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Witnessed domestic violence in public - did I do the right thing?

(33 Posts)
ThePartyArtist Thu 01-Oct-15 14:56:54

I am seeking advice about whether I have done the right thing in relation to witnessing domestic violence in public. I would also like to know if there is anything further I should do e.g. referring this to the police?

Today I was walking up an escalator beside a staircase in a bus station. At the top of the stairs was a couple. As I got onto the escalator I heard him say loudly that he didn't want to go home. The two of them were standing still at the top of the stairs. As I came level with them on the escalator, I noticed he was twisting her ear and continuing to say they should go home. His behaviour appeared calm, calculated and in control. She was fairly quiet, had a calm tone of voice although I think was protesting slightly, and was giggling slightly although I sensed this was nervous laughter rather than anything playful as I felt his actions were clearly agressive.

Without thinking I said loudly 'Excuse me' upon which they both turned round (he let go of her) and I said firmly 'don't treat her like that'. They were both staring at me open mouthed, and didn't say anything back. My exchange with them was very brief and I then walked away from them, however I have been left wondering if I did the right thing, and wondering will this make things worse for her, should I have spoken directly to her, should I have called the police etc. I felt she was not badly hurt enough to need help in that sense - rather his actions were controlling her and I wanted to make known that people had noticed.

Can you advise what I should have done and if I should do anything further? I felt that I had very limited time to act as I was moving past them on an escalator and my instinct was to stop the action from happening. I didn't feel this gave me time to call the police. I have a very hazy memory of them but know the location where it happened at about 9.08am this morning, he was very large (20 stone at least), scruffy appearance, think he was wearing joggers and a navy blue tracksuit top. She was around 5' 2'', hair in a ponytail, overweight. I would guess their ages to be mid thirties. Other than that I would have very little info to give the police.

MrsLeighHalfpenny Thu 01-Oct-15 15:02:34

I would say that you have no idea what was going on between the couple, and that you have leapt to one of many assumptions.

ThePartyArtist Thu 01-Oct-15 15:05:10

I agree I don't know the ins and outs. But I could clearly see him twisting her ear - that's violence and I felt compelled to speak up and say that is not ok.

MorrisZapp Thu 01-Oct-15 15:08:26

The police would have no interest in this.

slicedfinger Thu 01-Oct-15 15:10:50

I think you were right to intervene. Who knows, worse may happen in private, you'll never know, but you did something about what you could see.

hedgehogsdontbite Thu 01-Oct-15 15:12:33

Based on the info given here I think you were out of order to say anything and probably came across as a bit unhinged. If you were to now take it to the police I expect you'd get a hmm response. Sorry.

AnotherEmma Thu 01-Oct-15 15:14:07

I think you did the right thing in speaking up. Completely disagree with MrsLeighHalfpenny.

I don't think there is much more you can do sadly. Maybe speaking up will help the woman to realise her partner's behaviour is wrong. But ultimately it's up to her.

I think if the violence had been more obvious or severe it would be worth reporting to the police - especially if there was CCTV in the area. He may have got a caution and it would be on record even if she decided not to press charges.

FrozenPonds Thu 01-Oct-15 15:15:18

The ear twisting could have been utterly harmless.

I'm sure my husband and I have had similar 'top of the escalator' disagreements and neither of us are remotely controlling/violent/abusive.

It's just teasing and wildly differing shopping styles.

I'd be a bit open mouthed if a stranger had been so weird about it.

AnotherEmma Thu 01-Oct-15 15:15:29

Unhinged?! WTF?! The man is the unhinged one in this scenario. On what planet is it ok for him to twist his partner's ear? In public as well - that makes it even more shocking.

DreamingOfThruxtons Thu 01-Oct-15 15:18:55

OP, I would have done the same thing. If that makes me 'unhinged', so be it. Having said that, I doubt the police could do much about it from what you're able to report at this point.

