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[Poll] intervening in domestic violence

  1. Do not mention it or ask questions

    1 vote(s)
  2. Try to talk to her but do not report it to the police

    3 vote(s)
  3. Try to talk to her and if she doesn't do anything, report it to the police

    6 vote(s)
  4. Report it to the police immediately

    8 vote(s)
  1. Oct 5, 2005 #1


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    Ok here's the situation:

    You live next door to couple that has 2.3 children, 2 cars, etc etc blah blah normal people right? Let's say that you notice the wife/woman has bruises on her a lot and you always hear screaming coming from the house. You know the man is an alcoholic as well. How would you intervene if you chose to intervene at all?

    And yes, it is domestic abuse, not something moonbear made up to cast a shadow of a doubt on my poll!!! :devil: :devil: :devil:
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2005 #2
    My neighbors were like this: 3 kids, an alcoholic father and his 2nd alcoholic wife (who was actually his neice by marriage to his first wife). They would get in fights and beat each other up. The woman even punched my mom once (long story). We were friends with the kids so we tried to get the girl emancipated from her father cause it was so crappy living there for her. I don't know if my parents ever called the cops, but I would if I noticed what you posited.

    Is there any reason not to?
  4. Oct 5, 2005 #3


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    Well I'm sure there is and im wondering how many there are, thus a thread :D
  5. Oct 5, 2005 #4


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    Pengwuino, when are you going to learn that the thread automatically displays the word "poll" before the title whenever you insert a poll?

    (I apologize for not actually contributing.)
  6. Oct 5, 2005 #5


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    obviously never
  7. Oct 5, 2005 #6


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    None of the above. Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. For all I know, she could have some sort of seizure disorder or works in a prison and is getting bruised at work not home, and the screaming is either completely unrelated, or her taking out work frustrations on her husband rather than the other way around.

    If I did manage to talk to her and really did suspect abuse, then I would try to get her to go to a women's shelter and with the aid of a counselor/social worker, allow her to feel empowered by calling the police herself, and make the deicion that she's ready to get out of that situation and stay out.
  8. Oct 5, 2005 #7


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    Stop screwing up my polls moonbear!!! :devil: :devil:
  9. Oct 6, 2005 #8


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    I would only call the police if I thought they were in the middle of a fight. At other times, a call to the police is useless (unless the police are the only ones who deal with domestic abuse), and the abuser could think that the call came from one of the people they were abusing.

    I would first try to talk to the wife. If she denied that anything was wrong, I would talk to the children. Children are more likely to tell the truth and aren't as good at hiding the fact that they are afraid to tell anyone the truth. I really don't care if this gets the parents mad at me. If there is abuse going on, I would be ashamed to let it continue. I'm not a parent, but imagining that I was, I wouldn't be angry that someone was looking out for my children's welfare. My mother was abused by her husband for years. He eventually slit her throat and killed her new husband. After that, my mother abused us for years. Of the countless number of people I tried to get help from, only a handful were caring and courageous enough to try to help us. There is risk and reward in getting involved. They became my mom's enemies and my heros.

    If you can confirm that abuse is going on, you have to be persistent and smart enough to not make the situation worse. Here in Florida, the department that is supposed to protect children and adults from abuse didn't help us, even though several people made complaints. On several occassions, the worker assigned to our case was one of my mom's friends and didn't even talk to us kids except in my mom's presence. Surprisingly, she reported that no abuse was occurring. :rolleyes: And their rules allowed parents to beat their kids anyway - they just couldn't break any bones or leave bruises that lasted for more than (I've forgetten now) 2-4 days. You pretty much had to put your kids in the hospital before the government would do anything - and even then, you still had to prove that it was abuse and not an accident. Of course, after my mom learned this, she just found new ways to abuse us that didn't leave obvious scars. And forget trying to prove emotional or psychological abuse.
    The government was basically more concerned with protecting the rights of the possibly innocent parents than the rights of the possibly suffering children. Granted, it's a complicated situation, and the system can be abused, but I don't understand how it's acceptable to not intervene, at least temporarily, especially since (I think) the biggest concern is not punishing past abuse but preventing future abuse. I wonder if this has changed.

