Last Friday, the ABC show “What Would You Do?” featured a teen dating abuse situation. The program is a hidden-camera, reality show in which actors stage different scenarios in order to see how bystanders would react. In this episode, two teen actors played a couple in a park and while park-goers watched, the actor playing the boyfriend belittled the girl, grabbed her arm and threatened her. Watch part 1 by clicking on the still below.
Some bystanders intervened, some did not. People got involved at various levels too. One woman came sprinting down a hill to physically separate the two, while others said strong words but walked away. Others yet did nothing and pretended not to see.
After watching this segment, you can’t help but think of what you would do if you were a witness to that same situation. It can be hard to know how to respond. We at loveisrespect have some tips.
If you see abuse taking place:
Call 9-1-1 if you feel unsafe stepping in. If you’re at school and feel that you can leave the situation without your absence jeopardizing the victim, go tell a teacher. Or yell for a teacher if you don’t want to walk away. Make sure someone knows that this is happening.
Make your presence known
Stand around the couple. At several points in the videos, crowds start to form around the couple. Not only is there safety in numbers, but it puts pressure on the abuser to stop and it strengthens the resolve of the people watching to intervene since there’s a sense of group unity.
Separate the pair
Try to separate the couple if possible. Did you notice in the video when the former organizer of a woman’s shelter ushered the girl away from the boyfriend? Or when that mom guided the young girl away by saying “Let’s take a walk”? This is a good idea since it may calm down the abuser and it removes the victim from immediate harm.
Consider your re-enforcements
The young woman who rushed down the hill to intervene said that she felt safe in doing so because she had friends watching her. Use your group of friends the same way.
We hope that you will do everything in your power to help a person being abused. Some of our friends at the loveisrespect Facebook page wrote us telling about situations they had seen where no one acted to help. This does happen and we all have to do our part to keep those around us safe. Thanks for reading.