What would you do? 

Today as I was returning from the supermarket, in the early evening, I walked past a pub on the other side of the road. Outside that pub, a woman was standing talking to a guy in a car and as I got closer, she raised her voice, repeating the same phrase over and over again: “Where have you been?” – until she was shouting it.

The guy got out of the car. It happened quickly. He started shouting back at her, and then he grabbed her. By the hair. He was dragging her around by her hair, and she was struggling to get away from him, and he was pushing and shoving her. I couldn’t exactly tell if he hit her or not because it happened so quickly, and I was in shock that he could have attacked her in broad daylight, but it was violent, pulling her hair and basically attacking her.

I took out my phone, standing behind a bus stop and started taking photos through the glass. It may seem cowardly that I didn’t rush over to stop it, but I’m fairly small and it happened so quickly that I didn’t figure out what to do other than try and take some photos as evidence, and get the registration of his car.

Another few people stopped and looked too, but nobody intervened. I guess that’s London for you. It was a fairly dodgy area and people worry that if they intervene, they might get stabbed or beaten themselves. (At least we don’t have guns, generally speaking.)

I got speaking with a couple who had stopped. The girl was very upset and even shouted across the street for the guy to stop attacking the woman. Me, I was just still in shock and trying to take photos to show what was happening. Eventually after further attacks from the guy, who we think was trying to get her into his car, he got into his car and drove off, and she got into hers and somebody drove her off. Both in the same direction.

During this time I called the police.

I did a whole report to the police including telling them both of the car registrations, and remembering most of the phonetic alphabet except for J (Juliet! I always forget, that and Whiskey.) They said they would investigate it. Turns out that someone else had also reported it as a bunch of police turned up at the nearest station which was up the road from us, and I ended up walking past them and asking them what was going on and it turned out they were there for this attack.

The attacker had already driven off, as had the victim, so they got a few more details from me including the actual location of the attack (outside the pub, not outside the station) and I showed them the photos. You could see the guy attacking her. They said they’d be in touch if they needed anything else. They called me and said they had addresses for where both the cars were registered and they’d be over to check them out. The sad thing is, as I discussed with the couple who stopped, she’s probably his girlfriend and she probably won’t press charges. It was violent enough that at least 3 groups of people reported it, though.

The thing is, I didn’t really know what I should have done.

Shoud I have intervened? I don’t think I would have been a match for the guy, who was fairly tall although of average build. I’m not a very good fighter. She wasn’t seriously injured I don’t think, though obviously the attack was fairly violent. She was able to walk to her own car and they drove off.

I don’t know. I kind of think we’re just not prepared for events like this.

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32 comments

  1. theskyandback

    You absolutely did the right thing. Calling the police was 100% the way to go. You could have gotten seriously hurt if you had intervened, so I’m glad you didn’t. The important thing is that you did something to help!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Nara

      Thanks. I felt like his violence was mainly aimed at her, although they were outside a pub and you kind of can’t tell with drunk people how they’re going to behave. Sad that nobody inside the pub did anything either. It was just so weird. I don’t expect things like that to happen!

      Like

  2. EmilyMaine

    Yeah I’d be cautious about intervening too. There have been cases of people here being killed by one punch when they intervened to save someone else. You took as much evidence as you could and reported it to the police so you did help as much as was safe to do so. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Yes, I’ve heard about instances like that, and about people being stabbed (happens quite a lot in London) so it does make you more cautious about intervening. I felt like at least I could give them both car registrations and so they could go and check them out. It bothered me they didn’t want the photos as surely if they were going to prosecute, they’d want the photos. Oh well. I’m just sad people do stuff like this!

      Like

  3. sewingbutterfly

    You did the right thing. Intervention is great sometimes. But evidence is also incredibly important. If she wanted to press charges or the police wanted to charge him anyway, your photos and testimony would be incredibly important and useful. I would save the photos somewhere just in case.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amy M.

    I think you did the right thing. You don’t know the exact mental state of that guy, or whether he had any sort of weapon on him. At least they found out who they are and are able to go to their houses to check on them. I called the cops on a guy this past fall, because he was walking down the road and kept hitting himself in the head and throwing his hands up and shouting “I can’t take this anymore! I’m a fighter! I’m a winner! I can’t take this anymore!” He was pretty scary, and freaked both my mom and I out. We were so afraid he was going to hurt himself or someone who may have crossed his path. It’s definitely a scary thing to do, call the cops on someone, but sometimes it’s the best thing to do. I hope things turn out okay for the girl.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Wow, that sounds really scary. I think we were shocked – I really felt like I was shocked, as you don’t expect that to happen when you’re just walking back from the supermarket in daylight. Although I have been mugged before, so I know it’s not the nicest area! I hope she’s okay too. The sad thing is, I assume she’s in a relationship with the guy. Not cool. I think it’s a dangerous kind of man who thinks nothing of attacking a woman in broad daylight with witnesses.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Thanks. It felt a bit futile somehow. I know I’ve been angry before when people haven’t intervened (when I’ve been racially verbally attacked) but I can kind of understand why they don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      • valleyally

        Choosing to put yourself in the line of fire isn’t always the best way to resolve the situation. It’s so complicated when you are in that moment. Glad you are safe.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Thanks. I’m okay. I just feel a bit strange as I won’t ever know what happened to her. I hate to think of her going home and he’s there. I think he is a dangerous man if he thinks nothing of attacking someone in broad daylight with witnesses.

