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To feel so bad that I didn't intervene?

(50 Posts)
CantChoose Sun 22-Jan-17 07:31:22

I was shopping yesterday and saw the tail end of an altercation. The bit I saw was two ladies telling another lady to 'go home', the lady replied that she was home and that she was born here. One of the two ladies said that didn't matter and again that she should fuck of home, they then walked off.
I'm so upset with myself for not saying anything to them or at the very least approaching the lady to check she was ok.
I didn't see what happened to start it off and I was so shocked that by the time I realised what was going on it felt a bit late and I was embarrassed to approach the lady.
There's nothing I can do now to make up for it really is there? Also, those of you who do react to stuff like that do you always do it? Is it just part of your personality? I wish I was braver!

GinAndOnIt Sun 22-Jan-17 07:35:39

I don't think I would have challenged the two, for my own safety, but I would probably have had a gentle 'you're very welcome here' word with the lady as I walked past once the others had gone.

I, like you, would love to be braver, but in confrontation I'm useless.

LostSight Sun 22-Jan-17 07:37:21

You were shocked and frightened, which is natural. You've now had time to think, and have concluded you wished you had done something.

Learn from this, think through the situation and tell yourself that next time, you will find your courage. You can't change this time. Guilt does no good. Learn from it and move on.

TenaciousOne Sun 22-Jan-17 07:43:05

GinandOnIt isn't that a bit patronising? It's not like the lady wasn't from the UK (assuming this happened in the UK) she was born here and its her home regardless of whether she was welcome.
To the OP I'm not sure I would get involved with the 'aggressors' but would probably check the other lady was ok.

wishparry Sun 22-Jan-17 07:43:57

That is such an awful thing to witness and that poor woman must have been so scared.
I think if I'd witnessed that I would have stood next to the lone lady and said "no perhaps you two should go home before the police arrive" or something to that affect.
Please don't feel bad,you were probably quite shocked at the time flowers

GinAndOnIt Sun 22-Jan-17 07:49:06

Yes, you're right Tenacious - sorry, I'm not very good at saying the right thing.

MontePulciana Sun 22-Jan-17 08:01:31

I'd have said something. By standing there gawping you might as well join in with the bullies. They only do it because most people don't have the balls to stand up to them. Remember the clip of the racist incident on the tram in manchester? Tram full of people too scared to stand up to two thugs? Thankfully the American man could stand up for himself and told the racist thugs what he thought of them. I think it's a very British thing to get all upset about what you have heard and tell everyone about it afterwards but not actually have any guts to stop it in future. So it'll just keep happening. And happening.

CantChoose Sun 22-Jan-17 08:03:49

I think that was one of my worries too tenacious, she was obviously responding to the ladies herself and I wouldn't have wanted to take anything away from her by getting involved.
I don't think I perceived any particular threat from the ladies if I'm honest, they were in their late 60s and although clearly nasty probably not violent. I could have easily defended myself anyway - unless others piled in on their side I suppose!
On reflection, I like to think that if I see anything like this again (I really hope I never do) I would go up to the lady and say that must have been horrible, maybe offer to buy her a cup of tea to settle her nerves!! It's hard to know what to do for the best but I feel like complete inaction wasn't my finest hour!
It was in the U.K., in marks and spencer in Bluewater tenaciousx

guinnessguzzler Sun 22-Jan-17 08:07:21

I've seen some articles on this sort of thing before that the thing to do is ignore the aggressors and just strike up a conversation with their target. I think that can be anything from 'Are you ok?' to general small talk. I think it shows the aggressors to back off because the person is no longer alone but without directly approaching them. I'm sure there were a few pieces in the press on it after a high profile train incident last year.

I think it's really hard to act in that sort of situation so you just need to prepare a plan so you feel more ready next time. That's what I did after not intervening in a similar sort of situation. Of course now I've put some thought into what I would do in future I've never been in that situation again!

It's rea

Brollsdolls Sun 22-Jan-17 08:07:47

I saw a similar incident on a train around 15 years ago. No one did anything sad It was really awful and I felt terrible about it for ages after. I was quite taken aback at the time, but vowed to do something if it ever happened again.

CantChoose Sun 22-Jan-17 08:08:21

I actually agree with you monte but thinking and doing aren't quite as easy as each other.
I saw a video of a road rage incident the other day but what struck me was that nobody intervened for ages. Eventually one person tried to stop it and within seconds at least 5 people came over to help. Once one person has put their head above the parapet it's easier to follow (I'm sure if someone else had said something I would have been prompted to help too) but being that person is scary. And you're right, not very 'british'.

haveacupoftea Sun 22-Jan-17 08:09:19

Its easy to say what you think you would have done, but in that situation it all depends on your own bodys response mechanism. Some people just freeze. Particularly when shocked.

