Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Just Do Something

"While Barkley continued to straddle the woman, who was crying, two women walked by on the street and did nothing, the affidavit said."


Just a few days ago, two women walked by a man obviously assaulting a woman near the UT campus.  They didn't bother calling 911.

Now here's the thing:  I know why people act like this.  Anyone who has ever been subjected to my Kitty Genovese drill knows, too.  I don't care, it's still infuriating.

(I'm not the only one who's angry.  Read my friend Jennie's blog on the same subject.)

What happens is this...you're minding your own business and something shocking happens.  Someone is suddenly assaulted right there in front of you.  Probably it begins and ends before you even understand what's going on.  This is why people just stand around there looking around in YouTube videos when "something bad happens".  It's been over for several seconds before the bystanders even start whispering among themselves "did you see that?!".

Or maybe it's not over that fast and you have the opportunity to help.  But you probably don't.  Seriously.  The more shocked you are by that statement the less likely you are to actually be of any use under pressure.

Because...your brain freezes.  (Whaaaaa?...)

Then  denies.  (No, that can't be happening...I've misunderstood.  Are they filming a video?  You know, the film industry has been booming in Austin.  But it looks like he's really punching that guy...no, I'm imagining that, it's not that bad)

Then it freaks & goes numb.  (What am I supposed to do?  Nobody else is doing anything.  I don't want to get hurt. I don't want to get in trouble. He could have a knife! Nooooo.....just keep going, he'll be fine.)

This is normal.  Unfortunately, most people get stuck here.  

What it comes down to is that people don't know what to do, so they do nothing.  

But as I tell my students after the Kitty G. drill, you are going to have to live with your decision, whatever it is, for the rest of your life.

If you're reading this blog, you probably have some knowledge of or at least an interest in self-defense training, and therefore some clue of how and when to intervene.  

But what if you are unable or unwilling to physically jump into an assault in progress?  Should you just pretend you didn't see it?  Not if you want to sleep at night.

Try this:

*Just yell STOP!! as loudly and commandingly as you can.  Do not make a request.  Make a COMMAND.  I was shocked when this actually worked for me once out in public.  Let them know you see them and what they're doing.  If you are not actively in immediate danger do not leave the area until it is safe for you and for the victim.  Stay on the job like a dog on a bone.

*Hold up your smartphone like you're filming or taking pictures & say you got them on film.  Hopefully you actually do.  You may have to run like hell if they turn on you, so be ready.  In the time it takes them to process what just happened & shift gears you can have a nice head start.  Yes, I'm being completely serious.  

*Call 911 & say loudly that you're doing so.  Remember, you're not just trying to catch a criminal, you're trying to stop a crime in progress.

*Recruit anyone else who may be around to help you.  Bang on doors or wave down cars if necessary.  Remember, you are not making a request, you are ordering them to act:  "Call 911 NOW, I'll watch where he goes." People are astonishingly obedient.  Mostly they just want someone to tell them what to do.  Again, I'm being serious.  The more sudden and frightening the situation, the more obedient they become to clear and authoritative orders.

Please know I'm not talking about consensual fighting.  If two people you don't know are in a brawl, I'm not convinced that's your problem.  

But if a man is straddling and choking a weeping and struggling woman on the sidewalk and you just stroll on by, you should carry around business cards that say Rotten Bastard so the rest of us can avoid you like the plague you are.

Please do one thing for me by Sunday.  Please start a conversation with someone you know that goes something like this..."Did you hear about that woman who was attacked near campus?  Those women saw it but walked by and did nothing! Can you believe that? What would you do?  I wonder what I would really do?  Well, I guess I could get out my phone..."

Plant the seed that blooms into citizens who know what they can do in an emergency.  This is the first step to a person actually doing something.   

And if you are someone who is willing to jump in physically to help a victim of crime, I hope you train, and I hope you're training with me.  You're the kind of person that's awesome to have around.