      Like

  5. My Perfect Breakdown

    I echo every single comment above. You did exactly what you could safely do. Intervenining and getting yourself hurt isnt going to help anyone. I hope you arent too shook up from the whole thing, yet i wouldnt be surprised if you are. Lots of love.

    Like

    • Nara

      Thanks my dear! It was such a strange thing really. You don’t plan for it. I sort of feel annoyed that I couldn’t do anything other than watch. And it’s weird to think I won’t ever know what happened to her.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Courtney

    You did absolutely the right thing. We all hope that we’ll intervene, but the truth is, it’s not smart in most situations. I’m glad you took photos, that was smart. You did everything you could do while staying safe.

    I had a neighbor in college who beat his girlfriend one night. Badly. We locked our door and called the police. We never found out how they ended up, but the police confirmed she was badly beaten and told us to keep calling. They moved out the following week. The last thing I needed was my safety compromised in addition to this gal’s. The police exist for a reason.

    Like

    • Nara

      Wow, that sounds traumatic – poor you. I feel that people should intervene, but realistically it’s difficult to if you think you would be physically worse off. And you hear so many stories of people trying to help who end up being seriously injured or dead. It was just a very strange situation and like you, I won’t ever find out what happened to her. I hope she’s okay.

      Like

  7. miku

    You acted perfectly. Its not like you was recording it for youtube or something crass like that. You took evidence and reported it to the police. You were right to stay back. You don’t know what he was capable of. I’m from London too so I know what it’s like. A cousin of mine stopped a fight and sadly got killed in the process, and he was a huge young man, so always be safe. Well done. I really hope this sorts him out.

    Like

  8. andthewindscreamsmary

    I think calling the cops was the best thing to do from your situation. I’m a fairly small woman too, and would have been no match for a man who was clearly enraged about something so I would have done the same thing you did.

    Like

    • Nara

      Thanks… I really didn’t know what to do. It seemed that a few people stopped and noticed it but they didn’t do anything other than call it in. I think nowadays we are very scared to intervene. The woman in the couple who stopped and were talking to me yelled across the street to him to stop. But he was mainly concentrating on attacking the woman rather than anything else.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. MrsD

    Calling the police was definitely the right thing, as was making sure to give them pictures of the attack. I wouldn’t necessarily intervene directly either, for a couple of reasons- I live in the US, which is full of gun-toting lunatics, so my own safety would be an issue, and secondly because intervening could make things worse for the victim later on. Meaning, the guy could blame her for causing a scene, making him look bad, etc. This could lead to further violence towards her later. It’s best to let the police handle it because they have the power to arrest him and at least temporarily get him away from her and also to offer her resources for support.

    Like

    • Nara

      Thanks. I am really glad we don’t have guns, or not very often. I can imagine that people would be even more unlikely to intervene in that situation, or worse still – intervene with guns. Scary. Thing is, here in London there seems to be quite a lot of knife crime so I am always worried that people might randomly stab me if I intervened. I’ve already been mugged (not violently) so I don’t think it’s the best area!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. flatwhitetogo85

    You 100% did the right thing and don’t worry if you should have done “more”. He was obviously riled up and I’m sure things wouldn’t have ended well for you. Well done for even sticking around and trying to get evidence; many people would have looked the other way.

    I’m no expert in these situations (thankfully) but my mum used to do a lot of work with domestic violence victims. I remember her telling me that it’s very common for the fighting couple to turn on the third party who tries to help (which goes against what you’d instinctively think, because you’d think someone would be grateful for someone else trying to help them and would then back that person). I can also guarantee that he’ll be picked up and either not be prosecuted because she refuses to press charges, or he’ll be prosecuted and the case will collapse when it gets to court as she’ll change her mind and invariably decide to go back to him. Domestic violence is so awful and so unbelievably complicated. I guess it’s just another reminder (not that we need one) of how lucky we are to have gentle, supportive other halves.

    Like

    • Nara

      Yeah, depressing! I did what I could without getting overly involved. It is crazy to think people can’t intervene for fear of getting beaten up or killed. 😞

      Like

  11. libraryowl33

    You definitely did the right thing by calling the police. This guy sounds scary enough that he may have turned on you- that or if he’d seen you and the was later approached by the police that might not have ended well. I’m so sorry you had to witness something so disturbing. *hugs*

    Like

    • Nara

      Thank you. I’m fine… I just worry for the woman involved. I have no way of knowing if she’s okay or not. It’s really awful to think that’s someone’s “normal”.

      Liked by 1 person

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