T Nation

To Intervene or Not to Intervene?

Spend enough time in bars, pubs or clubs, or even just in the real world, and odds are you’re going to witness a violent confrontation. Not directly be the victim of one yourself hopefully, but see one at least.

The question is, do you get involved or not.

I’ve seen a few physical assaults - and sometimes I’ve stepped in, sometimes not. The times I’ve intervened, it was always the case of a girl being set upon a guy or bunch of guys. That’s not something I can let happen without doing something, or trying to. Guys being beaten, or guys or girls being verbally abused, I’ve generally stayed away from.

I’m not trying to be a tough guy here - I’ll openly admit I was absolutely shitting myself when I approached each and every one of those confrontations. Then for days after each event, I had to deal with the intense emotional and adrenal aftermath that’s hard to describe if you haven’t felt it. And on one occasion, intervening nearly cost me my life.

But I haven’t regretted any of my decisions to get involved to date. I can still see the faces of other male bystanders who turned towards the scene of the girl being attacked, watched nervously for a while and then turned away. I guess every man has to make up their own mind about what they should do - but they’re cowards in my book. (Actually what really got me angry - and still does when I think back to it - is how some of them came up to me/us when it was all over and asked if I/we needed any help. Yeah five minutes ago, you wanker.)

The reaction from my family and friends when hearing about each incident afterwards has been mixed. My girlfriend, understandably, has pleaded with me to walk away. More pathetically, both her father and mine separately told me never to get involved. (How the fuck could I NOT get involved! If that had been my girlfriend or my sister I sure as hell hope that someone else would have stepped in.) My mother and my closest friends understood.

I’m writing all this not to seem like a hero. Every bit of self-preservatory natural instinct within me was screaming for me to walk away from every violence I ever witnessed. And sometimes I did. Heck, even right now I don’t even know what I’d do if I saw something like that on the street tomorrow - in my experience, all preconceived notions of how brave you’d be and what you’d do, go right out the window the second you realise you’re in the middle of the real thing.

Perhaps I can’t be too harsh (though I am!) on those I call cowards. Perhaps I was also a coward for walking away at times when I should have stepped in. I don’t know and never will.

The point of this long-winded post is to hopefully kick off a discussion of how you guys who’ve been in similar situations have handled them. What you’ve learned, what you’d do differently, what you’d probably walk away from. Or anything related you’d care to share.

Regards, Rob

(Edited for detail.)

Kudos to you, Rob. I think it’s our duty to stand for what’s right… be it a drowning man, or an animal in trouble.

I rarely see such events, but I once stopped an incident in high school where a jock was slamming a geek up against the lockers (later, the jock and I became friends).

My college roommate once stopped a rape from occuring on a dark Philly street in a car.

I step into a violent confrontation that is none of my business under a few circumstances:

  1. A female being attacked by a male (unless the female is winning, in which case I just point and laugh)

  2. Someone being attacked who is no longer able to defend themselves, and/or has no interest in fighting and is being attacked for no reason

If it’s not one of those 2 scenarios, or the person getting attacked totally got themselves into that situation and is getting what was coming to them, I’ll stay out of it for the most part.

[quote]Bauer97 wrote:
I step into a violent confrontation that is none of my business under a few circumstances:

  1. A female being attacked by a male (unless the female is winning, in which case I just point and laugh)

  2. Someone being attacked who is no longer able to defend themselves, and/or has no interest in fighting and is being attacked for no reason

If it’s not one of those 2 scenarios, or the person getting attacked totally got themselves into that situation and is getting what was coming to them, I’ll stay out of it for the most part.[/quote]

Ditto.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

general rule here is to just walk away. coming from the south of ireland violent attacks are becoming increasingly dangerous.

about 2 weeks ago there was a fight on the top of the main street of the city between 3 15-17 year olds.

what made this insane ( ill try to find a report for it because it is tough to believe) is that after they started fighting another appeared with a cement shovel!

numbers grew as did the weapons, which included a stanly blade (box opener thing) and a hand scythe!

2 boys wiere brought to hospital, one with a chunk taken from his arm from the scythe and the other with a face like ribbons.

is it worth getting involved when pretty much anyone now is carrying some sort of murder weapon?

Depending on the situation, it’s not a question of worth. There are some things that take precedence in life, plain and simple.

[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:

The only really scary part for me is the thought that I might, in my disgust and outrage, do permanent damage to the lowlife piece of bullying shit, before I could stop myself.
[/quote]

That too.

Veg, wtf is going on in the south of Ireland? I understand from my Irish friends that the economy is taking a downturn - but good grief that sounds bizarre.

One problem with stepping into an abusive situation (guy on girl) is that, oddly enough, sometimes they both turn on the intervening dude. I’ve seen that happen. Often these are drunken fights that are only going to end up in bed later.

