Hushed Housemates: The Bystander Effect in the Jersey Shore House

Hushed Housemates: The Bystander Effect in the Jersey Shore House

*The Jersey Shore house sees abuse again in tonight’s episode. If you tune in, we want to hear your thoughts. To prepare, we want to talk about what we saw in the last showdown between Ronnie and Sammi, particularly what the housemates did (or rather didn’t) do. Tonight’s episode plays out a little differently, but watch for the involvement/non-involvment of the roommates.*

Bystander effect: where individuals do not offer any means of help in an emergency situation to the victim when other people are present. (wikipedia)

One of the greatest things about friends is they always seem to have your back. Whether it’s filling you in on the assignment you missed in class when you were out sick or reassuring you that no one saw your epic wipe out down the stairs between periods, friends stick up for you when you need it. So wouldn’t you expect the same defense when it comes to something big, like dating abuse?

In the episode “Drunk Punch Love” on Jersey Shore we saw a classic example of bystander effect demonstrated by the roommates. The cameras caught shots of the roommates listening to the loud fight develop, showed them talking about it, and even showed their reactions to Sammi punching Ronnie.

Other than Mike’s sympathetic hug, no one acknowledged the violent action. We thought maybe we would see a housemate talk about the punch in a confessional interview or see someone mention something about the punch to Ronnie, but nothing was done. The only action that seemed to prompt any kind of verbal reaction from the roommates was Sammi’s threat to leave the house. That moved them. Seeing their friend punched across the face didn’t.

The housemate’s ignoring the action of the punch did one of two things. It further isolated Ronnie, by making him feel like the punch was not a big deal, and it sent a message to Sammi that they didn’t think her violence was worth talking about, therefore, not that bad of an action.

We at loveisrespect want to remind you how key of a role you play in the safety of those around you. When you see a friend mistreated, speak up. Let them know that you’re there and that you support them. Sometimes just listening is key. No matter what, do or say something. Ignoring the act doesn’t make it go away. It worsens the hurt.

We want to remind you of ways to help someone in need:

Tell someone

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. Form a crowd. 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. Suggest taking a walk or going into another room. This is a good idea since it may calm down the abuser and it removes the victim from immediate harm.

Consider your re-enforcements

Sometimes you can feel safe doing something because you know your friends are watching. Use your group of friends as backups, whether it is ensuring you are safe as you intervene or having them chime in and reiterate your message of safety to the couple.

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.

Comment section

17 replies
  1. I think that it is sad that this site has to use Jersey Shore as an outlet to reach out to woman that are potentially being abused. It seems that society is on a decline. If it doesn’t relate to a piece of pop culture such as this, people do not listen. The show is mindless and not to mention it is also a “reality” show. Reality shows are not real. Maybe at an older age I can see the correlation. Abuse is very real and women need to be educated more about the signs and affects of abuse.

  2. It is very sad to come to a site that has been talked about on Dr Phil (someone that help’s D.V. & find that you have to some people that “ACT BAD on TV” & it’s as if you are promoting a “TV Show, J.S.” by you want to hear from other’s what they think. Those kid/adult’s (they’re drinking in public so THEY ARE ADULT’S!)on that show have adult’s around them taping this show, telling them to act as bad as they can to make even more money, be on more show’s. It is sick that these low lives on this show & a few other’s are promoted.

    Show us Education from “real Life” NOT this trash TV, you could have had that stated at the top of the page. I lived with abuse for 10 yrs so I’ve never watched anything with any of the adult’s on this JShore.

  3. T have now read the different topic’s. I think what I’m seeing here is L&R using some TV show’s that young people may watch. (which I still think no parent should allow) but it help’s L&R have example’s to show & have teen’s talk about & show this is not “normal” healthy relationship’s. (especially since most of us have never seen in our own family, so we do not know how to chose the right person) I still wish you would still have the word’s of not promoting these show’s.

    Also after reading another area someone had that Physical Abuse is not as bad as Verbal & Mental, I would like for all to know BOTH are equal. Most people have the verbal & mental done at them long before the hitting began’s.

    Also Thank You Love&Respect for having a safe place for all to learn & helping us learn what we DO NOT want in our life.

