The Cycle of Abuse Hits the Sidewalk

By: Shannon S.

It’s Saturday night and you’re out having a good time downtown: hanging out with friends, bar hopping, and general shenanigans. Then you come across a woman passed out on the street. As I came across such a scene, I paused and turned, concerned for this woman I had never met. A man was trying to help her, then another man came over and started yelling. He then began to violently pull the woman from the ground during which her head hit a glass window.

I stood watching thinking to myself that I had to help, I felt compelled to help this woman. I wasn’t thinking about potentially getting myself in the middle of a dangerous situation, maybe I should have walked away; it’s none of my business right? Maybe I should have called the police right then and there. But my instinct was to go over to this woman and try to help her. The man who was pulling and yelling at her told me he was her husband. I couldn’t get any information from the woman; she was too intoxicated to speak. The friends I was with were attempting to calm the situation, but this man was in no state to speak rationally. He was aggressive and volatile and we needed to leave.

We walked away from the situation in an attempt to find a police officer. Just a couple hours ago there was an officer posted at every corner, but of course they were nowhere to be found when we actually needed one. We circled back around to see if the woman was still there, and there she was, propped up against a building, her husband nowhere in sight. We called 911, and after answering some repetitive questions, two bicycle cops rode up. They managed to get out of her that she was staying at a hotel up the street, and decided it was best to find a cab for her to take there. We then went home, distraught and shaken.

There was a lot going through my mind during this whole ordeal. Mostly I felt helpless. I didn’t want to call the cops right away because I assumed they would just take her to jail. I thought maybe, I could find out where she lived and get a cab to take her there. When my attempts at talking to her went nowhere and her husband was becoming more and more scary, I realized the police needed to handle this situation. But what could they really do? Take her back to the hotel where her husband could easily find her? Honestly, as soon as she sobered up she would probably go straight back to the man that was slamming her head into a wall just hours earlier. That is the cycle of abuse, and my friends and I did not have to capability to help her any further then getting her off the sidewalk. Seeing domestic violence right in front of my eyes made it even more real to me. I was probably stupid to have physically put myself in the middle of it, but I wasn’t thinking, I just wanted to help. Knowing that I couldn’t protect her from her husband makes me feel helpless. The truth is, no one can help this woman unless she wants to help herself. There are organizations and resources that she could turn to, she could try to leave her husband, but it’s ultimately up to her to make that change.

How can you convince people that they deserve happiness, how do you empower women to stand up for themselves?

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