Verbal abuse or domestic violence in public - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 12:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Have you seen it? What did you do?

Weeks ago my exH verbally abused me very loudly, very publicly, at our son's 4K graduation. EVERYONE witnessed it and no one said or did anything. After the ceremony, I approached a woman and asked to speak to her in the office. I wanted her name and number as a witness, but as soon as we stepped into the office, I just cried and cried (I don't know where that came from, it was very sudden when I tried to speak). We did manage to exchange numbers. After I finally stopped crying I went out to get my child and go. I'm sure my face was all red and puffy, and people stared at me. But no one said anything, but I guess I was avoiding eye contact.

I filed a police report, but there was nothing they could do, because verbal abuse is only borderline illegal. They just told him he's not allowed to drive down my street anymore.

One of my child's 4K classmates lives just a few houses down our street and I had begun trying to forge a friendship with her parents. Some days after the graduation, all the kids were riding their bikes and the parents were working in their front yard, so I went over to talk to them. I wanted to ask if they saw what happened (I know they did) and tell them that if they see my ex on our street or anything suspicious going on to call the police. I said hi, they both said hi and averted their eyes and didn't really say anything else. I was trying to figure out what to say, but I have terrible trouble with speech (ASD). I ended up just wandering back home feeling like crap.

I wonder if they think I deserved getting yelled at. I wonder if they hold me equally responsible for making a big ugly scene in front of all their kids, even though I didn't say anything back to exH. In fact I walked away and he followed me yelling at me more.

Great, my exH is still able to socially isolate me.

PUBLIC NOTICE: Please, for the love of God, if you witness verbal abuse or domestic violence, say something! People need help, even just someone to talk to. Just ask, "Are you OK?" THREE WORDS, PEOPLE!

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#2 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 01:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wanted to add that the social isolation of partner (or ex-partner) abuse is the WORST part. Social isolation means no support for healing, and deeper dependence on the abuser.

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#3 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 01:13 AM
 
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I used to work at a DV shelter and have heard other stories like yours I honestly do not think that anyone thinks it is your fault. It is simply not your fault! I think that perhaps they feel like helping you would only cause you to get in to more trouble with your abuser.

For example, when I was taking the shelter calls, even if I had a women's phone number, I was never, ever to call her back if she had to suddenly hang up. Even though I really wanted to call 911, even if every fiber of my being knew that she was in trouble, we were always trained that that could escalate the situation and cause her abuser to be even worse to her

Also, they might feel bad for you to be treated in such a way. I in no way think they are accusing you. I think if anything, if you could form a friendship and perhaps open up- which is really hard to do- you might have powerful allys there!


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#4 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 01:15 AM
 
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Another thing- they probably do not know what to say to you. That was hard too. When a client came to live in the shelter, it was hard for me to gauage when they wanted to talk, or if they even did want to talk. They might be giving you your space to wait for you to make that first move

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#5 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 01:15 AM
 
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i couldn't read this without a
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#6 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 01:22 AM
 
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I'm so sorry that happened to you.

And thank you for the advice on what to do if I ever witness such a scene.
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#7 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 01:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Bunnyflakes View Post
When a client came to live in the shelter, it was hard for me to gauage when they wanted to talk, or if they even did want to talk.
I think if they are standing in front of you and making eye contact, they probably want to talk.

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#8 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 01:33 AM
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I am so sorry this happened to you.
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#9 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 01:38 AM
 
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That was my life for many years, being verbally assaulted in public by my ex with all our kids present. He once followed me through Balboa Park during a festival screaming at me and calling me names while i ran from him with all of our kids in tow. No one did a thing to help. Once i was driving away with the kids and he threw himself on the car while i drove through our neighborhood and no one did a thing. Just stared. He showed up at my house a year ago and was yelling and screaming in front of the kids on a playground and threatening me and no one called the cops except for the neighbor that i told to call the cops. I couldn't get him arrested for that even with over a dozen people present. People just don't want to get involved but really i should have left him so much sooner. Although last year he stalked me and found where i lived. I wish people would've helped me.
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#10 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 01:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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s Avani s

It is so vital for a victim to have support!

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#11 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 04:36 AM
 
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people don't know what to say, are scared to get involved and escalate the situation maybe not just for you but fear for themselves as well? anyways, thank you for the reminder. i'm so sorry that no one was helping you.