  4. I would have to say your website and hotline help me see the red flags in a unhealthy abusive and where to find resources in my area to get help so thankyou and ;mtv for providing your number on new orleans realworld. Anyways back to jersey shore I feel like you took that one episode and judge sammi by her heat of the moment explosion where her straw finally broke. Obviously you have not watched from season one where sammie and ronnie fell in love. Sammie lloved that man and you fail to notice the change in ronnies behavior he has been pshycologiacally abusive and emotionaly abusive towards sammie since second season. We cannot forget abusers manipulate and they are charming but to the person they love they want to control. Sammie doesn’t even know she is being abused because of this exactly. People forget hitting is not the only form of abuse. I think we should post the red flags and cycle of abuse again. One second he tells her he loves herr he only want o be with her. He always wants her with him everywhere he goes in the house. He wants sammie to only be with him so that is the control yet when he feels like it he emotionally withdraws and make sammy feel lonely and he is out there messing with other women coming home to her saying he loves her and she is only one. When she questions he lies to her which is another red flag he gets made at her throw her clothes has calledd her bitch hoe all sorts of names and intimidates her by flexing his muscles acting like it funny in front of his buddys.muscles. He talks about his ex calls her when he is made at her. Makes her cry her self estteem is low she cannot even have fun cause she is so wrapped in this crazy spider web he has spun she shows all the signs she is being abused and noone is offering her support they just say oh why do you go back with him cause she love him and she is stuck in the house with hime. I wish someone could have offered sammey support like this number offered me and not be judged by her friends/ roomates.

  5. I agree that it is sad that they had to use Jersey Shore as an example. But someone is in this world dealing with the same situation as Ronnie and Sam. I am a teenage girl and i have a friend who had a boyfriend that didn’t even trust her. I feel like its more common for young girls to get in an abusive relationship because the abuser is making them think its “love”. I was smart enough to tell my friend that it wasn’t good that he called her a liar and tried to control her. It got so bad that one day he hit me and she just watched and didn’t say anything. That’s how I knew it was going down hill for her. I talked to her about it and even though she didn’t automacially break up with him she did later on break up with him. I feel like this behavior comes from what the guy/girl sees or doesnt see in their everyday life. As a youth i feel like we need better role models.

  6. I am sorry but I have to speak on the behalf of Sammie. Obviously you have not been watching Jersey Shore from Season one until this season to see what lead to Sammies outburst. Physical abuse is not the only kind of abuse and your sight is what made me aware of So I am surprised you are sticking up for Ronnie so much and feeling so sorry for him, he is the source of this problem and he has been abusive since season two. I Not making an excuse for Sammies action but the person who is being abused eventually does something abusive back because her straw finally broke. Sammie has been so in love with Ronnie she is sweet heart Sammie and look what she has become because of being mentally and phsychologically abuse by him for two seasons. Noone has done anything about Ronnie abusing sammy either. Sammie probaby doesn’t even know she is being abused and or her roomates don’t see it and surprisingly you don’t which I am surprised because this site is what made me realize that hitting is not the only form af abuse and this site offered me support I needed to get out of the abuseive relationship I was in for two years. You helped me see the red flags and the cycles of abuse and your hotline offered support when I had noone to turn to and offered me resources in my area to create a saftey plan to escape. I found your number on MTV, they showed it on New Orleans Real World. I have been following Jersey Shore at first for light weight entertainment and then because I saw that Sammy was showing signs of being in a abusive dating relationship, isolation from her other housmates and living in Ronnies world, always being pleasing to his needs, she started feeling depressed crying almost every episode because she is so confuse what is happening why is he hurting her, tired like she had no energy to get away from him, anger from his lies. He manipulates her, call her a hoe, a bitch if she questions what the other household members are saying is true. He cheats on her behind her back and come back home and acts like he loves her and want her to live in his room. She cannot get away from him cause she is same house. He lies to her, he uses intimidation by flexing his muscels, he stand in door ways, he trys to make her jealous by calling his ex, he is controlling, and makes the the other household members lie for him cause he doesn’t want Sammie to know because he doesn’t want to lose control over Sammie. He is charming and denys he is doing anything wrong and always make Sammie feel like it’s her fault. THen there is honey moon period, where she thinks she has the old Ronnie back. That hit she gave him is nothing compared to what he has done to her emotionally, sadness and anger is a very physical emotion so she is physically drained to. I can only imagined how much he would abuse her if they lived together off camera. She is tired because she feels like she has no support, so it pushes her back to him, everyone in the house thinks she is stupid cause she is staying with him, so she is alone, and that is what abusers do isolate you from others because they promise they love you and they are sorry. I think we need to really not just look at the surface of the problem we need to look at the root. I f we keep letting guys or abusers off the hook people are going to continue to not be educated on what abuse is. There is so much I have to say that I learned in my support group but it is way to complicated just like a spider web. I hope she is able to get the support I was able to get.

