Have you ever seen the TV show "What Would You Do?" It's a show on ABC where weird situations are staged, and recorded via hidden camera to see how people will react. Pretty old-school concept. I like the show, because it always does spark thought as to "What would I do?"
Which brings us to the question of the hour:
What do you do when you see a guy beating up on his girl?
That’s what I wandered upon walking to the train station Friday night.
Earlier in the evening, I attended a CSO at the movies presentation of The Empire Strikes Back. It was my first time attending any performance at the Symphony Center, which is an amazing beautiful space. Of course, the performance was top notch. It ended at about 10:10pm, and I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to retrieve my backpack from my friend's car and get to the train station by 10:30pm, so I decided to grab some food.
After grabbing some food to go, I headed to the train station. Upon approaching the gas station at Congress & Wabash, the craziness ensued.
I got there just as a verbal confrontation was turning into a physical one. The passenger side door of the vehicle about 15 feet from me pops open, with a slew of obscenities flying out. From there, the driver side door flew open, and a man ran around the trunk, also screaming obscenities. The passenger door opens, and out comes a female.
The tenor of the extremely heated exchange screamed to me that the 2 people are in some variation of a relationship. Before I could kind of process what was happening, the pair were engaging in fisticuffs.
I attempted to assert some kind of reason into the situation verbally. I yelled, “my man, you can’t be out here fighting and punching women.”
He told me to mind my fucking business.
Allow me to assert right now that it is never ok to hit your significant other.
Notice I did not insert sex or gender into the above statement.
It is never ok to hit your significant other.
It was at this point I dropped my stuff, and pulled out my phone. Also out of the car had come a "friend" who seemed to be fumbling with her phone. I told her to call the police. Up to this point, the male was getting the better of the woman in all of their exchanges, but nothing too crazy.
But then, he got her against the car and starting putting the hands in on her for real.
So many thoughts raced through my head at that moment:
- What should I do?
- What if this dude kills this lady out here?
- Will you be able to look at yourself if you don't do anything?
- Are you prepared to throw hands with this guy?
- Is this a hill you're willing to die on?
As I sit back and reflect on these questions, I'm not sure my answers will ever vary. If I didn't do anything, the answer to question 3 would be no.
For number 4, I actually recently began taking Muay Thai classes. As Drill Sergeant Brown would have said, "You know exactly enough Muay Thai to get your ass kicked well." But as I was putting my stuff down, I thought what my muay thai instructor tells us every class, "Trust your guard (the frame of your hands in Muay Thai)", it'll protect you.
And number 5...I'm a veteran. I don't usually put much stock in that, but I spent a large portion of my life putting my life on the line for others. There's something about that that you never shake from your system. I don't know my reaction would have been the same if it had been a gang of goons beating someone up, but before I had time to think through any of this, I was in motion. I'm also very fortunate to have 9 years of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under my belt. I wrestle with men, skilled men, on a daily basis. One thing I know is that if I can handle myself with my teammates, I can handle some unskilled guy.
I approached the guy, basically standing over the woman and dropping fists on her at this point, and slid a rear naked choke on him, while still telling her friend to call the police.
I got a one arm choke on him, going ear to ear to avoid the headbutt while allowing me to talk to him, and then grapevined his left arm. He struggled for a few seconds, but as I tightened the choke, he stopped struggling fairly quickly.
Now, it was at this point the woman attacked him! Remember, we were ear to ear. She comes up and starts winging punches. Every swing she throws with her right hand is coming towards my face. I'm dancing with him in a choke, trying to avoid both of us getting hit. My overriding thought in the moment was,
If the police roll up right now. They're gonna see me holding him, and her taking shots, and think I'm an accomplice to some kind of attack, and we're both going to jail...how the fuck did I get here???
It probably took close to a minute, but I finally got distance between them. It was at this point I tried to de-escalate things as best I could. I told the guy to be calm. I then asked him if he had any weapons. I told him my intervening now put us in conflict, and I’m not trying to die over someone else’s bullshit. Racing through my mind was the thought, "This guy was just beating a woman in the face in public. If he has a gun or knife on him, you're a dead man."
He told me he was calm, and he didn’t have any weapons. I gave a cursory check of the waistline with my left hand, and then re-grapevined his arm. I told him I would shove him to create distance between us, which I did. He seemed oddly cool now, and started picking up his stuff off the ground which had been dropped in the melee.
A moment later however, the verbal engagement ensues, at which point he picked up one of those windshield washer sticks, and threatened to bust the woman's head. Thankfully at this point another guy comes up and helps me de-escalate the situation, and the guy finally walked away.
I thanked the other intervener, grabbed my shit, and got out of dodge.
I know the situation could have turned out a lot differently. All things considered, the sitaution worked out in the best possible way.
I ripped my new sweatshirt, got scratched a few times, and lost my Apple earbuds. Other than that, my adrenaline was on 100! I hopped the Metra 20 minutes later, got home, and totally crashed.
Looking back, I can think of 20 things I could have done differently, do better, but I did what I could in the heat of the moment.
In other thoughts, domestic violence is real y'all. Standing in the shadow of the Mercy Hospital shooting, which was sparked due to a domestic violence situation, I suppose I was a bit more sensitive to how that situation could have potentially ended.
What truly bothered me ultimately about the situation was that we were not the only people out there. I saw no less than 5 people walk by. Not one of them attempted to stop and help in any fashion. I imagine multiple police calls would have elicited a timely response. Hell, they didn't even stop and whip out their phones and take video like everyone seems prone to do nowadays.
That's shitty. Yes, I'm judging and that is shitty.
We talk about the city that we want to see, that we want to live in, and yet no one wants to put the work in. How do you see a woman being battered by a bigger man, and just walk on by? That's gross as fuck to me.
In other thoughts...if you are a victim of domestic violence, there is help out here. There is help available.
In 2019, I hope we can be better people. I hope we can help each other. I hope we can be a better city. #ChicagoStandUp
Upon reflecting upon the situation, one final thought came to mind; While in the moment, I said "call the police" no less than five times, ultimately, I don't think I wanted the police there any more than the other participants. I am a college educated professional. I work for one of the premier health facilities in the nation...and yet, I can't be assured what a police encounter could yield, simply because of my skin color.
What a sad commentary is that?
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This post was created on an HP Pavilion x360.
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