Spousal Abuse

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Spousal Abuse

Postby miked » Sun Feb 07, 1999 8:12 pm

On another karate mailing list, of which I am a member, the topic of spousal abuse was raised. It seems that a fellow martial artist had observed someone hitting his wife/girlfriend in public and he stepped in to intervene by threatening the attacker. The threat worked at that moment in time and the couple left the scene.

Many of the replies that I saw to this intervention indicated that although the victim was spared a beating at that very moment the intervention may have caused the coward to become even more agressive in the privacy of the couple's home.

Another poster suggested that the witness should have taken down the license number of the coward's vehicle and reported the incident to the local authorities.

I have also read of incidents wherein the victim "turned on" the witness as the witness was engaged with the yellow-bellied, scum-sucking dreg of humanity.

So what to do? What to do? My initial reaction upon seeing a woman or child being beaten would be to rip the yellow-bellied scum sucking dreg's head off and stuff it down his still-writhing neck cavity, spreading gasoline over the corpse, lighting it on fire, performing a "Touch Down" victory dance around the corpse and inviting all the neighbors over for a weenie roast.
(Anthony are you with me on this one?)

Now, having said that, I realize that there are all sorts of consequences (physical, legal, moral, ethical, spiritual) of acting on this impulse. I suspect with today's legal system I would probably end up in jail for murder while the dreg would be held up by the media as a victim of senseless, violence, while the dreg's friends all praised his "noble and virtuous existence" on the local news.

Between the extreme of being tried for first-degree murder and engaging in a nonconsensual coupling with "Bubba" in the state pen while watching Oprah or passively writing down a license plate number while watching a woman or child being beaten senseless, what other options do we as martial artists have?

I am addressing this specifically to martial artists because IMO the general public does not have the physical skills for dealing with aggressive, violent indivduals. We, as martial artists, OTH (on the other hand) usually do not have the professional counseling skills required to deal with this situation.

It seems to me that this situation requires a controlled response. This would mean effecting a citizen's arrest, and if necessary using martial arts techniques to restrain the yellow-bellied scum sucking dreg of humanity while someone else approaches the victim and offers her an escort to a safe place, while someone else retrieves the local constabulary.

In my little scenario, I count a minimum of 3 individuals to assist with the immediate situation, the restrainer, the victim's escort, and someone to get the authorities. And let us not forget the local authorities themselves. Now my question is this. Assuming that most of us who are of dan rank could probably handle the yellow-bellied scum-sucking dreg of humanity (Yeah, I know this is a big assumption), if you don't have the afore-mentioned backup then should we, as MA's, physically intervene in this situation?

Looking forward to everyone's thoughts.

I would also especially like to hear from those of you who have seen or been involved in this type of situation and how you handled the yellow-bellied scum sucking dreg of humanity. What would you do differently if you had to do it over again?

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Spousal Abuse

Postby Cecil » Mon Feb 08, 1999 3:26 pm

From the Art of Peace by Morihei Useshiba:

"Even when called out by a single foe, remain on guard, for you are always surrounded by a host of enemies."

This quote applies to this situation in the sense that you have to be aware that the woman may turn on you. Van Canna had said in one of the threads on his forum last year sometime that there are domestic situations where the woman turns on a cop or other intervener who is just trying to help her out. It's strange, but I know quite well that a battered woman is not the only type of person who shows too much loyalty to someone who mistreats her. It's a part of the psychology of her victimization.

That being said, I still have the attitude that I will NOT stand by and watch someone be beaten to death. If the situation is out of hand, i.e., he's just pounding and pounding the woman, I will intervene. This does not mean I will necessarily STRIKE the abuser, but I will do my best to hold him down, or restrain him if possible. If it were just one slap, I might take the approach of writing down the license plate number and phoning the cops.

I know that not interfering goes against our warrior hearts (assuming that the reason you take martial arts is that there is a bit of a warrior in you, no matter how small) and against all good sense, but the truth is that the legal system doesn't necessarily care about what's right, what's fair or what's moral. Remember, she may turn on you for intervening if she is afraid of what he may do to her after a possible sentence in the joint. And yes, your protecting her now may make for a worse beating later, just so that he can maintain his dominance over her.

Again, I would like to say that I know I will not just stand by and watch a woman be severely beaten by a man. I have a wife, sisters, nieces, a grandmother, cousins, friends, and other women I care about, who I would want someone to protect if need be, instead of standing by.


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Spousal Abuse

Postby Jason Bernard » Mon Feb 08, 1999 4:05 pm

A very descriptive way of putting what I think we would all want to do the YBSSDoH
(yellow-bellied, scum sucking dreg of humanity).

