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Author Topic: Witnessing Violence  (Read 15942 times)


  • Barfly
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Witnessing Violence
« on: October 18, 2009, 03:22:41 PM »
I've seen a bunch of things happen over here but saw two situations today within a short period of time that were a little disturbing. The first was right outside my apartment building. I was walking back and saw a couple arguing up ahead. The girl was clearly upset and trying to get away. The boy was screaming at her, grabbing her so she couldn't get away and shaking her. All this time people were walking by like nothing was happening. I slowed to almost a stop as I went by and stared at the guy, who had stopped yelling and pulled the girl off to the side of the road. I kept looking over my shoulder as I walked away but they seemed to have calmed down.
Later I was walking through the main gate of our campus. There were people everywhere and a whole group of school security guards standing around. I heard some commotion and looked up to see this guy run up and legit drop kick a girl at full speed in the back. She stumbled over while he ran back to a group of friends. She started screaming, ran up and hit him and then ran away crying. All the while the security guards, passerbys and the guy's friends kept going about their business like nothing had happened.
Both situations, especially the second one, were so conspicuous and public that if they had occurred back home someone would have stepped in. I thought I was going to have to do something before the girl who got kicked ran away. The complete apathy shown by everyone around was the most disturbing part.
As a foreigner it's really hard to know when to step in or fully understand the situation. Still, there are times when it's clear things are out of control, like the girl being kicked, and yet people do nothing. Even then I don't know how I'd go about getting involved or if it would be safe to do so. Everyone knows there's no such thing as a one on one fight with a Chinese person.

Day Dreamer

  • Barfly
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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2009, 03:38:27 PM »
A couple months ago, our schoool driver (male) and our foreign affairs officer (female) were driving me home from a late class around 7:30PM. Just before we turned the corner to my street, I yelled at the driver to stop as I witnessed a girl on the receiving end of some serious roundhouses from a guy. The FAO asked what was going on, I told her to stop the car and explained. They thought I was kidding.

As soon as the car stopped I hightailed it back with the other two. As we approached, the bedlem had calmed down but a circle of spectators had arrived. The FAO held me in place and almost ordered me to do nothing! If that had been a 1-on-1 fight between two guys, I would have gone and watched too. Nobody so much as busted a calorie!

The two appeared in their mid twenties. The girl tried to get into a cab, but he dragged her out. After a few choice screams and some pushing and shoving, she got on the back of his bicycle and they rode off.

I wanted to kill him
For you to insult me, first I must value your opinion


  • Barfly
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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2009, 03:55:35 PM »
Intervening in domestic violence situations can be very high risk. More cops are killed or injured in those than by any other type of crime.

The one time I got involved in one didn't work out particularly well. This was back in Canada. A couple having a screaming row, in an alley just off a main street. She was on the ground and he was booting her in the ribs, hard. Most people just walked by.

My friend and I, about 17 at the time, yelled at him. He came after us, roaring, large guy and exceeding drunk. She, still on the ground, took to throwing rocks at us and screaming obscenities, telling us to leave her husband alone. We took off, and called the cops once we were well clear.

In China, I'm not sure calling the cops would do much good, even if your Chinese is up to it.
Who put a stop payment on my reality check?

Lotus Eater

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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2009, 03:57:40 PM »
At home I would have (and have) intervened.  Here, I have been told that it is personal business and to stay out of it.  But when talking about it with the students, they seem to think the climate is changing and state they would take action if they saw something like this.

Not sure if idealism would turn into action in reality, but at least they are clear about the inappropriateness of it.

BUT... and ask any copper, domestic violence is the hardest situation to deal with.  You are just as likely to have the victim turn on you for interfering.


  • Barfly
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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2009, 04:20:51 PM »
Just FWIW:

You CAN call 119 here, whatever your level of Chinese proficiency or non-proficiency.

 If you call and end up babbling like a...well, foreigner...they'll figure it out... and the 119 Police will respond to the scene pretty quickly.

The have the same Emergency Network Systems as back home (but like all things Chinese, reversed 911=119 here).
They can track the location of the calls...and if it sounds like a foreigner calling, they'll dispatch a unit right away, even if they can't understand WTF you are saying.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

James the Brit

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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2009, 05:24:26 PM »
In my second week at uni, in student halls, my flatemate (female), who I barely knew at the time, got badly beat up by her now ex-boyfriend in the early hours of the morning. We all went out that night, eleven of us. We went to a few bars and clubs. We all got quite drunk.  :alcoholic: :alcoholic: aaaaaaaaaa as you do in the first few weeks of your first year of uni in the uk.

I went to bed and passed out. During the night they apparently fought in my room (I had forgotten to lock the door) but I was gone and didnt hear a thing. Next thing I know, the next day my flatmate is overed in bruises.

I didn't witness the act but witnessed up close the aftermath and it aint pretty. The fear of how he might be just around the corner, the fear of possible brain damage... Obviously the police came and arrested the c*nt. We never saw him again. Sad thing to happen to her in her first few weeks of uni. It took her a long time to get over it.  alalalalal


  • Barfly Dude
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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2009, 01:25:05 AM »
a whole group of school security guards standing around.

