When You See Something, Should You Say Something?

how to deal with emotional abuse

When You See Something, Should You Say Something?

This past week disturbing photos of celebrity chef Nigella Lawson and her husband Charles Saatchi were all over the news. The couple was outside at a restaurant, and Saatchi grabbed her by the throat. What we know from the simple fact that photos of the incident exist — and that the couple was eating outside at a public restaurant — is that people witnessed what was going on. Yet no one seemed to have intervened. 

As a bystander to any kind of violence, it can be difficult to know whether or not you should get involved and what to do. If it’s an incident between a couple, many people feel like it’s not their place to intervene because it’s a ‘private’ issue.

On Tuesday evening, loveisrespect Director Brian Pinero spoke with Huffington Post Live about what we should do as bystanders if we witness something. He was joined by Director of the Center for Progressive Development Douglas LaBier, Defense Attorney Matt Kaiser, and Austin, TX bar owner Leon Solimani.

Check out the video below to see what they had to say. If you saw a couple fighting in public, would you intervene?

Comment section

15 replies
  1. I am so happy to see this subject being brought up,

    I left my abusive husband of 13 years with our 10 year old son 3 years ago and I now advocate about abuse and the hardest part for me is still after moving 2 hours away and leaving everything, I still have nightmares some days, I still cant have anyone touch my neck without panicking from him strangling me
    I sometimes feel like he will never fully leave my mind and that is just wrong.
    but when I was with him he would scream, threaten me in public and I remember one time in the supermarket he got mad over something and started throwing cans at me with our son hiding behind the shopping cart and this man was in the same isle and he just stood there and when my husband was “finished” and left the man picked up the cans and handed them back to me, didnt say anything couldnt look me in the eyes and to this day I will never forget that moment. It reinforced what my husband always said “You mean nothing” NOBODY will care and that day that man proved it.
    By standing up and saying something he would have given me a little hope that maybe someone cared, maybe I meant something and even though my husband would have still been mad later, he might have thought twice the next time in public, or if he would have called the police we might have been able to get away sooner.
    the bottom line is as long as people stay silence you are telling the victim THEY are deserving the abuse.
    trust me my husband told me daily how little I meant and you believe it after a while and when people look the other way, It just proved his point.

    I am now stronger and my son and I are moving forward, one day at the time and I am hoping one day his demons will all leave me but at least I dont deal with them daily anymore but too many do
    so PLEASE say something, call the police just dont look the other way

  2. I was beaten by my ex boyfriend. I went back to him because he destroyed my self esteem and convinced me it was my fault. I finally summoned enough courage to leave him. I feel very emotionally and mentally drained but I am moving forward. I will never let a man mistreat me again.

  3. Sara,

    It is great to hear you had the courage to leave and move forward. Thank you for sharing your story with our blog readers. It can be very encouraging to hear how others are able to leave an abusive relationship.

    We removed your last name due to our community guidelines.


  4. Petra,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with our blog community. I’m sorry that you had to endure a violent relationship. No one deserves to be strangled or verbally assaulted. I am glad to hear that you found the strength to leave and move you and your children into a healthier environment.

    The situation at the grocery store is concerning, which is why our organization had a dialogue about what to do if you see someone being hurt in public. I encourage all of our blog readers to watch Huff Post Live at this link: https://www.thehotline.org/2013/06/when-you-see-something-should-you-say-something/ for further information on how to help someone being abused in public.

    Petra, the healing process takes time and it sounds like you are doing your best to take it day by day. If you would like a referral for counseling in your area you can call 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233. Take care.


