the victims is much more eminent and severe?
I agree!
BUT...be careful. I once attempted to intervene in a situation on the street where a guy was being extremely verbally abusive to his girlfriend/wife...He then took off his shoe and threw it at her head as she was walking away from him.
He then took off after her and I ran after them...

As soon as I made him aware of me and that I was calling the police, they BOTH came after me....Often, in an abusive relationship, while either party is being abused, they will still defend one another and will "kill the messenger" so to speak...

I think the best thing is to scout out your location and call the police immediately.
post #18 of 19
We all need to have a general outline of a plan for cases like these, public displays of abuse. You know how you never think of the right thing to say until five minutes afterwards?

Well, personally I would act like a fumbling idiot, and "accidentally" run my cart into the man and then start apologizing all over the place until I had completely distracted him. I think that would be the best approach until the police arrive.

Because yes, they do defend one another and always will until they are ready to leave. That doesn't mean we have to allow children to see this happen without anyone doing anything about it, right?
post #19 of 19
Good idea about the shopping cart "accident." At least it would be a distraction, and nobody could say you did anything wrong.
I know it can be scary to get involved in some things, but my SO and I would probably just be getting out of prison if it had not been for several people, some of which we have still never met, getting involved and speaking out after an incident we had with a drunk off duty cop. I feel I must get involved sometimes because I was saved from a life of misery by people that did it for me. I strongly believe if I had not gotten involved several times before my incident, I would have had no help, and what goes around comes around.
I will always get involved if it is a kid or an animal. I actually got into a fist fight with a woman I knew when I saw her punch her 5-6 year old son in the grocery store. He already had a black eye, and she hit him with a closed fist for touching something. I snapped on her like I have never snapped on anyone inmy life. Her husband was a lawyer trying to get custody of the kids, so fortunately things turned out ok.
Getting involved is probably one of tha scariest things you can do, but it needs to be done, even if it is only a phone call, it can change someone's life.
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