As with just about everything in life there are a number of ways of looking at it.

The Moral Perspective. I believe that as martial artists we have the duty to use our strong spirit for good. Whereas your usual person would not want to get involved because of fear, etc ... we have developed that "Spirit of Osu!" that allows us to have a good life by forging it ourselves, we should share that strength with others by helping. So intervene ... help. (see below).

If only life were that easy and simple, and if only society were to agree with us.

The Legal Perspective. As you already said, you can get in a lot of legal trouble depending on exactly what you do. I won't delve any further.

What to do.

1) In the moral perspective I say help. Help doesn't necessarily mean ripping the TBSSDoH's head off and doing your victory dance (no matter how much fun it might be). Help means make the situation better, and that means getting the police involved and possibly whatever abuse support people exist in your community. Call the abuse support people and tell them the story ... the people who work there typically work there because they care. Usually they will get involved in whatever way they can. Call the police and report the incident. If possible (i.e if it is in the apartment next to you for example), tell them you want to press charges for distrubing the peace on him.

If the situation is out of control and you think you need to intervene physically and immediately I would follow these steps:

1) Immediately, CLEARLY (i.e. "Stop beating her up NOW!" ... not "Hey, you ****head, what the **** is your problem?") and loudly (attract attention you want witnesses!), demand that he stop what he is doing immediately.

2) Tell him clearly and loudly that you have called the police ("I have called the police to arrest you" and not "Man, are you in deep ****!") or are going to call the police. Remember to do so, if you haven't already. The YBSSDoH must know that the threat of police action is not just a bunch of wind, but is actually happen or going to happen.

At this point, he will either:

1) Stop and do nothing (well, besides cursing and swearing at you no doubt).
2) Stop and flee.
3) Stop attacking her and attack you. Be prepared!
4) Continue attacking her.

If #1 happens, remember to make it clear to him that you are NOT looking for a fight "I don't want to fight you, and if you attack me the police will arrest you for that too".

If #4 happens, then intervene preferably with a takedown as opposed to a punch or kick.

Always always always always fight battles to win and not to just feel good about fighting it. It feels great to blast the YBSSDoH into goo with your fist, but doesn't win the battle for you. Win win win!

Jason Bernard
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Spousal Abuse

Postby Lori » Sat Feb 13, 1999 3:59 am

An excellent topic and one that has no easy solution! I've come across variations on this theme too many times - and have been faced with making my own moral decisions on how/if to act. What I've seen more often than the actual abuse being perpetrated in front of me (this kinds of things most often take place behind closed doors) is evidence of the abuse that is covered up with sunglasses, makeup, high necked collars etc. One was a co-worker who was continuously suffering "accidents" - yet in all other aspects seemed to be a very together, professional, intelligent woman. She eventually ended up getting shot when her soon to be ex-husband tried to take them both out with a .357 - Another was the mother of one of my students - although the family seemed to hide it for the most part - the physical indications were there. Another instance I wrote of last year on this forum - I answered the phone at the dojo and heard a frantic woman looking for lessons on self-defense as she was in the process of being abused by her adult son! Believe it or not - that one was the easiest to handle! I got the domestic violence hotline on the other line and hooked them up! The difference in the last case was that the woman had made the first move! She wanted help! The problem in the other cases is that the woman a) is in denial b) thinks she deserves it c) is afraid of repercussions or d) believes she can handle the situation without outside help. This is where it gets tricky on intervention. As correctly pointed out above, the woman being abused may very well turn on her defender for various reasons. Also as deBecker points out in his book - the legal recourses of restraining orders and such often escalate the situation! I've seen this happen first hand! A simple, supposed to be peaceful breakup turned very ugly and violent when the woman took the precaution of serving an injunction on him so she could leave unmolested!

So, what to do? Suggestions in above posts are very good, I would only elaborate by this much: First decide how far you are willing to go under what circumstances so that if you ARE witness to an act of abuse, you can respond with forethought and not on a purely emotional level. Be prepared for legal consequences and her rejection of your help! Draw your own lines in the sand before the situation even arises ie. how bad does it have to get before you will interfere. Also, don't underestimate the power of a subtle hint. I have a stack of cards that have listings of various women's shelters and confidential assistance telephone numbers - I always keep a few with me - if I suspect someone is being abused, I will leave one of these cards where she can find it - not making a big deal out of it and further embarrassing her - sometimes the woman may stay in the situation simply because she feels she has no options. The cards tell her that there are a few avenues out there.

Good subject.

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