This is a familiar scene...I once witnessed an irate parent smashing things up and threatening staff at a school while the guards looked on.  Another friend of mine got in a bit of an argument with a drunk guy in the street, and when the blokes mates started to join in he decided the best thing to do was retreat into our(guarded) accommodation compound.  Nope, the other guys were able to walk straight in and continued threatening to beat the crap out of him while the security staff watched - luckily they didn't follow him inside the building. I am not sure at what point here, if ever, security guards actually get involved in any altercation.


  • Barfly
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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2009, 07:22:21 AM »
security guards are there to keep beggars/peasants away, or from getting inside of whatever it is they are "guarding".


  • Barfly
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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2009, 07:49:08 AM »
Several days ago, from my fifth floor office window, I witnessed a brawl between two college age boys exchanging expletives, fists, slaps, body slams, etc.

I was quite pleased to see two eldery women break it up.


  • Barfly
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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2009, 10:56:31 AM »
i got kicked in twice in korea intervening in domestic violence

china isn't as bad as korea, but you still see a lot of men shaking their girlfriend etc, i don't ignore it, i walk past slowly and stare, but i've decided that it isn't worth intervening cos at the end of the day even if i could give the guy a beating it wouldn't solve the problem

and as someone pointed out to me in korea after i told them about intervening, if i was an esl teacher in nigeria and it was a 6"3 african guy slapping his girlfriend no way would i get involved cos he'd obviously kill me......

once in newcastle when i was 17 i saw a big guy who had been locked out of his house by his family kicking his door in to get to his family and i didn't do anything cos i was scared. i spose the best thing you can do is just look at them and hope they realise that they are being shocking


  • Barfly
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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2009, 12:51:03 PM »
Would it help to begin comcording the event with your cell phone in a way that the culprit would see you?  From a respectible distance, that is.
"The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore attempt the impossible and achieve it, generation after generation.

Pearl S. Buck


  • Barfly
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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2009, 01:01:00 PM »
The worst I ever saw was in my husband's home town ten years ago when a fight at the next table (in an outdoor restaurant) resulted in one guy breaking a bottle and "glassing" another guy. Nobody intervened, not the police (in uniform) sitting at another table, not the police (in uniform) walking by at the time. It ended when friends pulled the two guys apart.

More recently, I was walking through our compound with my 5-yr old son when we came across a group of our neighbours gathered in a circle - in the middle several of our "bao'an" (compound security men) were beating up a thief who they had caught in our compound. I didn't say anything to them but went to the management office of the compound and complained about this "rough justice", especially the fact that it was carried out in public where anyone, including children, could see it. They said they had to be seen to be tough on thieves or else the compound would be overrun by thieves! I said they should call the police, not do it themselves. My husband also went and complained to them, but I don't suppose it will have made any difference.


  • Barfly
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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2009, 01:06:01 PM »
A lot of the time it is not wise to intervene, because one doesn't know the "background" to a dispute, and the language difficulty won't make things any clearer.
The higher they fly, the fewer!    http://neilson.aminus3.com/

Con ate dog

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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2009, 04:48:42 AM »
I agree with that, old bean, and I think A-train's cell phone idea is the best.  Heck, even if you don't have a cameera on your phone, you can always bluff.

But then it's one thing to say you'd walk on by, another to do it.  there are cases where I know I'd get involved; in fact, this is a fear of mine.  This is one of the ways I could end up leaving China against my will.

This summer I was at a seedy bar late at night with a female friend when a guy we know came in and offered her a ride home; she was very drunk and didn't want to be alone with him in his car, so politely declined.  He kept up the hard sell, then left.  She expressed to me her relief that he was gone... then he returned and started in on her again.  By this time she was sitting very still with her hands in her lap, staring at her feet, so I called her over, said she was free to do whatever she wanted, and asked her what she wanted to do.  She replied that she didn't want to be alone with him, and he was scaring her.  he approached her again, this time with me standing right there, so I said "____, it isn't going to happen." He angrily replied that he wanted to hear that from her, and then she said so.  He sotrmed out, she thanked me, and got into a cab.

The next day he had a mutual friend call me and inform me that I had 2 weeks to leave Suzhou or he'd have some guys make me disappear.  Being a rich kid, his family apparently has just the connections it takes to have this done.  Being my first death threat, I was quite upset by it. 

It's blown over now, but there's a lesson in it: in this case, seedy things happen in seedy places.  I figured a Chinese guy would figure she and I were a couple and back off, whereas a foreigner would, at worst, start a fight with me.  I didn't anticipate a Chinese guy that was partly raised in America threatening me with goons.  That's why I stay out of bars now- that and I figured it best to stay out of his way.
And there is no liar like the indignant man... -Nietszche

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. -William James


Lotus Eater

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Re: Witnessing Violence
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2009, 05:18:36 AM »
But you quite probably saved her from being raped.   agagagagag agagagagag