When I was in my twenties I saw a mother in her fifties slap a girl of about 8 around the face and shout at her. I just stood there in shock and left. I still think about it and wish I had intervened. I think I could now that I have experienced the situation already iyswim.

BoffinMum Sun 22-Jan-17 08:10:35

I always intervene unless I am likely to get punched (and even then I would do it from a distance). What I do is walk up to the person being harassed and start talking to them in a super-friendly way as though I know them, with perhaps the offer of tea and a sit down, and freezing the aggressor out. It disrupts the bad humour very well.

guinnessguzzler Sun 22-Jan-17 08:10:37

X post. Your suggested solution is spot on then I reckon.

I think the tram incident referred to above was what led to some press about what to do in these sorts of cases.

Velvian Sun 22-Jan-17 08:11:00

I don't know what it is, OP, but the few times I have been in M&S in the last few years I have witnessed some really vile behaviour. Maybe they run an ad campaign about how to treat fellow humans.
Don't feel too bad; if something similar happens again you can behave differently.

MontePulciana Sun 22-Jan-17 08:11:51

We teach our kids to stand up to bullies. It shouldn't stop into adult life. Racists need calling out and shaming. Even fragile old ladies.

CantChoose Sun 22-Jan-17 08:12:03

That's interesting guinness, I'll try and remember that.
YY brollsdolls, I've never seen anything like it before, perhaps I live a sheltered life. I don't know how long it had been going on before I go there though I suspect not long as they were kind of walking along as it was happening but I only saw about 30 seconds.
Hopefully if there's a next time I will be able to process it and react quicker.
Thanks for all the reponses.

Hassled Sun 22-Jan-17 08:12:15

You didn't respond because you were shocked and it was a new and different situation for you - you didn't already have a "X is happening so I'll do Y" memory, IYSWIM. But next time you will, and it'll feel more natural to intervene or support the victim. Don't beat yourself up about it.

NavyandWhite Sun 22-Jan-17 08:15:02

Horrible situation OP.

I honestly believe that now and on going we all have to be a little braver in situations like this.

I saw a clip on FB just after Brexit regarding what we should do in the scenario you describe OP, it said that instead of arguing with the abusive person go and stand or sit with the person being racially attacked. Ask their name, how they are, what are they up to today etc this shuts down the dialogue between the two. It shows the racist person that someone is listening and taking note of what they're saying but they won't just sit and ignore them or walk by. They will stand up for the person.

I honestly believe we should be doing this when we see such hatred.

Ledkr Sun 22-Jan-17 08:17:24

My 14 year old dd was rounded on recently by a group of girls and sworn at threatened and eventually hit on the head.
The one thing she and I have struggled with most is that it was in McDonald's on a busy Saturday afternoon and not one single person helped her or even gave their name as a witness.
Really sad.

NavyandWhite Sun 22-Jan-17 08:24:49

That's shocking Led. Poor dd sad

BeingATwatItsABingThing Sun 22-Jan-17 08:26:39

I was walking out of Sainsbury's once, when I suddenly heard a man shout "what the fuck are you looking at?!" I didn't know who he was shouting at (knew it couldn't be me as I hadn't been looking even vaguely in his direction) so I sort of sped up out of the shop.

I was then waiting outside for DP to come back from getting petrol and the man came storming out of the shop followed by security. One of them was not white British so the man was screaming at him to go home, stop stealing our jobs, blah blah blah. He said no one wanted him (the security guard) there so he should go. I was desperate to say "Actually, I want him here because he is keeping us safe from you, you do not speak for me!" but the man was quite large and very aggressive. I didn't know if he would get violent. Had my DP been there, he would have intervened more effectively as he's a PC.

Unfortunately, these incidents are becoming more common and I know I'll snap at some point.

EmpressOfTheSpartacusOceans Sun 22-Jan-17 08:28:57

A couple of twats yelled abuse at my mixed race cousin, including telling her to go back where she came from.

It was in a busy London station & while she gave as good as she got, she said the worst of it was that nobody backed her up. People either stared or kept walking.

I decided at that point that if I saw something like that I'd have to get involved. I think chatting to the person being abused is a really good idea.

ThaliaLuxurySpa Sun 22-Jan-17 08:29:27

This illustrates beautifully what PPs described: isolating the aggressor and showing solidarity with the person being verbally abused.

Obviously the Islamophobia/ location etc. can be altered to suit circumstances.

Iris65 Sun 22-Jan-17 08:33:14

Something similar happened as I was walking past two young girls and an older man. When I heard what was being said I stopped and went and stood by the girls. I completely ignored the man and asked if they were OK. Luckily the man just walked off. I had a little chat with the girls and stayed with them to make sure that the man had really gone. I also had my phone in my hand ready to dial the police if necessary.
I am a teacher so it is easier for me to intervene in things I think! Others probably think that I am just a bossy cow!

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