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.
(Edited for detail.)