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.