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did I do the right thing calling the police?(4 Posts)
a while back at about 11pm I bumped into a family while out with my dog - mum, dad, early-teens daughter. The dad was right in the daughter's face yelling at her - he was clearly drunk. I slightly know them and my appearance was enough to quieten everything right down. They headed off home. I walked on and a pair of young women asked me if I knew the family. These two young women said before I arrived the dad had been 'laying into' the daughter and they had asked the mum to intervene to stop it. The mum's attitude was annoyance that they were getting involved. They were genuinely worried - not being melodramatic, or exaggerating IMO.
When I got home I was very worried about it all. I only saw two options: do nothing and forget about it, or ring the police. In the end I rang the police and explained what I had seen, what I had been told, and that I was concerned. The female call handler I spoke to said phoning was the right thing to do - it wasn't my responsibility to decide whether everything would turn out okay and it was better 'safe than sorry'.
They're not a family I see very often - maybe a couple of times a week when they/me are out with the dog. Usually we have friendly chit-chat and our dogs get along well.
Since this event the dad still nods and says hello, but the mother and daughter ignore me completely. They seem to have correctly assumed that I made the phone call (although it could have been the two young women, who saw the whole event and were involved at the time). I understand having the police turn up at your door to discuss a family argument played out on the street is embarrassing - it might open a can of worms - and I can understand their being annoyed at me.
But then I run the 'what if' scenarios round in my head. What if it had got out of hand and someone had ended up hurt or dead? It happens. What if it wasn't the dad doing the shouting/hitting - maybe some boyfriend, or a stranger - surely in that case the mother/daughter would be hugely grateful that I involved the police? I took some serious beatings when I was a child - the kind that nowadays would earn a parent some time in jail. It stopped the day I told my dad 'if he laid a fucking hand on me' I'd go to the police. Also the first and only time I ever swore at a parent. There were times I'd have thanked someone for sending the police to our house.
I've considered whether it is 'embarrassment' that is making the mum/daughter ignore me - but I've seen pure hatred in the looks they've given me since.
Did I do the right thing? Do I try to talk to the mum to let her understand the position I was in?
Who knows if you did the best thing?
The father might have given the mother & daughter a whole load of grief and smacked them about a bit once the police had gone, or he might have realised he's a big bully and be trying to mend his ways as a direct result of your phone call.
The point, as I see it, is that you did what you thought was right at the time.
I must admit, given the reactions of the three of them, it seems that mother and daughter perhaps did get some additional grief, as they seem to be particularly annoyed at you; whereas the dad seems to be keen to give you the impression that no harm was done, no hard feelings etc (this makes me think that he wants you to think he's a decent chap, when I doubt that he's anything but!).
I would stress that you were absolutely right, while I appreciate that family matters are a personal issue when it comes to domestic violence it really should be everyone's problem. If more people were like you and willing to be proactive in their society the world may just be a nicer place. Also if the police did their job effectively and had better measures in place to tackle these issue the death rates would be much lower!
If the mother and daughter are ignoring you and giving you looks, I would hesitate to make any assumptions, but it could be that they have been warned not to speak to you or they are simply ashamed that someone knows of their darkness!! As for the father, I agree with the previous comment. In any case, they should appreciate that people are concerned. In a sense you were lucky that your father stopped when you build the courage to stand up to him as there are people who simply cannot find an exit / STOP.
Personally, I would never hesitate to contact the police if in a position where someone's life may be in danger.
Thanks Tina and the earlier person who replied - I really appreciated what you've said - it's reassuring. Thanks.