  5. I’ve been abused ever since I was a baby no ever cared for me and I tried to commit suicide and when I was 12 I got pregnant my boyfriend told me to have a abortion but I tried to say no I have adhd and I got really sleepy so I took the abortion pills cause I thought that they were my vivace and I puked and when I went to the doctor I found out that she was dead I tried to kill my self for a second time I acuactually died and God said no and I was back and he was there again I started crying really loudly he raped me he’s in jail now and I have 10 kids! So you see at first stuff doesn’t seem right but in the ending everything turns out OK …

  6. Every time my husband & I visited a relative & his family, the wife is constantly screaming at her husband, which is the cousin, whether he is at home or on the phone, and it’s in front of her two (2) children, who are very young. I found out that her and her two (2) children are in a Crisis Center for Abused Women. We don’t know why she is in there when she is the abuser. My cousin is the one that was being abused and not only that, but I believe the children are too. The children should not have to hear her screaming or swearing all the time. She claims she has disabilities and can’t get her doctor to agree and every time we are there, she’s always just laying around and doing nothing accept complaining about her aches & pains or complaining about something. My cousin has had to go to jail because he defended himself by yelling back at her. She’s was always complaining that he doesn’t have a permanent stable job, but she was always making him take her everywhere. I suggested different things she can do to help her aches & pains, but all she did was boss her husband around. My husband & I agreed that she can’t have both ways. We’re not sure how she treated her children when we’re not there or in public, but we know for sure she is definitely abusive toward my cousin. In fact, while her and her two (2) children are staying at the Crisis Center, she calls my cousin to yell at him and arguing with him. I thought you weren’t supposed to have any contact with the “abuser” and to let the authorities handle the situation. She’s still abusing him while she in the Crisis Center and possibly in front of the children, what is wrong with this lady? My cousin is at wit’s end and doesn’t know what to do anymore, he’s having a hard time finding a job because she’s constantly calling him and arguing with him and he’s trying to make her happy but it doesn’t seem like she’s never happy. Yes, I’m defending my cousin, not because he is a relative, but she is being so unfair to him and getting away with it. I’m not used to seeing or hearing something like this, I had to report it so hopefully someone will help him and take care of this situation. I hope my name will be anonymous along with my e-mail address. I don’t want any complications with her or her family. Thank you.

  7. Dixie thank you for sharing your story it takes a lot of courage to go through what you have been through and survive. If you ever need someone to talk to for support or resources we are here 24/7 at the NDVH for you. You can call us at 1-800-799-7233.

  8. Julie,

    Thanks for sharing with our blog community. This sounds like a very scary and frustrating situation. Unfortunately it is very common for a person who is abusive to make themselves out to be the victim to use the local resources that are available. It sounds like you are trying to be there to support your cousin and I encourage you to pass along our number, 1-800-799-7233, to him. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is completely anonymous and confidential and is available 24/7. An advocate will be available to offer him guidance and support.

    I would like to clarify, your comment on this blog post is not a report or documentation of the abuse. I deleted some identifying information from your post per our community guidelines.

    I hope your cousin is able to reach us.


  9. I was in an abusive relationship with the father of my kids for 10 longer years.He tooked away the car keys and my phone, he let me locked in the house and beat me and always told me that I was not worth anything for anybody. One day I ran to my neighbors house all scared,and I knocked on the door and when I told them what was going on they said they had nothing to do with that problem and that they can’t help me,AND JUST LIKE Petra said before in this blog , you think you worth nothing,and that nobody can help you and even blame yourself for all that.Is a sad situation.
    These men know how to psychologically manipulate you, and sadly I was in that type of relationship for 10 years, until 2011 when I escape from the house with my two sons,it was enough!!!
    And the worst part is that his wife now is pregnant and he beats her too,he had charges of aggravated battery of a pregnant victim,and also child abuse because her doughter was in the middle of the fight so he can’t beat the mother,and you know what? she dropped the charges and he get way with a big NO ACTION!!!! CAN U GUYS BELEIVE IT??????
    PEOPLE NEED GET AWARE OF THIS SITUATIONS, HE HAVE A LOT OF MONEY SO HE ALWAYS GET GOOD LAWYERS,I always say that the only way you pay attention is when the abuser kills someone, why it has to be like that!!!!!!

