Twitter users have been sharing techniques and advice on how to deal with witnessing domestic abuse in a public space, read on to learn from their stories.
Abusive relationships often hide behind closed doors. Whether it be psychological conditioning like gaslighting, verbal attacks or physical harm, most predators prefer to keep their victims away from friends, family or onlookers who might try to help and break the control they’ve managed to build.
But sometimes these types of relationships rear their ugly heads in broad daylight, and if you’ve ever witnessed domestic abuse play out in front of you, you’ll know it’s a deeply disturbing thing to witness and incredibly difficult to know how to react.
Of course, women are not the only ones affected by abuse: people of all ages and appearances, and of all classes, cultures, abilities, genders, sexualities, races and religions can be victims. However, the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) estimates that 1.2 million women experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2017. Another estimated 4.3 million women aged 16-59 have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16.
Due to the hidden nature of abuse, though, these figures are almost guaranteed to be far higher. As such, abuse is an issue that will most likely touch the lives of people we know in some way. But would you know what to do if you witnessed an act of abuse? One Twitter user has flagged how hard it can be to react in this situation, asking other social media users for advice on what to do.
The answers were enlightening.
Shouting out to her Twitter followers, user Feminist Next Door asked: “Good guys: tell me about a time you saw misogyny or predatory behaviour in action and spoke up. What did you say? What are your suggestions for other men in this situation? #NotCoolMan”
The post received (at time of writing) over 900 replies, with many of the replies sharing comprehensive advice and techniques on what to do if in this situation, as well as examples of scenarios that users have found themselves in.
We’ve picked out some of the best techniques from the thread to learn from in case you do ever find yourself witnessing a woman in trouble, and feel like you want to step in.
Sit next to a woman if she’s in trouble on the tube
Keep your distance and eye contact with the woman
Offer them a way to access supportive services and go with them
Subtly intercept the situation
Stay vigilant if a woman looks too intoxicated to deal with the situation
All of these suggestions are just that, suggestions. You should never feel pressured to intervene or enter a situation you don’t feel comfortable in.
But by having these conversations we can spread awareness of what domestic abuse can look like, and how we can try and support women in these situations.
Visit womensaid.org.uk or call 0808-2000 247 for more information about coercive control, domestic abuse, and the help available for those affected.