What would you do if you witnessed someone physically abusing his girlfriend?

…and what should you do, legally or ethically?

Fortunately not apropos of a real situation I stumbled across, but rather a fascinating series of videos I found on YouTube (linked from another forum on the same topic - where a surprising amount maintained that it was none of their business and intervening will give you more trouble than its worth), where an American network hires actors to portray abusive situations in public.

The results are quite something. Some intervene, some call the police, some just watch or walk on by as if it’s none of their business.

Personally, I sincerely hope that I’d intervene based on the ethic of reciprocity, although this is obviously incredibly risky - the abuser may have a weapon or anything (although I agree with Judge Mathis that most woman beaters are cowards). At the very least I hope I’d call the police, since the situation may well need dealing with long-term, so the authorities are best placed to deal with it.

Of course, it’s very easy to play Charly big-bollocks online. Talk is cheap, as they say. Would it depend on whether you’re alone when you witness the abuse? How big the abuser is? Be easy to stand up to some skinny weed. So, would you intervene verbally? Go up and slap him about? Jog on?

It would depend a lot on the situation, whether or not I was alone, if I knew the people …

If I felt that it was a serious situation, I’d call the police. I would probably not try to intervene for fear of my own personal safety, unless the person being abused was one of my children (or grandchildren for that matter).

Once I witness a couple fighting in a car he nearly ran over her head with his car when she jumped out and he was still rolling then proceeded to chase her down opn foot, I didn’t even think twice about it and got in between her and him, I told him to punch me instead. I was waiting for him to lay a hand on me he never did. I escorted her inside a nearby restaurant, told the owners what was going on they locked him out. Gave her my name and phone number if she needed a witness. The cops arrested him later.

Always be careful when intervening in situations like this and keep an eye on the women. Abusive relationships can lead to strange behaviour such as her attacking me in order to prevent a beating later.

Physically? I’d intervene. I’m not a big man, but I’m well trained, (ex USAF and privately) and I have no qualms about breaking up a physical altercation when one person is clearly getting a beat down. I was a small kid a bullied badly throughout childhood, I have extremely little tolerance for it now as an adult.

Legally, I suppose I Should call the police and wait nearby but out of harms way to provide information. Ethically, I couldn’t square that with some one being beaten in front of me.

A Chicago musician intervened when he saw a man abusing his wife. He was injured so badly that he had to undergo surgery where doctors had to (temporarily) remove a third of his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain. 6 months later he was still recovering, plus trying to figure out how to pay over $300K in medical bills since he had no insurance.

Me, I’m a woman without a ton of physical training - and what I had was long ago. I’d probably call 911 and then yell that I’d done it. And get ready to run.

I would call 911 and then wait for the cops somewhere inconspicuous (but keeping an eye on them so I could tell the cops where they went if they tried to leave the scene). Some places are better than others about the domestic violence laws, but hopefully the cops would at least help with things like getting a restraining order if the woman was willing to get one, or (if nothing else) at least just having a paper trail documenting the abuse if necessary in the future (sadly, that may include just knowing who to look for if the woman ends up being killed by the abuser).

Once the police had taken the abuser into custody then I would offer to give the victim a ride to a shelter or some cash if needed, but I would not try to get involved during the fight. For one thing I am female and not particularly strong so I can’t physically fight most men.
Also, you can’t force a person who is being abused to want to get out of the relationship, so there is only so much that an outsider can do for a victim who isn’t asking for help. If they are fighting with each other every day, my intervening in this fight is not going to really help much if they go home and have another fight.
There is also the chance that you will be seen as “the bad guy” if you try to get between them and both of them will end up turning against you.

It doesn’t matter. When you choose to intervene you accept the risk. As far as I’m concerned, I might be saving a life, and that is worth risking my own safety. I don’t look down on those who choose not to, I’m simply unable to stand by. DV situations suck. They are messy, tricky things that sometimes it may seem that you have intervened for naught. What matters though, is that *somebody did the right thing.*If more of us did that, the world would be a better place for our kids. If more of us called people on their bullshit their would be a lot less of it.

I have physically intervened (In a parking lot at night, he was hitting her, she was trying to get into her car.) And I have called the cops (Fence between me and them, and I had a cell phone on me that time.)

I am not in physical condition to accomplish much these days, (slipped disc, very delicate spine.)but would definitely call the police and yell for help.

There is no way I could see that going on and not do whatever I could. What amazes me is the number of people who will intervene if an adult is hit, but walk right by a child receiving the same treatment.

I have and would call 911 without hesitation, and in fact did so earlier this week when I witnessed a woman being assaulted in a vehicle. (I was treated like a lunatic for calling, even though I had a full description of the couple, and their car, and their license plate, and was driving right behind them, watching the man punching the woman at the red light.)

Physically intervening, however, is a no go. I’m no longer physically able to hold my own against an abuser who’s going to be even angrier because he’s been interrupted. I’d also not say anything, because if I say “hey, I called the cops,” that might encourage him to amp up the beating, or try to take the victim off somewhere that I couldn’t follow/out of sight so that he couldn’t be caught.

