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May 25, 2012 > Letter to the Editor: What Would You Do?

Letter to the Editor: What Would You Do?

An incident involving a Safeway employee who intervened when he saw a man beating his pregnant girlfriend has been all over the news the last few days. SAVE's [Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments] Executive Director, Rodney Clark, responds:

Ryan Young, a meat clerk at the Safeway in Del Rey Oaks, saw Quyen Van Tran beating his girlfriend, who is six months pregnant. Mr. Young decided to intervene and as a result, has been suspended without pay by Safeway. I want to applaud Mr. Young's efforts to intervene on behalf of the victim (note that Chief Ron Langford of the Del Ray Oaks Police said if Ryan did not intervene, things could have become much worse for the victim). I also want to question Safeway's action of suspending Mr. Young without pay. Safeway's action has a chilling effect on anyone who might consider intervening in a domestic violence situation. Shouldn't the "Good Samaritan" concept apply here?

As the executive director of a domestic violence prevention agency for the past fifteen years I understand the dilemma of being a bystander and not knowing how to act. Often people think, "It isn't my problem." Violence is EVERYONE'S problem. We are all affected by violence in our community. People accept as true that "No one else cares that this is happening." The reality is that many people want to see an end to violence, but are unsure of how or when to speak up.

I'm not advocating that you put yourself in danger. I'm simply suggesting that there are ways to intervene and still keep yourself safe. Your action is going to help others see that they can take a stand against violence. It also shows the victim she or he is not alone. People imagine "It may make things worse, or the abuser might turn on me." The point of being an active bystander is to help the situation calm down, not create more violence.

I want to offer the following guidelines for the public:
* See the violence for what it is. A lot of times we don't want to admit that violence is happening. We often choose to ignore the situation, look away, or call it something else.
* Don't think, "I'm not a rat." Being an active bystander does not mean you're being a "rat" or that you're weak. It means that you want a safe community.
* Pull out your phone. That action alone may be enough to stop the violence.
* Call the police. Let law enforcement sort out the details.
* Bring the violence to the attention of others. If you are in a crowd ask others if they see the violence.
* Use words! If someone is being abusive, threatening or trying to fight the abusive person is only going to make the situation worse. Instead, ask questions like "Is everything okay?" while looking at both people.

Remember, violence doesn't end after one action. Sometimes the violence will continue, or the people will stay together. This can be frustrating, but it's important to remember that while you can't control what another person is going to do, you can take a stand against violence. Plus, other people have seen you take a stand against violence, and they may follow your example next time they see violence happening!

Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments

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