    If adults are being abused and won't leave, you just have to try to convince them. If children are being abused, you can try to find ways to keep them away from their abuser(s) as much as possible while you try to get the government to take action. Knowing that someone is trying to help them can give them some hope and makes the abuse easier to suffer. And adults have to get involved because kids can't save themselves from their abusers when their abusers also happen to be their legal guardians. Eh, sorry, what was the question? Sure, if I suspected abuse, I would do everything I could to discover the truth, and if my suspicions were confirmed, to end it. I would call the department that dealt with domestic abuse if talking to the adults or children didn't allay my suspicions. I couldn't sleep at night otherwise.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2005
  10. Oct 6, 2005 #9
    That's absolutely horrific. I can't believe what I just read. Where do you fit into that? I mean, were you born before/after either of the two husbands? You seem one of PF's most well-adjusted, so respect to you for coming out of that situation the nice person you are.

    I think your advice is sound and obviously comes from the heart, and from first-hand experience. Ultimately, the mother is an adult and is capable, if unwilling, of dealing with the situation. It may be she is too afraid to leave, but could be given the confidence. It may be she gives as good as she gets. On the other hand, she might not want to leave despite the violence for screwed up reasons. In any case, it's the kids you have to think of, since they have no say if no-one tries to help them.
  11. Oct 6, 2005 #10


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    Heh, thanks. I initially didn't handle it well at all, did a lot of stupid and dangerous things, 'you're throwing your life away' kind of stuff. If it weren't for those people who tried to help me, who knows where I'd be now, which is why it's so important that other people get involved - you really can end up saving someone's life.
    I was 9 when the murder happened (no need to feel sorry for me; I've gotten through it.). I forgot to mention it, but one reason I brought that up is that, AFAIK (and my mom has talked about it a lot, and I imagine she would have told me, especially since she hates him now and misses no opportunity to bash him), my dad never physically abused her. He 'only' verbally abused her. So if anyone thinks that verbal abuse is less serious, well, just look at what happened in this case. I think it's also typical for verbal abuse to 'escalate' into physical abuse. But personally, I found the verbal abuse to be worse than the physical, though I guess it depends on what specifically is said and how bad the physical abuse is.
    I also mentioned it because it's yet another example of victim becoming victimiser. Before she started abusing us, she was abused by my dad. My dad was also abused by his dad. And his dad was abused by his dad. So who knows how many more people you're saving if you can break the cycle. I'm trying to break the cycle - and help my siblings to break it too.

    So, yeah, I think people should do their best to help. But you have to be very careful not to make the situation worse. I guess in some cases, it's kind of like breaking out of prison. A few weeks ago, my mom was talking to someone she met online who was being abused by her husband. My mom was trying to help the woman with her plans to leave him (where she could go for help, what she should do beforehand, what to take with her, etc.). The woman was having to email her secretly on a different account and only at certain times because her husband kept track of everything she did online. The tension and worrying was horrible, hoping that her husband didn't catch her. I don't know what the best thing to do is in that situation. I wouldn't risk making any preparations - just get myself, and my kids if I had any, to a safe place and deal with the rest from there.
    Of course, an adult can just walk away - a kid can't. Every time I ran away and was caught, the police just brought me right back home, despite my pleas. :rolleyes: :grumpy: (And I got caught if I went to school, so guess where I didn't go. The system is so screwed up.) Or if you're lucky, you can go to a shelter for a while before you have to go back home. And other adults risk getting themselves in trouble if they get in between the children and their legal guardians. So it's more difficult with children. But there are still things that you can do - and I think it's worth trying.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2005
  12. Oct 6, 2005 #11
    God, this kind of stuff brings out the misanthrope in me. I don't understand why in this day and age these kinds of people still exist. I used to work in a s--thole nowhere town called Telford and it's like time stopped there. Men there just sound like the man you describe - keeping track of everything their wives/girlfriends did and acting like they have authority over them, while simultaneously being cheating, abusive scumbags themselves. It does my head in that there are still so many men out there that can behave this way and live with themselves, and still so many women out there who stay with them. I wish there was some way of drilling into kids early enough that "okay, your parents may behave this way, but you don't have to propagate/put up with it". Would it make a difference?

