So today I wanted to chat about something that happened to me just the other day. A form of domestic violence out in the wild and in a VERY public setting.
It was a bit of a trigger for me only because I actually have not been around anything resembling my past since my relationship ended. I see things here and there in movies and I totally feel a type of way or change the channel or look away because it’s not actually happening to a real person. But this…this one was very much real and right in front of me.
So here is what happened that has me so upset..
We are in Florida so of course we have an annual pass for Disney. The happiest place on freaking earth. Maybe slightly less happy in August and 90 degrees with 100% humidity. But whatever. Still happy. We were walking around and enjoying the day and all of a sudden I hear “Shut the fuck up you stupid bitch” OMG ,my head whipped around so fast and I see a man screaming at his wife/girlfriend. She was also pushing a maybe 6 year old girl in a Minnie Mouse stroller. She had the face I know so well. Defeated and stone faced while trying to hold back tears. She was trying to be anywhere but there in that exact moment. Trying to hide and extremely embarressed.
It’s human nature to stop and stare so the amount of people that saw this was going to be expected. And it’s Disney so they are known for crowds anyway. Knowing there was eyes on him he kept going so that was not even an issue for him. He was calling her every name he could. Yelling at his daughter as well calling this child selfish and he could not believe she could be so inconsiderate. A FIVE YEAR OLD. He had a backpack and started throwing things out of it on the ground, threw his hat and the babies had into the bushes and stormed off. The poor woman had to pick up all the items off the floor, repack the backpack and soothe the now crying child. It was heartbreaking.
So what if anything should we do in moments like this? If you’re like me, I was taught to mind my own business. Do not stick your nose in things that does not concern you. Should you say something? Should you help her pick up all her things? Do I not make eye contact and just go about my day and pretend I didn’t see it? At what point do you intervene? Yelling, Throwing things at mom and baby, if he was punching the mom? What about the baby? What the hell should we do in this situation? It’s very murky waters to be surrounded in and most of us feel like we would do the right thing but at what level would you let it go to?
I feel most of us if we saw the guy hitting the child a bunch of us probably would have tackled him. But what about the mom? I’d say we’d lose about half. If he was just yelling and throwing things most of us wouldn’t have said anything at all and kept moving.
I’ll tell you what I did and why. Mom and I made eye contact. I mouthed are you ok? She mouthed back “yes and thank you”. I stayed back until she had her belongings and baby was ok and she moved along. I asked from afar. Made sure she knew I was there if needed and kept my distance.
Here is why.. We do not know her family or what’s best for it. We may want to run over and confront the guy and help but it could completely make things worse for her later. Asking her from afar if she is ok and acknowledge you are here to help if needed is really all you can do in that moment. Her guy could become even more enraged if she was talking or getting help. We don’t know the dynamics. She gave me a response that was was going to be ok. She didn’t have to and that would have been on too. I wasn’t entitled to an answer. She got herself together and baby was good. Emotionally it could not be easy but she was good enough for her to move forward.
My ex would become extremely jealous and angry if I spoke to strangers. I would get in so much trouble and it always ended badly in private. You have no idea if us going over there would do later. We respected her boundaries. As stated if physical harm to child or mom and she was trying to protect herself you have to make the call. But she let us know her boundaries and we were ok with that.
It’s totally ok to feel bad, upset, sick about it. That’s normal. You can worry and hope things get better but we are not there to fix it right then and there.
I still think about this woman and baby a full 48 hours later and hope everything is ok. Everyone has a different path and just because some of us are out or close to it she could just be starting her journey.
Have you seen things like this in public? How did you handle it. Has anyone helped or offered to while it was happening to you?