  10. I was in love with my husband two years ago we decided to get married… couple months later he told me he had to go to Florida. My dream was move to Florida with him we leave in Boston, very cold. He asked me for some money because my job gives more privileges them his. I gave him 3000 dollars he went to Florida he sent me pictures with a boys looking like girls.
    I kind felt this was weird so I told him what kind of boys were they?
    He text me back 2 weeks later asking for money to come back. I was so sad and I told him we were done.
    He came back from Florida stayed in his parents house. Called me many time and came to my house I never opened the door again to listen to his bs. One day my friends told me he was in a gay club so I drove there just to see it with my own eyes. He was there In the bathroom with this boys I told him I wanted the divorce and he started scream horrible things like he was a another person. I left but never called the police… it’s been a year since this day and till today I still marriage to this man. he doesn’t sign the divorce and worse keep saying all this horrible things to me… I don’t kow what to do anymore. I am moving away from here and never coming back

  11. Salome,

    I am glad you and your children were able to get away from your abuser. It can be hard to leave for many reasons. An individual is abusive because they want power and control over their intimate partner and will verbally, emotionally, or physically hurt even a new partner in their lives; as you mentioned is happening with his new wife. I am sure she had her reasons for not wanting to press charges and had to make that hard decision. If you are in contact with her, maybe you can give her The Hotline’s phone number 1-800-799-7233 for help, it is completely confidential and anonymous.

    You might like to read It’s My Life Now: Starting Over After An Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence by Meg Kennedy Dugan and Roger Hock. You are always welcome to call as well for further support or local referrals. Thank you for sharing your story with our blog community. Take care.


  12. Jos,

    Thank you for sharing with our blog community. Your situation sounds very complex. It is unfair that he won’t sign the divorce papers so that you can move forward with your life. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has advocates available 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 if you would like further support concerning your situation.


  13. Is it legal for a husband to not carry medical insurance on his wife? He has a job as a teacher in a school district. She has no job, and no way to earn money. There is a lot of abuse, and in spite of myself and my mother trying and trying, she will not seek help. She has some serious medical problems, (that I consider life-threatening) but he tells her that she has no medical insurance; he got coverage for him and “his” kids (she is their birth mother and they are married). Since she has no money, she (thinks she) can’t go to the doctor – she is so scared of him she won’t go to the emergency room either. I am afraid she is very depressed, and perhaps even suicidal – to think she will not seek help for herself – but I wonder if she might really have insurance and he is just telling her this to control her. Would the school district be able to tell her the details of his insurance plan? This is happening in the state of Texas.

  14. Jeanette,

    Unfortunately we are not legally trained. I don’t know if it’s illegal to not carry insurance for your partner. I’m sorry your friend is being treated this way. It is terrible how controlling her abuser is being by withholding money and medical help. There are low-income clinics that she may be able to seek out for help. You, or your friend, can call us for that information at 1-800-799-7233 or you can call 211 on your phone for social services in your area. They should be able to tell you if she qualifies for free or sliding scale clinic services. Thank you for reaching out through our blog community. If you want to give your friend the number above, this hotline is confidential and anonymous and advocates can help safety plan, brainstorm options, and find local referrals for her.


  15. Thank you; I will give her the phone number again; but she never takes my advice. It upsets me even more because she has 3 children – 2 girls and a boy. I cringe to think this cycle will be repeated because the kids will grow up thinking that this is how men are supposed to treat women. It was only after reading a book when my son was 5 about how a boy who grows up seeing his father abuse his mother would also become an abuser – that I finally had the courage to leave my terribly abusive husband. So I KNOW how difficult it can be. At that time – I had NO family to help me (this was 28 years ago) but even then there was a shelter I was able to go to. My younger step-sister has me and other family who will help her but she will not leave. It is so terribly upsetting. When I was at the shelter, I remember a young girl that a social worker brought into the counseling session – she had a cast on her arm because her boyfriend had broken it – and she would not leave him. I wonder if that poor girl even lived. All I had broken were my teeth by a husband I was “legally bound” to, and here she had a broken arm by a “boyfriend”! I will never forget that; I was so saddened by it. So my sister is not the only person in the world who will not get the help they need but it is so hard to understand. Thank you for trying to help the people that need help and will accept it. By the way – years of counseling helped me to not make the same mistake again, and I am now married to one of the kindest men in the world. So there are people that do get out, and it is worth your effort to help them.

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