I’d call the police. Trying to intervene physically/get into a confrontation (verbal has a way of becoming physical, you know?) would be foolish because I’m a woman and a smaller than average one at that. OTOH If the abuse victim was a child I’d probably be compelled to do more because they’re more helpless than the adult woman in the OP, and their risk of being killed by the jerk is larger, which makes me expect them to do less in their own defense than the woman.

edit: like tumbledown, I’d definitely not say I called the police. The odds of that leading to her being hurt more are too big compared to the slight one that he might stop hitting her.

Call the police (I’ve heard people getting beaten more than once, and called the police every time). I don’t use my cellphone for much, but I’d use it for that.

Call the police for sure. There was a time when i may have intervened physically but now i’m:

a) out of shape

and, more importantly

b) somebody’s mom.

if i choose to be Charles Bronson on somebody’s ass if it’s just me no biggie, but putting myself in harm’s way and potentially leaving Junior with no mom is just not an option. i eat a lot more vegetables too

I wouldn’t personally intervene unless it looked like a rape or murder situation, or if I had an opportunity to put a locked door between them or the like, since I’m physically quite weak. But I would call 911. Some things are none of my business, but violence isn’t one of them.

Depends on the severity of the situation and how I assessed the risks. I have a daughter, after all. But most of the time, calling 911 is the right first move.

If her life was in danger, as I judged it, I would attempt to stop the guy (maybe, if I thought I could). If he was slapping her around like one of those Jersey Shore guys might be apt to do, I wouldn’t do anything. Maybe there are two sides of the story (doubtful), but it would be serious legal exposure to physically intervene. I wouldn’t intervene physically unless I thought I could subdue the guy, which probably means at least trying to kill him, or at least maim him severely. Otherwise I might get hurt, and for all I know the woman’s a crazy-ass meth-fiend who beats her grandmother.

Would I really want to put a brick through the skull and teeth of some scumbag trying to kill a woman (yes, they are so weak, I know)? Yes, I would, but only if I judged the act to warrant immediate intervention. Hard to think coolly in the heat of the moment. Besides, maybe he didn’t get his money that day and she was out going shopping instead.

I’ve called the police a few times, most recently on my former neighbours. The situation there was pretty crazy. On the one hand the woman who rented the house claimed that she was being stalked by a violent ex, and on the other the night it all came to a head she blocked his car in to stop him leaving. No way was I getting in the middle of that.

In less acute situations ie where there was more tears and yelling going on than actual violence it has seemed adequate just to let them know that there are witnesses to get things to calm down. One time when I was on my own I came across a woman who was crying and carrying on whilst a man had hold of her hand (not roughly) and was trying to get her to go somewhere with him.
My split second decision was to say to her “Are you OK?” rather than demanding that he let her go. She actually seemed rather sheepish as she said yeah she was alright really.

So police if I’m scared (or even just wary) of one or both participants otherwise what I hope will be a non confrontational intervention.

I have to say that I won’t know until it happens. I’ve jumped in between a friend and her brother trying to beat her, and I’ve chased a drunken asshole around the bar and out the door when he started shoving a woman around and wouldn’t stop. But in both situations it was pure adrenaline and rage acting for me; I really doubt that lamp or pool-cue would have been my weapons of choice had I had a chance to think about things. I’m female, not large, no martial arts or defense training. Should I ahve time to think about things, the phone and 911 would be my first step.

I have physically intervened, in the remote past. (Once.)

You can never tell what you’e going to do, but I doubt that I would go that far today, because:[ol]Hey, look! I have a phone, right here![]I have dependents now, and I’m not immortal, like I was when I was twenty-five.[]Immortality aside, I’m not in the same shape I was in when I was twenty-five.[/ol]So yeah, today I would probably just call 911 straight away and let them know what was going on. I think it would still be very hard to stand there and watch someone smacking a woman around, and I would probably still feel compelled to try to stop it - but now I would probably be more inclined to try to do it with a bit of shouting from a nice safe distance.

My friends wound up in this situation last year. They were getting off the Beltway and suddenly the car in front of them stopped on the exit ramp and the driver started beating the shit out of his passenger. They got a plate number and a description and called 911. The dispatcher at least pretended to take them seriously and said they would track the car down. Whether they did, we never found out.

I’d call 911. I’m a small, uncoordinated, weak female, so I have no hope in any kind of physical altercation and would never intervene.

I had an amusing experience in high school: I needed to go by the gym to get something during lunch, and accidentally wandered into the middle of several guys beating each other up. They saw me standing there nervously, paused the fight to let me walk through unmolested, then started hitting each other again once I was clear. It was very odd.

I hope I’d have my cell phone on me (I usually do, but far from always), and hope I’d have the presence of mind to call 911.

I’m getting too old and slow to intervene unless I thought he was liable to kill or maim her before the cops got there.