    I'm sorry to hear what you've told us, insofar as that it is awful that any child has to suffer that. But you're clearly a very strong person, and don't need/want people feeling sorry for you. And, hey, you may have done all those throwing-your-life-away things anyway. I was as far from level-headed as you can get, and my childhood was comparably blissful. But look at me now! Actually no, look away!
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2005
  13. Oct 6, 2005 #12


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    For starters, my mom says that my dad threatened to kill her if she ever left him. I don't blame her for believing him. She divorced him in January, and he tried to kill her in December. He also told her various things to the effect that she couldn't make it without him, no other man would want her with 4 kids, she had little work experience so couldn't support herself and kids, etc. She also is a christian and was taught that divorce is a sin. These aren't uncommon at all - here are some lists:

    What's hardest for me to understand is that someone can act as though they hate the people they're abusing yet try to stop that person from leaving. And it happens not only with adults but children too. I know a girl who, when she was about 11, had a conversation with her mother that went something like this:

    Girl: If you hate me so much, why don't you just get rid of me? I can find someone else to adopt me.
    Mom: Oh yeah - just try it then. The only person that would take you is some 40-year-old pervert who would keep you locked up in his house and make you cook and clean for him all day and beat you and (in so many words, sexually abuse) you all night.

    Even if she didn't completely believe it, I imagine that's a pretty scary thing for a young girl to hear. (Oy, I don't want to lie, the girl was me, but that's not important.) The point is that getting out of the situation is often made to seem like it's not an option. It took a lot of courage for my mom to leave my dad; It took a lot of courage for other victims to become 'survivors'. Looking at it as becoming a 'survivor' seems to help a lot of people. I hope that if anyone is in an abusive relationship, they also find the courage to become survivors.
    But honestly, even after they leave, they may still not be free. My mom now goes to bed each night knowing that my dad could escape or be released from prison, find her, and 'finish the job', as he put it. Can you imagine what that must do to a person? But she deals with it and tries to help others in similar circumstances, and I'm really proud of her for that. And if she hadn't left, he may have killed her eventually anyway.
    There are happier endings out there. We were able to work through things with my mom, and our situation did have a pretty happy ending.
    And it's usually not a popular thing to admit, but the abusers also need help themselves.
    Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. They may have discussed it briefly during the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program that we had in elementary school - or sexual abuse during Sex Ed. I think it's something worth addressing.

    Eh, sorry, didn't mean to derail the discussion.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2005
  14. Oct 6, 2005 #13
    This behavior is exactly what chimpanzees do - since they're male-bonded, the males are all kin and the females come in from other groups. The males usu choose females they want to mate with and if they catch her fooling around with other males (their kin) they beat her (and possibly the other male) and may even chase the female around harassing her for no other reason than to break her. This isn't an exaggeration, they actually do this to ensure that the females only have sex with them. It's part of our evolved behavior as well. Usually, tho, it's good to cooperate and this behavior is less common when you actually have people to enforce the social stigma that it is. In small villages it can work, but in larger societies where people are so isolated, there are ways of hiding what you do. I guess female-bonded groups would be better for this - as is done by bonobos wherein the females band together and take control (tho the males are the ones that are related). They chase males off at food sites and will intervene on other females' behalf. Sounds a bit like what you, Rosewater, are saying, only we have to make an effort to overcome this isolated structuring of our society rather than trying to work around it.

    Bonobos vs Chimpanzee lifestyles
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2005
  15. Oct 7, 2005 #14
    HRW, you have broken my heart. I don't know what to say. That's just horrible. I wish things like this didn't happen. I can never understand how someone can make conscious decision to do something so cruel or unfair. You spoke of people who helped you through it. Who were they and how did they help?
  16. Oct 7, 2005 #15
    It is beyond my comprehension why some men can do the things that you described. It is their wives for gosh sakes, whom they are supposed to love and cherish the most, to draw strength and support. Perhaps alcoholism or some other addiction-out-of-control causes these men to lose their self control and take things out on those who they should love the most. :frown:
  17. Oct 8, 2005 #16


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    Do you see 'isolation' as a result of privacy, parents', and individuals' rights - or are you thinking of something else?
    Sorry, I didn't mean to make you sad. I'd just like to help keep these things from happening. It's hard for me to generalize - I don't know enough about other cases. So I'll just say that in my mom's case, she was overwhelmed by her own problems. I'm not giving that as an excuse - it's just the truth. She was in a difficult situation and wasn't able to deal with it in a less harmful way.
    Three were my friends' moms. They let me live with them for a while and took care of me in several ways. One of them, Linda, helped me get back into (middle) school. She was a single parent with two of her own children and worked very hard to help me. She treated me like her own child and put up with a lot of problems with my mom. She got permission from my mom to let me live with her, which was quite a feat in itself. But it was only an agreement between them (my mom wouldn't give up legal custody), and my mom still managed to cause problems. One that needs to change: She'd get drunk and call the police, claiming that I ran away, so the police would show up in the middle of the night, get me out of bed at Linda's, and take me 'home' to my mom, who was obviously in a drunken rage and just wanted me home to take out all of her anger on me as soon as they left. WTF?! You'd think they'd catch on by the umpteenth time. Anyway, Linda would still come pick me up and drive me to school (I usually took the bus from her house) the next day, even though it made her miss work. And so on. Linda was a really great person. Her kindness meant the world to me.

