Thursday, September 3, 2009

Think Ahead - What Would You Do?

A friend of mine sent this to me today.

As I was walking to my car on my way to work, I heard these unsettling sounds coming from down the street. I stopped, stood still as I was unsure what the noise was. It was a woman screaming and crying from deep within her being as she was being abused. The cries were horrendous and her screams unbearable. What was even worse, I could hear the sound of her attacker's blows as she screamed out in pain and suffering. I heard him yelling at her right before he would strike. (I could not make out what he was saying, only his voice). He must have been hitting her with a solid object - it was certainly more than his fist. I have NO IDEA where she lives, which house the noise was coming from, or how to help save her.

I stood there, helpless and unsure of what to do. I had to get to work, but at the same time I could not just do “nothing.” I drove around the neighborhood to see if I could pinpoint which house so at least I could try to stop the attack. The sound of my engine and the children that were cycling down the street on their way to school muffled the noise. I left the neighborhood in tears the size of elephants, as I could not immediately save this person that needed help.

I prayed very hard for God to guide me in what to do. I tried calling my husband (a law enforcement officer) at home numerous times to see if he could go outside and listen and help pinpoint the location, but his phone must have been off. I tried calling the house phone, but no one was awake to answer. Helpless, I prayed even harder. I was running late by now and had to continue my journey to work.

After many failed attempts to reach anyone at the house, I called the sheriff’s office and explained what I heard. I felt stupid because I could not give them an exact location. The officer on the phone was very nice and said he would have someone drive around the neighborhood to see if they could find this person. (Seriously doubtful by the time they got to the neighborhood). My prayers are they found this woman and were able to help her.

It amazes me that people that live closest to this house could not, or would not, help her.

So, after I got to work I called the neighborhood association to ask if they knew of anyone in our area that had a history of DV (I tearfully explained what I heard). They were not aware of anyone, but would be more than eager to keep eyes and ears open. I requested they send the security around our area today to possibly find something that will lead us to helping this lady.

She later told me that she thought about trying to locate the house and knocking on the door (after calling 911) to make the perpetrator stop. That, of course, would be an extremely dangerous solution to what was happening in her neighborhood. But it got me to thinking about how important it is for EVERYONE to think through what they would do in a similar situation. Because it's easy to become paralyzed when confronted with a dangerous situation.
The answer? Call 911, tell them where the assault is happening, give them your information so you can file a witness statement, and follow their instructions. Unless you're trained to handle situations like this, it is not recommended that you attempt to intervene alone.  Tom Barrett, the Mayor of Milwaukee, courageously intervened to protect a woman from a beating by her son-in-law. BUT, he was also severely injured.
And in Brooklyn, there was a different response to DV in the streets.

In addition to helping victims develop a safety plan, anyone who wants to help a victim needs one too.

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