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.

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