Intervening on Violent Situations…Should You Do it?

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1. Should you Intervene in a Situation?

It’s inevitable you’ll witness someone in a distressful situation. You might witness a dispute, confrontation, robbery, kidnapping, attempted sexual assault, etc. This raises questions about what to do in such a situation. As close combat practitioners, there’s a tendency to want to jump in headfirst and show off our cool ninja moves. That said, uncomfortable as it is we must be careful about intervening on someone’s behalf. Today, let’s examine a few things to keep in mind when intervening in a situation. We could potentially be dealing with a criminal setup, putting others in a more dangerous predicament and lengthy legal predicaments.

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2. Beware of Criminal Setups

Certain criminals attempt to setup good samaritans by staging phony scenarios. I’ve mentioned on here before that criminals will use elaborate ruses to setup victims. These ruses could include a phony argument or an increasingly hostile discussion that’s becoming disruptive in public. When you attempt to break it up multiple people begin assaulting you. A similar situation happened to a friend of mine in NYC. Luckily they just stole his personal property.

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3. Beware of escalating the situation

Intervening in a conflict can potentially escalate a conflict. An abusive husband yelling at his wife in a public restaurant is problematic. However, stepping in and telling the guy not to grab her by the hair might make matters worse. Now, he’s angry and also feeling humiliated. Do you have a plan if he goes to his car to “cool off” only to grab a gun and open fire? Do you really want to get this involved with a group of strangers you don’t know? Are you unwillingly putting more people’s lives in danger if he decides to open fire on everyone?

Also, you don’t know how committed someone is to complete a crime. Attempting to stop a kidnapping in progress is honorable but this could become extremely violent. Is this person someone with severe mental disabilities who will begin stabbing you immediately? Or is this an experienced criminal that has multiple accomplices waiting in a getaway van across the street waiting to jump those that intervene? Are you dealing with a dangerous gang member that will commit themselves to getting revenge on you?

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4. Does this person WANT YOUR help?

Also, we need to consider that this person doesn’t want our help and will become violent if we intervene. I remember hearing back in jiu-jitsu class about a bouncer who was working a door in NYC. He witnessed a guy arguing with his girl who began slapping her around. The bouncer took the guy down and started beating him up. The girl took her shoe off and struck the bouncer in the face and he lost his eye as a result. Worth it? Only you can answer that for yourself.

I’m not excusing her behavior but remember most people aren’t trained fighters. You take their husband down to the ground to just “hold” him. To the average person, it might look like your beating the living daylights out of him and could kill him. Perception is a hell of a thing under duress and can lead someone to respond excessively.

The last thing about this is that abusive relationships are complicated. There could be tremendous pressure on the part of the abused to side with the abuser. This is because you won’t be there with them on the ride home when they get back home and are beaten because they sided with a stranger. So even if one wants to graciously accept your help they might not be in a position to do so.

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5. Legal implications can make matters even more difficult

Lastly, you have to be prepared to suffer legal consequences as a result of your intervention. You could be sued by the aggressor and by the victim you were trying to help. It sucks but it happens. Furthermore, if things escalate onlookers and property owners could try to sue you as well. You can’t fully control a violent situation and others could unintentionally get hurt. Guess who they could potentially blame in court?

6. Closing Thoughts

I partly wrote this because where I live there’s a couple that is always arguing with one another. One time the police needed to be called. Guess what they’re doing right now? Walking with their baby holding hands and kissing. Stay vigilant people and I hope you got some good ideas from this article.

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