Thursday, April 24, 2008

Questions That Need 2 Be Asked

I was tired and sweaty; my face was bright red. Having worked a very busy service I was just ready to get home and shower. As I approached the T station I saw a couple who appeared to be arguing. As I passed them I heard the girl say, "If you continue this there's going to be a scene."


Now, this made me stop in my tracks, literally. I turned around and looked at them, sort of hovering in the shadows-I was actually trying to get her attention by staring at her. His back was to me, so I thought maybe she could give me a sign if she knew I was watching. Well, she wouldn't look over. Just as I was beginning to give up and walk away, he put his hand on her back and sort of shoved her forward. It was clear she didn't want to go where he was trying to make her go.


Mind you, this was on a busy sidewalk in a pretty nice section of town. There were people all around and there was even a police officer on the corner. But the manner in which he was speaking to her just really struck a chord with me and I felt like I needed to stand by in case she needed help.


When I saw him try to shove her along, I decided to swallow whatever social barriers I thought I should obey and walk up to them. As I approached the girl looked at me and the man turned around. I looked only at her and asking if she was OK.


She was obviously taken aback. He said, "She's fine. We're having a private conversation here." I said, "That's great. Are you going to be OK?" again to the girl. She said yes again so there was nothing more I could do. I told her that there was a police officer on the corner if she needed him, to which the man said, "They're everywhere-GOD!"


I've always been they type of person who tries to help people, even if I don't know them. But this was a little bit weird for me-in public to approach a fighting couple to make sure that the woman was OK. I guess that what really made me stop was remembering how disappointed I was in people when they didn't ask my why my forehead was cut and why the white of my eye was completely red or why I couldn't really use my left arm (even though I'm left handed) for about a week.


I remember back to when my family asked me if I was OK and I wasn't, but I couldn't tell them. I was ashamed of what was happening and for some odd reason, afraid that they would think poorly of me for "letting" it happen. What finally got me out of the abusive situation was when my gynecologist asked me a routine question-"Do you feel safe at home?"


I hesitated and my voice started to shake as it does when I am about to cry. And I answered, "No". It was the first time I admitted to another person that I was not OK, and that I was afraid. And it was easier to tell a stranger because if they passed any judgement, I wouldn't have to live with seeing their faces all of the time.


So, I thought maybe it was the same for this girl. I felt kind of silly after I walked away, but not silly enough to regret asking the question. It's quite possible that this was a simple argument between a boyfriend and girlfriend-but if it wasn't, and she needed someones hand to pull her away, I was going to make damn sure she had one to hold.


I never really minded being a silly girl anyway...

18 comments:

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

if he was pushing her, she was probably NOT okay. and his response tells volumes. you did the right thing, maybe it will wake her up... gosh this is awful that people have to live in fear.

hugs, bee
xoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxo

Anonymous said...

I think you did the right thing. And I am glad you were able to get out of your abusive relationship. Not enough people take the time to ask if they can help.

For example I was in a car accident and had two black eyes, cut on my nose so I was pretty colorful for a while. I went to the grocery store and I heard several women say under their breaths that they hope I left the bastard, but not one asked me if I was ok and offered to help. It was kind of sad, and I was grateful that I it was just a car accident that gave me my bruises because if it was a guy there wasn't any support being offered by those strangers.

Rocketstar said...

Good for you, nice work.

Kat said...

I'm glad you had the guts to walk up to the girl to make sure she was ok - even if she wasn't.

If there were more courageous people like you, people that would ask questions, the world would really be a better place for a lot of abused partners.

Brian in Mpls said...

You are a great person

Anonymous said...

I wish someone had asked me that question. It might not have made a difference in the moment, but it might have opened my eyes sooner. I was in an abusive relationship for about 10 years...I even married the guy after he had been in prison for raping another woman. I wish I had been stronger and I wish more people were aware of domestic violence and what a huge issue it is for society.

Ivanhoe said...

You go girl! I'm glad you're out of THAT relationship!

Bond said...

I would have asked also....

Anonymous said...

You are more courageous than I am. Especially in the Northeast, and Boston in particular, people tend to mind their own business and keep moving. Good for you for stepping beyond the NE aloofness and reaching out to someone in need. We don't seen it often enough here.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Wanted to share the best advice I ever got from a Domestic Violence counselor. When faced with this situation, she recommended going up to the girl like "Hi?! How are you? How's your mom" while gently pulling her closer to you and away from him so you can ask if she's alright. It's hard to describe while not able to demonstrate, but imagine she's a friend you haven't seen in a while...that kind of interaction. Not only does it break the tension of the moment and gives the girl some space, it also reinforces to the guy, that people are watching.

I actually used it once. The girl turned on her heel and walked away from both of us (me the stranger and him the abuser), which I thought was a good thing!

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

It wasn't silly at all. You reacted in a way that you felt was right (and you were probably right). Perhaps just you going up to them prevented something from happening-or perhaps it gave the girl a bit of a wake up call later on.

crazy working mom said...

You are brave. I can't say I would've done the same thing. I think that you did the brave and noble thing, to which most of us ignore just to not "get involved" in certain situations. Maybe like the others said, it might open up her eyes that there are people out there who care and maybe if she needs help she will get it. :)

I am glad that you finally did!!

Julie said...

Good for you Mags! We need more people like you around! I've done similar things also and have never got a plea for help either. But maybe it does make them think. At least the guy knows that he isn't invisible!

Melisa said...

My goodness: that was a powerful post!
And good for you, Mags! You are amazing. xoxo

Travis said...

You stepped up because you know what it's like. That's courageous, not silly.

Hugs.

FRIGGA said...

Major kudos to you! Maybe you misjudged the situation, and they were taken aback but all lives will go on.

Maybe he was abusing her and you showed her that it's not all in her head and that she doesn't have to accept it. You showed her there are people out there who care and are willing to do the right thing. So she didn't take advantage of it at the time, but it provided her more confidence for when she does finally take a stand.

Or she's not really being abused and everyone writes it off as "weird." Either way, major kudos to you for doing the right thing in an uncomfortable situation!

Desert Songbird said...

You're not silly, and I think your experiences make you more attuned to the situation (or possibilities) in others.

Never apologize for your compassion.

Marilyn said...

You did good.

We have this rental next door and there are always folks moving in and out of it that mostly are not the top of the local social ladder. One set of neightbors was busted for drugs after we repeatedly called the local law enforcement because they were obviously dealing.

Anyway, at one point we heard screaming and it sounded like the guy was beating the woman. We called the police. Of course the woman said nothing was happening and gave us mean looks every time she saw us till she moved out. Still, I would do it again.

The current set of neighbors never even seems to be around enough for me to bake them cookies, which I try to do whenever new people move in. I guess they're quiet, at least.