    The other woman (funny, they were all women) was a social worker who took a special interest in me. She arranged for me to enter a transitional living program (like a long-term runaway shelter/orphanage). But my little brother and sister weren't old enough to enter the program, and she couldn't find any other way to get them away from my mom. By that time, I had grown up a lot and was concerned about what would happen to my little brother and sister if I wasn't there to help take care of them and distract my mom. My grandfather died as we were making the plans, which made the siutation worse, and I decided that I couldn't leave them behind, so I ended up not entering the program. But I think my mom seeing that I almost legally left might have scared her straight a bit.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2005
  18. Oct 8, 2005 #17
    I see our modes of subsistence and economic/trade practices as organizing us into into isolated, productive units. We didn't have such an emphasis on privacy a during colonial times due to modes of subsistence and economic production; from Linda Stone's A History of Euro-American Kinship and Gender:

    The households themselves did not contain separate, private spaces for married couples or for parents and their children. As Coontz (1988:85) writes: "The central room or hall was where work, meals, play, religious instruction, and often sleep took place...Even genteel families put several people to a room and several people to a bed. Most household members sat together on benches for meals and prayers, rather than in separate chairs. There was thus little concept of a private family set apart from the world of work, servants, and neighbors." Households were closely linked to one another, and highly interdependent on one another for cooperation and economic exchanges. People freely intruded into one another's households, and the affairs of all were carefully monitored and regulated by village and church officials. What we would consider very private business today was then considered the business of neighbors and the whole community....The contrast to the private, bounded nuclear family of later American life is obvious. The family of colonial times was not separated out, nor was "the home" seen as a retreat from the strain of the outside world. Indeed, since the colonial household was a center of economic production, there was little division between the public and domestic spheres of life.

    Nowadays, work is separated from home. We are "encouraged" to focus on working rather than the affairs of neighbors because it does not increase the profit and subsequently power gained in our culture. To go further, I also think that this is an unnatural state for primates to be in, and that is another thing that may account for domestic violence, aggression, and frustration. You can hear about primatology here.

    really is a slap in the face to realize that we are so controlled.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2005
  19. Oct 10, 2005 #18
    The problem I was talking about seems more cultural. Like I said, it's as if time stopped. The idea that a girl/woman is an independant person and not property has not fully caught on there. This can't even be blamed wholly on the men either: men who do not have this backward philosophy are apparently disadvantaged as far as natural selection is concerned. This kind of behaviour is not only tolerated, but it seems to be encouraged from a young age. Not universally, true, but substantially, and within large areas. There are places in this so-called Great Britain I would not want my children raised. Telford is one of them. But there are a number of socially isolated places like this in the UK. It's a weird phenomenon and I have no idea how it comes about. In the case of Telford, it may have something to with the fact that it is a new town formed by many existing, small villages. The small-mindedness and isolationism of these people is certainly more reminiscent of the villager stereotype, and the kind of people I'm talking about do seem to maintain an identity associated with the village they live in, with autochthnonous gangs crossing the borders to do regular battle.

    The upside is that these stupid people would never consider leaving their village. \o/
  20. Oct 10, 2005 #19
    I'm glad you found these people - on top of everything else it slightly restores my faith in human beings. As, for that matter, does your decision to stay with your brother and sister. That must've been a hard decision to make, and accords well with my impression of your strength. You are a good person indeed. Where are your siblings now - have they since flown the nest?
  21. Oct 10, 2005 #20
    Interesting. I never would have thought of it as possibly stemming from cultural circumstances, but then again, those who are abused tend to be the abusers later in life. From my point of view this sort of behavior always seemed to be limited to certain individuals, not entire groups.

    That doesn't seem all too uncommon in many rural areas throughout the world, with the exception of close-knit tribal bands that seem to be far more stable as far as relationships go (Samoans, Trobriands, Hmong, etc).

    Also, I would have thought more of an incidence of domestic violence would have occured in densely populated urban areas. :confused:
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