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#12 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 04:43 AM
 
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Many people are very afraid to get involved because the violence could then be directed at them. You never know when someone has a gun or a knife or just their fists and attack you for "not minding your own business" I know I would want to help by stepping in but I would to to afraid to do so

ETA: there are cases to where not only would the abuser turn on you but the one being abused might do so as well. One of those cases where you are in between a rock and a hard place.

 
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#13 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 04:44 AM
 
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I once witnessed a man slap his partner/wife/gf whoever it was at the store where I worked. She didn't like the tile he chose and he just in a blink of an eye leaned over and WHAM. I'm not talking playful.

I started to approach him. She saw me coming and shook her head at me w/o him seeing.

I still feel bad to this day, wondering what would have happened if I hadn't dropped the issue and turned back. I doubt it was caught on tape. The only thing I do feel good about is that he ran his mouth so badly later on that another manager asked him to leave the store.

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#14 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 10:40 AM
 
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OP, I'm so sorry. I'm sending good thoughts your way.

I totally agree that people should do something. I so wonder what our neighbors growing up used to think about what they'd hear and see at our house.

***The following is perhaps triggering...***

I did call 911 on a man once. I was way atop a hillside back when I worked outdoors, and I saw this car driving crazy. I saw the woman get out and yell and the man stop and get out and start pulling her and screaming and that was when I called 911. It did get a bit worse. The cops came, but unfortunately, the woman ended up getting back in the car with the man. I wonder about her sometimes.

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#15 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 11:23 AM
 
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Thank you for posting this. I am not sure if I would have been one of the ones who averted her eyes or not. In the past definitely- I'm socially awkward. I have been getting better about stepping in. I know that after reading this I would definitely make sure the victim was okay.

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#16 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 01:57 PM
 
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OP: I'm sorry that happened to you. I have to say that I have a tendency to leave people alone if they've been humiliated/verbally abused/etc. in public. The reason is because that's what I want, and I tend to project that on other people. The last thing I would want in your situation is to have people comment on it, even indirectly (eg. "are you okay?"). As I get older, I try to remember that not everyone reacts the same way, though.

People have lots of reasons for getting involved. A male family friend once stepped in when a guy was hitting his girlfriend - got between them and tried to keep the guy off. (This was long before cellphones, so calling 911 or the police wasn't a viable option.) Things were getting verbally heated, and the girlfriend suddenly screamed at him to butt out, and nailed him in the head with her high heel. He ended up bleeding from the scalp, and the couple left together. He never got involved in a public fight between a couple again...and I can't really blame him, yk?


Oh - and I really, really doubt that anybody who saw that thinks you deserved to be treated like that. They may think you're still with him (do they know you well?) and are concerned about making things worse for you at home.

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#17 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 03:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by QueenOfThePride View Post
Have you seen it? What did you do?

Weeks ago my exH verbally abused me very loudly, very publicly, at our son's 4K graduation. EVERYONE witnessed it and no one said or did anything. After the ceremony, I approached a woman and asked to speak to her in the office. I wanted her name and number as a witness, but as soon as we stepped into the office, I just cried and cried (I don't know where that came from, it was very sudden when I tried to speak). We did manage to exchange numbers. After I finally stopped crying I went out to get my child and go. I'm sure my face was all red and puffy, and people stared at me. But no one said anything, but I guess I was avoiding eye contact.

I filed a police report, but there was nothing they could do, because verbal abuse is only borderline illegal. They just told him he's not allowed to drive down my street anymore.

One of my child's 4K classmates lives just a few houses down our street and I had begun trying to forge a friendship with her parents. Some days after the graduation, all the kids were riding their bikes and the parents were working in their front yard, so I went over to talk to them. I wanted to ask if they saw what happened (I know they did) and tell them that if they see my ex on our street or anything suspicious going on to call the police. I said hi, they both said hi and averted their eyes and didn't really say anything else. I was trying to figure out what to say, but I have terrible trouble with speech (ASD). I ended up just wandering back home feeling like crap.

I wonder if they think I deserved getting yelled at. I wonder if they hold me equally responsible for making a big ugly scene in front of all their kids, even though I didn't say anything back to exH. In fact I walked away and he followed me yelling at me more.

Great, my exH is still able to socially isolate me.

PUBLIC NOTICE: Please, for the love of God, if you witness verbal abuse or domestic violence, say something! People need help, even just someone to talk to. Just ask, "Are you OK?" THREE WORDS, PEOPLE!
I would/do say something. In fact, I do and have done more. I will not list my actions but I have put myself at risk to intervene over the years. Most importantly, I have formed friendships with women that I would not normally because I feel for them and want to befriend them. I see their family, neighbors and friends isolating them. I know what you are talking about and I am sorry you had to experience that.

