There is a YouTube video of a so-called “Swedish Social Experiment” that is making waves on the internet with over nine-million views and counting. The “experiment” involves staging domestic violence incidents, and secretly filming the reaction of witnesses. The “experiment” either illustrated how apathetic society is toward domestic violence, or how fearful and reluctant the public can be to intervene on behalf of a victim of crime.
I posted the article and the video to our Facebook pages, and we received some very interesting replies. Almost everyone who commented claimed they would intervene in some manner if they witnessed a domestic violence incident. The comments ranged from those who claimed they would violently intervene against the abuser, to more cautious approaches like contacting the police. Yet, in the “Swedish Experiment,” only one out of fifty-three persons intervened. The article is silent as to how many of those people may have attempted to contact the authorities, if any.
So, should you intervene if you witness domestic violence? Here is what you need to know about intervening in a domestic violence incident:
· According to studies, 19% of domestic violence involves the use of a weapon, and in intimate partner homicides 20% of victims were not the intimate partners themselves, but family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement, or bystanders.
· From 2010 to 2014, U.S. Law Enforcement line of duty deaths was studied, and a Domestic Dispute call was more lethal than theft, man with gun, shots fired, burglary, robbery, and officer needs assistance by far.
· Many domestic violence abusers are not only violent, but can be very dangerous persons with violent criminal histories, mental illness, substance and/or alcohol abuse problems, or possess special training like former and current law enforcement, or military.
The risks are clear. Direct intervention in a domestic violence incident can be dangerous, and should rarely ever be undertaken alone, or by non-professionals. In addition to the obvious dangers, there are some not so apparent considerations when dealing with domestic violence – the incident you witness can continue long after you have intervened, and your overt intervention may actually put the victim in greater danger after you are gone. A typical abuser is not returning home later to accept accountability for the incident – they will blame and possibly take revenge upon their victim. For the average citizen, unless the victim’s life is in imminent danger, I recommend you immediately contact the authorities if you witness a domestic violence incident.
©2017 Steven J. Dana, All Rights Reserved