I’ve only ever intervened when I’ve seen a child being abused physically. Fuckin’ hate seeing that. Wont’ stand for it. Though I’ve been told by bystanders, parents, and everyone else that it’s none of my business. None of my business my ass.

its pretty much like everywhere, dont want to sound like a snobby prick, but its like chavs in england or the equivilant in the states.

there is a tv show about england about gang fighting/pitbull fighting as well as random beating/“happyslaps” ( hitting somone so it can go on youtube etc)

everyone knows the type im talking about ( maybe not to the extremity as i witnessed) but its getting to dire situations now.

also i forgot to add that that attack was at about 2-3 pm in full daylight.

if anyone can pull up old records of the “evening echo”, the cork newspaper, and look at the criminal notices, there will be about 5-7 at least a day involving attacks or violent crime.

p.s. im not saying ignore your moral values etc. im just saying that in where i live, there is alot more at risk if you do choose to get involved. I hate to see it too, but is it worth the risk when there have been caces here of people fighting on the street so that someone will intervine. what that person doesnt know is that the two fighting know each other and are just looking for someone to beat on.

p.p.s. economy is slowing down, but the extreme case im refering to is pretty much people stuck in the extreme poverty loop. like everywhere there are parts of the city that taxis will not go and people will not walk there at night for fear of whats happening.
it needed change for the last ten+ years and is not just a recent thing due to the celtic tiger going for a nap.

[quote]justrob wrote:
More pathetically, both her father and mine separately told me never to get involved. (How the fuck could I NOT get involved! If that had been my girlfriend or my sister I sure as hell hope that someone else would have stepped in.) My mother and my closest friends understood.

(Edited for detail.) [/quote]

Maybe because your dad cares about you and doesn’t want to see you ripped to shreds?

Growing up and working in my dad’s business we used to have hooligans starting fights with us 3-4 times a week.
Now my dad is a Bad Ass as are my 2 older brothers/sister, we tended to deal with those arseholes just fine.

Except for one occassion just before my dad retired(he was quite old by then), some local drug dealer came in 10 mins before closing and sucker punches my dad. Whilst on the floor my dad is getting kicked in the ribs, I managed to get the guy off and get an Ambulance. No one came to help and no one cared(including the cops).

Do you understand the point of the story?

I did go looking for the guy, but he vanished from the area.
Admitedly I was looking for revenge.

But I do agree some situations call for intervention, just don’t be so gung ho about it.

I would say I have stepped in only when needed, or I just didn’t want a damn fight by me.

The first time I was at a bar and this guy who I sorta knew was about to get his ass kicked. The guy I knew told the attacker that he wouldn’t throw a single punch and to just let him be. Well the would be attacker grabbed him and cranked back for a punch to the face. Well some how I ended up catching the guy’s fist right in front of my friends face. Haha I was only going for a block but I guess I got lucky and caught it. The attacker looked shocked and I told him to get lost, which he did.

The second time my girlfriend’s friend was about to get beat up by a Rugby player. The guy was possibly twice my size, but I stepped in front of him to tell him to calm down before he bull rushed a girl. Well I took a left hook to the face and was thrown head first into a brick wall…damn cheap shot. After bouncing my head of the bricks he start charging towards the girl.

After I picked my sorry ass up I was able to grab him from behind just before he nailed the lady friend. I returned the favor of the brick wall and held him down until his friends came.

Haha the next day he actually appolized for punching me and thanked me from keeping him from doing something stupid.

Like Bauer said, unless it’s a women or child getting a beating, do what Buddha would do: “Do not depend on others, determine your own salvation.”

I’ve gotten beaten up a few times for ‘intervening’ so I don’t think I can recommend it. I do however recommend working things out with words before you break out in fisticuffs. Personally, I make a living off being presentable and would like to keep my face from being ‘intervened’.

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
I’ve only ever intervened when I’ve seen a child being abused physically. Fuckin’ hate seeing that. Wont’ stand for it. Though I’ve been told by bystanders, parents, and everyone else that it’s none of my business. None of my business my ass. [/quote]

Don’t mean to hijack, but what do you call being physically abused?

I don’t mean a little spank on the rear; I mean being smacked around silly.

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
I don’t mean a little spank on the rear; I mean being smacked around silly. [/quote]

Then I agree with you.

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
I don’t mean a little spank on the rear; I mean being smacked around silly. [/quote]

Glad you cleared that up! I was about to go postal telling you to mind your own business, blah, blah, blah…

The only time I’ve ever seen anything like that is in bad neighborhoods with a single woman (usually pregnant) with about half a dozen screaming kids. You think she would have figured out that whole “birth control” thing by now.

I say don’t jump in…nothing good can come of it…take me for example…I was on a metro train once coming home from a long day of work…2 fuckers start pushing and shoving each other…they’re both in suits so it’s pretty obvious they’re not real tough guys…imagine those dumb bastards looks of surprise when I produced 2 sets of boxing gloves (I was working for the YMCA at the time) and told them we were taking it outside the train…a crowd of about a hundred formed a makeshift ring and a couple of guys actually stepped up to work the the 2 idiot’s corners…

I served as ref and a security guard jumped in to keep time…another security guard took bets and this hot blonde agreed to be the ring girl, but we couldn’t find any posterboard or magic markers so we told her to just walk around the ring holding up however many numbers of fingers for the round we were on…anyway…we got the 2 guys out fighting, but they just went at it half-assed not really trying to punch each other…

some drunk showed up and yelled at the ring girl to show him her tits…and we all realized we had to get home…so…everyone tried to pile back onto the next train, but it was pretty crowded already, so it took a while for everyone to clear out…She Say still doesn’t believe me when I tell her it really happened and that’s why I was late for getting the kids to soccer practice.

You guys sayin’ don’t jump in are either thinking of different situations than I am (two idiots wanna have at ‘er in a bar, go crazy, I ain’t goin’ nowhere near that) but if your sister gets bottled, you’re gonna want someone in there to protect her, I mean come on.