Are you ok, btw? Can you seek counseling to help you interact with him? Have you ever read the book, Bold Love, by Dr. Dan Allender?
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#18 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 03:17 PM
 
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QotP,

Another thing. Sometimes violence, either physical or verbal, can trigger people's own stories and issues. They might be triggered and struggling with memories. They might feel and freeze up in fear and their instincts tell them to stay away. They might be mean and distant people. They might be victims themselves and unable to process the intensity so quickly. Or they might be very caring people who just do not know what to say.



Still I am sorry you had to suffer that! Your ex seems bent on making you pay for something that, I suspect, has NOTHING to do with you. I hope he gets counseling and begins to go in new and loving directions with your children and you.
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#19 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 03:24 PM
 
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i wouldn't take people's responses as not caring or thinking it's your fault. i honestly think most people just don't know what to do in that situation.

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#20 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 04:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MCatLvrMom2A&X View Post


Many people are very afraid to get involved because the violence could then be directed at them. You never know when someone has a gun or a knife or just their fists and attack you for "not minding your own business" I know I would want to help by stepping in but I would to to afraid to do so

ETA: there are cases to where not only would the abuser turn on you but the one being abused might do so as well. One of those cases where you are in between a rock and a hard place.
I agree with this. I am physically untrained and completely unable to defend myself. If I was witness to someone being verbally abused or physically abused in my presence I would call the police if I had access to a phone, but for my own safety and the safety of my daughter I could not engage an angry, violent person verbally or physically, especially if the person being abused was not vocally yelling or asking for help.

Now, if someone was screaming, "Someone help me!" I would put my physical weakness aside and try to do something, or at least try to rally a group of stronger folks to rush in with me to help. But the sad fact is that someone being abused might not actually want help, or might get punished for the interference that I would make and it would make their situation worse for them at home. So unless they can actually ask for help I don't feel like it is a good idea for me to take personal physical risk or to rick them getting hurt further.

As for people not making eye contact later...they probably don't know what to do. They most likely don't want to bring it up unless YOU do first, as a lot of people take offense to others getting in their business. I would be willing to bet than many of them are worried about offending you or causing you to be even more embarrassed. It might seem to you like you are screaming for help from the inside, but they are not hearing that.

((((HUGS)))) I am so sorry you are going through this, and I hope you can get the help that you need SOON.
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#21 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 04:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Are you ok, btw? Can you seek counseling to help you interact with him? Have you ever read the book, Bold Love, by Dr. Dan Allender?
I am OK right now. I've tried to set up mediation with a family counselor several months ago. I feel that it would be better for the children if we could come to some agreement on major parenting philosophies. My idea was for us to see a counselor separately, and for them to mediate, because it is impossible for me to talk to him. He completely refuses to see logic and uses any discussion to verbally abuse and attack me. I ran it by him and he agreed to it, so I got it all set up and went. Then when it was his turn, he refused to go.

I got the police report back to see what happened when they talked to him. He said that we were just having an argument (since when is it an argument if I don't even say anything back?) and that I'm just too sensitive, that I have mental health problems, that I am paranoid, and that I'm seeing a psychiatrist. :::

I currently have zero contact with him. In two weeks, unfortunately, our child has a doctor appointment at a Children's Hospital and I've been freaking out about it, because I will have to see him face-to-face. I called a bunch of women's shelters asking if they know of any bodyguard services. None did, but someone said to call the security department at the hospital. I hadn't thought of that, so I called them, and security will be nearby and alert during our appointment. They said they deal with this kind of thing all the time. I'm also trying to get a friend or two to go with me.

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#22 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 07:34 PM
 
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good luck at the appt. i hope and pray that everything will go well.

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#23 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 07:41 PM
 
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For your neighbors, would it help if you wrote out what you wanted to say and practiced a bit ahead of time so that you didn't have a hard time getting it out when you went over to talk?

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#24 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 07:51 PM
 
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Many people don't know what to say.

Also getting envolved can get you harmed. My step-mom's uncle was killed this way.

If it was me I would step back and call 911 or talk to you later.
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#25 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Many people don't know what to say.

Also getting envolved can get you harmed. My step-mom's uncle was killed this way.

If it was me I would step back and call 911 or talk to you later.
Yeah, see it was later I tried to talk to my neighbors. And I think by the time I came out of the office, my exH had already left.

