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We live in turbulent times right now as hate crimes are on the rise, and the global pandemic has ravaged societies, small businesses, and hard-working families.
But there's hope at the end of the tunnel.
The hope comes in the form of our humanity and resiliency to keep fighting even when times look bleak.
It also comes in the form of compassion and helping others in need.
If you see someone being attacked, what do you do?
Did you know there are many things you could by as a bystander without putting yourself in great physical danger?
The vast majority of people would like to protect and defend others in need, but for many reasons, they are afraid to.
Let's discuss 8 ways you can help someone being attacked without putting yourself in danger.
Prelude: Make sure you're not in danger yourself
The precursor to helping someone else in danger is ensuring you, yourself, are not in danger. If you're in danger, or also in danger, you can't help someone else in need.
Think of the age-old airplane example instructing you to put on your oxygen mask before helping your child put their mask on.
If you put your oxygen mask on first, and your child loses consciousness, you can help them put their mask on them so they regain consciousness.
On the other hand if you put your child's oxygen mask on first, and then you lose consciousness, your child may not be able to assist you in putting your mask on.
Here are some ways to make sure you're not in danger:
- Check for additional threats. Sometimes there are multiple attackers from different angles. Sometimes an additional attacker lags behind the first attacker. Perhaps there are more attackers in a getaway car. Before putting your neck on the line, analyze the surrounding environment.
- Secure yourself. Before proceeding with any involvement, make sure you are in a safe location if you need to retreat, take cover, or shelter in place. This could be in your home, your car, or just at a distance.
- Arm yourself. Self-defense tools will come in handy even if you aren't the person being attacked. If you have pepper spray in your bag, a self defense ring on hand, or a gun locked away, make sure you arm yourself.
- Prepare. Take a deep breath, remain calm, and plan how you want to intervene.
Prevention is better than trying to stop something that's already started.
How can you prevent something?
You might see a disorderly gentleman stumbling down the street shouting curse words and racial epithets. He's walking towards an old lady with a cane about a block away. Helping her avoid the situation by walking her across the street or into a store is a great way to prevent a dangerous situation from occurring in the first place. Create a barrier either physical or distance to help keep her safe.
One reason why society is fighting back against recent hate crimes is because we are witnessing them through videos that people take.
Watching an old lady get kicked to the ground and stomped by a man more than twice her size is infuriating and incites change.
So if you don't want to put yourself in physical danger and you have your trusty cell phone, start recording the incident from a safe place.
3. Call the Police
Contacting the authorities is always a great option.
Physically and legally they can intervene in ways a regular citizen cannot.
4. Alert Other Bystanders Who Can Help
Perhaps there are physically fit young individuals who can physically intervene in the situation.
Or someone else can video tape the incident while you call the police.
Involving other people will almost always result in positive results.
When someone sees someone else taking action, that normally prompts them to take action since they're not the first person to do so.
Other people who may have more authority or more resources to intervene are:
- Nearby store workers
- Bus/subway drivers
- Security guards or bouncers
- Government workers
5. Create A Distraction
Honk your car horn repeatedly. Flash your high beams in the direction of the situation. Shouting. Playing loud music. Throwing things or creating a ruckus.
If it's a life or death situation, anything you can do will help the victim survive.
6. Intervene In A Safe Manner
This might mean driving by the incident in your car and verbally intervening.
Shouting from your home or apartment.
Intervening with a group of people for greater strength in numbers.
While intervening might mean putting yourself into harm's way, there are some safe ways to do it.
7. Provide First Aid or Assistance Afterwards
If there is nothing you can do while the attack is occurring, you can always try to help afterwards.
Recently three large male security guards chose not to help an elderly woman after she was viciously attacked by a large male assailant.
If you do not want to physically intervene during the attack, or safely help someone else during the attack, the very least human thing to do is to try to assist afterwards.
This includes providing basic first aid, water, notifying the victim that police and medics are on the way, and comforting the victim until authorities arrive.
8. Provide Evidence to Police
We need to ensure that all criminals are held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
If you have eyewitness testimony, cell phone recordings, or surveillance footage of the attack or the time surrounding the attack, make sure you provide it to the police officers.
This YouTube channel does a great job of analyzing attacks and dangerous incidents that occur, and provides tried and true tips for how to act in these situations.
It's called Active Self Protection and here's the channel: Active Self Protection
There's one thing you should never do and that's nothing.
There's always something you can do to help someone else in need and we've listed 8 important things you can do without putting yourself in great physical danger.
Let's be clear about this. By involving yourself, even in the safe ways we've listed above, there is still some potential for danger or harm.
However, what kind of society do you want to live in? What kind of society do you want your kids to live in?
If your mother was being attacked, would you want three security guards to literally do nothing because it's not in their job description?
Sometimes we need to do what's right rather than what we're told to do.
That's the society we want to live in; one that's led by compassion, morality, and helping others.