You hear yelling coming from the apartment upstairs again.
It sounds like someone just hit a wall.
What do you do?
We all know how to react if we witness a crime and take action if we witness a car accident or robbery. We call 911 and make sure everyone’s ok. Studies show most people are less likely to take action during crimes of intimate partner abuse that other crimes. Maybe they think it’s none of their business. Maybe concerns about safety keep them from getting it’s or be concerned about your own safety.
Instincts to avoid danger are on mark. Although it’s never safe to intervene when someone is physically abusing another person, you can still take actions to help. Advocates recommend a two-part strategy: delegate and distract.
Always call 911 to delegate the responsibility of physical intervention to trained law enforcement.
Then make a distraction to pause the abuse until law enforcement can arrive. If the abuse is verbal and you’re friends with the couple, you might feel comfortable approaching the situation and posing a question to distract. If the abuse has escalated to physical violence, distractions like setting off car, fire, or house alarms can be effective.
Right and wrong reactions are illustrated in the video below. The situation depicted makes you think. How you would respond if you witness or overhear intimate partner abuse? Share your ideas for safe interventions in the comments.
This post is part of our 17 Days/17 Ways campaign to take a stand against intimate partner abuse.