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#26 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 09:15 PM
 
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Dh and I were leaving a store when I heard a man yelling angrily. I looked around to see where it was coming from and there was a man and a woman in a car and he was screaming a her and slapping her with her kids in the car. I started walking towards them to say something, but dh would not let me. He was scared as many people here have already stated that the man would turn on me or it could possibly make the situatioin worse for the kids and the woman in the car with him. As I think back on it I really wish that I had done something though and I feel guilty for letting dh talk me out of it.
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#27 of 39 Old 07-15-2009, 10:08 PM
 
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I have been attacked by the victim for intervening before. It can be an instinctive response on the part of the person being battered.

It's also common enough (at least a verbal lashing) as well as the all too common scenario of an abused partner returning to his/her abuser almost immediately, I do think that rolls around in the back of people's minds.

I am not sorry that I've intervened nor does the knowledge that I may be attacked on both sides stop me (unless I'm with my kids, I assume, though I've never been with my kids and witnessed a public altercation). But not everyone has that same tolerance. IME, unless the person has truly gone over the edge, most abusers will not attack someone other than the people they habitually abuse.

It IS a risk you take though, you never know who might have weapon and who might be intent on homicide (in which case, if they're already committed and you get in the way, expect to be injured if not killed as well). I am far more comfortable personally and directly intervening in a verbal, public conflict than I would be trying to pull away or block a punching person. But anyone can call 911.

I do have sympathy for people wanting to not make waves for the victim, but when abusers decide to escalate public violence frankly that means EVERYONE is endangered and it becomes everyone's problem. Remember the guy who shot up the UU church in TN? The guy who walked into a nursing home and started shooting? Both those incidents involved an escalation of domestic violence. If someone is losing control in public, they are dangerous to EVERYONE around them, and if they decide in that moment to go over the line and get physically violent they may very well be in for a penny in for a pound.

So when I have talked to people about why they shouldn't look the other way, I do bring it to their attention that if it is bad enough that you start to have a fear reaction and adrenaline pumping then you should probably allow your brain and instinct to connect. You DO have a self-interest in reporting it at the very least because the screamer/beater is a very real danger to you and everyone around you, not just the person who is the main target.
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#28 of 39 Old 07-16-2009, 12:45 AM
 
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I've personally never witnessed any abuse in public before. I've heard couples argue, but not loudly and not getting out of hand. If I ever do witness something I would ask the woman/man if they are ok when/if the abuser walks away. If it was getting bad then I'd call the cops. That behavior to me should be illegal, no one should be abused by another person either phyiscally or verbally, and if there are kids present then it needs to stop.
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#29 of 39 Old 07-16-2009, 04:56 AM
 
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My first thought is that people don't get involved in what they think is a domestic dispute. It's kind of odd, like they think it's something private and they just have to pretend that white elephant is in the room. Or else they are afraid for their own safety. Plus there is the blaming the victim thing going on.

I went to a function at my daughter's school--as I was coming around the corner, I heard loud voices, so of course, I went over to where it was coming from. A couple was yelling angrily at each other. I wasn't even sure what to do, I took my cell phone out thinking to call the police. I was afraid they would both yell at me at that point, and then I'd end up yelling back, so I kept walking into the front of the school and went into the office, but school personnel were coming out at that point and one of the people left. I felt bad, but I wasn't sure what to do.
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#30 of 39 Old 07-16-2009, 08:09 AM
 
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I have not witnessed explicit domestic violence before, but I have been known to stop and ask, "Are you ok?" if something looks fishy. I figure, what can it hurt? At worst, they're going to tell me to mind my own biz.

The scariest time I did that, I saw a woman arguing with a man in a parking lot. I got the vibe that she knew him, but didn't want to talk to him and was trying to get away from him while trying to get in her car. I stopped my car (even though there were cars behind me) and rolled down my window and yelled, "Are you ok?? What's going on???" and he stopped and told me everything was "fine", which was enough time for her to get in the car and lock it. I watched her drive away w/o him shortly thereafter, while I was debating calling the cops (at that point, I'd parked and gotten out of my car and was standing in the lot staring at them. I wanted him to know he was being watched. Yeah, maybe not the safest move, if he was a killer or something.) But I felt good about what I did. I coudln't just drive by while this woman was being harassed. I did what I'd want someone to do for me.

--"Mama Bear" : to DD 8/06
Tree-hugging :, queer-loving , liberal, feminist hippie mom! :
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