  7. Erin, thanks so much for commenting. You’re right that there has been a lot of abuse between both Ronnie and Sammi on the show. Ronnie has absolutely been abusive towards Sammi, both verbally abusive and physically abusive (we’re about to talk about this, but especially with how he broke her stuff in the last episode). This is a toxic, unhealthy relationship. We tried to be as careful as possible to say this when we first started talking about the Ronnie punch– we’re not taking sides. We are focused on examining the punch as an act of dating violence. We wanted to point out that Sammi is not right in hitting Ron. It’s a common trait of abusers that they feel justified in their violence. Abuse is never permissible. Our goal for these posts was to take this instance of dating violence (the punch) and to dissect this situation- not their whole relationship but this particular punch- so that our readers could see the commonalities in this situation and in the dating abuse that happens at their schools, between their friends or even in their own relationships.

    We’re doing a post soon on Ronnie’s abusive outburst last week. Thanks for contributing and helping us talk about this. We’re glad you got the support you deserve. Remember that we’re still here to talk if you need us.

  8. Hi Genia. One of the goals for our blog is to provide a context for what we see at school, in our homes, on TV, online, etc. Abuse isn’t right. We need to keep talking about it so that everyone knows that they deserve a healthy relationship. You bring up a good point about verbal and mental abuse- it is important that people know that this is extremely damaging and should be taken seriously.

    Also, you mention living with abuse. If you’re still in that situation, know that you can call The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for anonymous help. Thanks for commenting & stay safe.

  9. wow kind of messed up with the hole thing with ronnie and sammie! hey lets watch and sea what ronnie can do with out sammie tonight!

  10. And i think that with sammie gone and if ronnie wants to go i think that the rest of the time it wont be as mutch action but it might be and it might not but Has any one els seen how controaling Mike or/ {The situation} or whatever he wants to cal himself but he is just controaling over evry one but not to girls sometimes but to like the other people in the house like snokie Pauly D just he thinks that he is like thew daddy or the king or the rooler in the house he doesnt lay down any rools in the house so does any one agree with me if you do or even if you dont pleas just poast what you thik about what i said thanks and by.

  11. I watched this episode and my jaw hit the floor and I was in shock. i give Sam credit for leaving. Sam also had it coming though she hit Ronnie. People need to understand that when you are in an abusive relationship you need to get out of it is is very unhealthly.

  12. Yeah Maddy i agree with you but the other girl that says that sammi is stupid i dissagree because she said that she needed to go home and recover and heal and now that i think that she has done that she is comeing back and now that ronnie was hurt so badly and he kind of felt her pain i think he will change his ways and come to realaty and sit and just talk with her and well i just hope that they can reason with each other or we will just be seaing more of singel Ronnie and more of singel Sammie but i want them to work it out and get back to gether any one els think so?.

  13. i think that sammie is sad to say but stupid she starts things with ronnie for no living reason and she makes things up in her head that is not true. yea ronnie was wrong for what he did in miami but still that was the past and she need to focus on the now i mean he already apallagized to her and that should be behind them u dont keep bringing a bad situation up no-matter how much it hurts u just gotta let it slide and see what happens LOVE YOU RONN

Comments are closed.

caret-downemailfacebookgoogleplusLove is Respect Heart Iconlinkedinmagnifying-glasspdfpinterestreddittumblrtwitter
Click to go back to top of page.