Overhearing The Neighbors Fight?
As individuals, we are encouraged to mind our own business and not get involved with other people’s drama, but when it comes to witnessing violence when do we decide to get involved and help those who can’t help themselves? This fictional story is meant to display exactly how domestic violence affects bystanders.
One In Four Women Experience Domestic Violence From An Intimate Partner
Megan lived alone in a two-bedroom apartment that she had rented for the past two years. The couple across the hall was usually friendly, but she often overheard them arguing at times. Megan usually ignored it because they didn’t fight frequently, and it never interrupted her sleep or concentration. She had seen her neighbor Farrah with bruises and a broken arm before but wasn’t sure if it was related to the arguments.
Farrah would stop and awkwardly talk to Megan sometimes, shyly apologizing for all of the late-night commotions. Megan never wanted to make her feel judged or embarrassed so she would just laugh it off and let her know it wasn’t a big deal.
Victims of domestic violence might blame themselves for what’s happening to them in order to make sense of the chaos.
Over the past six months, Megan noticed that the arguing became more frequent and violent. Megan was stunned to see Farrah missing a tooth one day when she asked to use her phone. Although she was concerned, she kept to herself and chose to go out more instead of staying at home.
Like clockwork, Megan could hear clamoring and loud yelling from across the hall on a late Friday evening. Disappointed, she put on a familiar movie to escape the disturbance. As the thuds and breaks became louder, screams of pain and crying became overwhelming. Megan’s heart sank into her chest. She froze as her mind raced.
Before dialing 911, she made an effort to investigate this time. She ran to the front door so she could hear better. “You always do this to me, Farrah!” the man screamed. Megan could tell it was an unusually intense situation.
Staring through the peephole, she was shocked to see her neighbor burst through the door with a bruised face and tattered clothes. Megan gasped and fought the urge to open her door. The man continued to grab and shake Farrah around.
What Do You Do When The Violence Intensifies?
Megan nervously dialed 911 and explained the situation and how this has frequently been happening. Farrah was still sobbing and begging her boyfriend to stop. Suddenly, she went quiet and Megan looked through the peephole to see Farrah unconscious and lying on the floor but the boyfriend had disappeared. Megan urged the 911 operator to send the police fast.
As the operator assured her that the police were on the way, Megan collapsed on the couch and silently cried. She thought back to all of the times she ignored the loud arguments and obvious signs of abuse displayed by Farrah. She felt a sense of guilt for not stepping in sooner. Farrah could be seriously injured or even dead. As the sounds of sirens grew closer, she felt anxious but also relieved. Megan hoped for the best and promised herself she would tell the police everything she saw and heard.
Being a bystander to domestic violence is a tough situation for anyone. Megan’s reluctance to get involved was natural. She did not want to intrude on their privacy or put herself in danger. Megan could have called the police anonymously during a previous fight or spoken with Farrah in private, letting her know that she is willing to help. Unfortunately, Megan didn’t take action until the violence was impossible to ignore. This resulted in Farrah being seriously injured, which would have probably happened either way but as a bystander, Megan could have been a voice for someone who might have been too afraid to speak up for themselves.
Anyone experiencing abuse can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline by dialing: