Should You Intervene When Someone is Being Verbally Attacked?

Great question! I am so glad I was included in this article in The Chicago Tribune in their Social Graces  column. The idea was sparked after this video of a woman berating another woman working at a Michael’s store went viral.

You see someone being verbally attacked in public over political beliefs. Should you intervene in any way or pull out your phone to record?

Here is my answer:

Is the “bully” of sound mind?

Perhaps he/she is on drugs, mentally ill or forgot his/her meds. Many times stepping in as a bystander with logic will not matter to someone who is not of sound mind.

What you can do is comfort the person who is being bullied and help remove him or her from the situation completely.

Are you putting yourself in physical danger by stepping in?

If yes, call in authorities, and do not do anything yourself. Filming may be appropriate if something may need to be proved later.

It’s not OK to whip out your phone when someone is being taunted, harmed or abused, and instead of helping or calling the police, you are busy filming.

You don’t ever want to put yourself into a situation where you will be physically harmed. You never know who might be packing heat and will pull out a gun in a rage.

— Jennifer Cassetta, self-defense expert and nutritionist

If you witness verbal abuse, you have to judge whether it’s safe for you to intervene. If it is, resist the urge to mind your own business. Remaining silent tells the abuser, the victim and other onlookers that harassment is OK.

So what do you say? Although it may be tempting to hurl insults at the abuser, try to de-escalate the situation instead.

Ask the person open-ended questions: “You seem angry. Why?”

Find the rest of the story here on The Chicago Tribune website.

Article by Andreea Ciulac