I really don't understand what other interpretation you could put on a much larger person twisting the other's ear that that they are being abusive- and that sort of 'it's between the couple' attitude gets my goat, frankly. So- well done, OP, and you are a good person for still worrying about it. flowers

Shutthatdoor Thu 01-Oct-15 15:22:51

The thing is in these situations you don't know what has gone on before the ear twisting.

AnotherEmma Thu 01-Oct-15 15:25:41

"The thing is in these situations you don't know what has gone on before the ear twisting."

So what? Is there any conceivable scenario that would justify twisting someone's ear in an argument?

Would you say that about rape or murder - "oh we don't know if it was wrong because it depends what the victim was doing beforehand"?!!!

That's an extreme example and this is obviously not on the same scale. But it's the same principle.

OneDayWhenIGrowUp Thu 01-Oct-15 15:27:31

I have intervened in more severe DV in public - witnessed a man pinning a woman by her neck against a wall. I spoke to them, asked if she was ok, he told me to fuck off and she stayed silent. I then called the police. They both ended up being arrested for assaulting police officers hmm but there you go.

This ear twisting thing sounds weird and I can't quite picture it, but I'd err on the side of saying something for sure. If it's a playful game and they think you're a nosey loon so be it.

G1veMeStrength Thu 01-Oct-15 15:29:16

I was attacked in public and people stood by because they 'thought it was a domestic'. Its bloody sickening and well done OP for doing something. (Lucky for me it wasn't a domestic it was a one off stranger incident never to be repeated. But showed me how cowardly bystander apathy makes people.)

AnotherEmma Thu 01-Oct-15 15:30:31

It wasn't a playful game though, was it? The OP was there and saw it. She says the man was aggressive and the woman was laughing nervously. I trust her judgement.

MrsLeighHalfpenny Thu 01-Oct-15 15:31:48

I think she did the right thing at the time. I meant that there is nothing else she could/should do.

OneDayWhenIGrowUp Thu 01-Oct-15 15:46:55

AnotherEmma err, we're arguing the same side?

It could have been aggressive/abusive, it could have been play acting, the OP could be dead on or she may have misjudged the situation. The point being that in my opinion it's better to misjudge and intervene and be judged a loon than walk on by real abuse.

OneDayWhenIGrowUp Thu 01-Oct-15 15:49:30

Bystander apathy is absolutely staggering- I was assaulted in public with about 8-10 members of the public present, I asked for someone to call the police, no one did, I called myself as the attacker walked away.

Shutthatdoor Thu 01-Oct-15 15:53:11

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

AnotherEmma Thu 01-Oct-15 15:54:45

OneDay yes I agree with you. Just wanted to say that I trust the OP's judgement as others seemed to be implying she couldn't know. But you're right to say that even if she misjudged she was still right to challenge it.
Also, sorry to hear about what happened to you. Appalling.

AnotherEmma Thu 01-Oct-15 15:55:35

There's no need to be insulting.

Shutthatdoor Thu 01-Oct-15 15:57:23

There's no need to be insulting

Well as a victim of a sexual attack I found it insulting that you compared ear twisting and a snippet of a conversation heard on a moving escalator to a rape or murder.

Wishful80smontage Thu 01-Oct-15 15:59:54

I would have done the same and have done the same when I saw a man pulling a woman by her arm out of sainburys I shouted are you ok? And don't do that to him- I ask security to get involved which they didn't sad hope that lady is ok.

AnotherEmma Thu 01-Oct-15 16:00:11


Did you read the last part of my post?
"That's extreme example and this is obviously not on the same scale. But it's the same principle."

As a victim of sexual assault I would have thought you'd understand that victim blaming is wrong in the context of any crime.

Shutthatdoor Thu 01-Oct-15 16:03:50

As a victim of sexual assault I would have thought you'd understand that victim blaming is wrong in the context of any crime.

Where in my post did I 'victim blame' In fact I was actually posting from the point of view that the ear pinching could have been the tip of an iceberg, but no one knows.

You automatically assumed I was against the OP and jumped in with a ridiculous comparison.

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