Your opinions on the subject of 'civic courage' - Results

Never hesitated to help if I was able to

I have had both positive and negative experiences where civic courage is concerned, and I am unable to categorise one particular experience. I was sitting in my car waiting for a friend who had gone indoors to tidy himself up. It was after midnight, and I must have been waiting for five minutes when two girls walked past my car. They were talking and seemed to be rather excited. They stopped outside the next house and discussed something together.

After a brief conversation one of the girls stood against the house wall beside the door while the other rang the doorbell. Shortly afterwards the door opened and a man came out. Then everything happened very quickly. I could not believe my eyes when the girl leaning against the house wall suddenly rushed at the man and began to hit him repeatedly. It did not take long for the man to regain his wits and defend himself. He grabbed her by the hair and punched her in the face. She fell to the ground and received a kick in the stomach. Finally my brain got into gear, I jumped out of the car and ran over to them. The girlfriend ran away when she saw me coming. The man did not notice me and did not stop hitting the girl. I jumped at him and we both fell down. I tried to calm him down, and he made no attempt to hit me or free himself. At that moment the girl sprang at us and tried to hit the man by whatever means she could. The man defended himself and I ended up lying between two people who were obviously trying to kill each other.

I tried to separate them while protecting myself at the same time, however this was not too successful and I received a scratch in the face which began to bleed. All three of us were now standing again, and I did not know what to do next. I don't know why, but at some stage I grabbed the girl and fell to the ground with her. In the process I received a kick in the ribs that had actually been intended for her. I brought her under control and fortunately the man stopped fighting, saying that I ought to get her away from there before he killed her. He then went back into the house. The girl was screaming hysterically, but at least she was no longer striking out wildly any more. She finally calmed down and realised that her girlfriend was no longer there. I took her to my car and saw how terrible she looked, with a bloody lip, a swollen eye and several abrasions. I drove her a few blocks away and attended to her wounds as best I could. She did not want to go to the hospital, so I drove her home. She thanked me and asked me for my name. I was curious to know why but didn't bother to ask.

Some months later I received the answer in the form of a court summons as a witness. The girl was 15 years old and was the "girlfriend" of the man, who was aged 25. It seems that when she refused to sleep with him he raped her. She told her girlfriend everything and the two of them decided to give him a really good hiding (what a super friend, running away as soon as it started). At any rate I was threatened by some friends of this man outside the court building, who warned me that if I said anything wrong they would come after me. Nonetheless I told the truth. The man was given a prison sentence for rape and assault, and I never saw his friends again. Even after this experience I have never hesitated to help if I was able to, but unfortunately very few people do. Once I saw hundreds of people merely watching while a girl was sexually assaulted by a group of thugs, and when her boyfriend or husband objected he was beaten up. I approached several people but nobody wanted to help, and my friend and I would have had no chance alone against so many. Fortunately the thugs soon left her alone and ran off.

Erkan, 6th SG WingTsun

You must adapt to the situation, not try to make the situation suitable

I think the main problem with most people is fear and possible legal consequences. Let's take the example of a helpless woman against a powerful man. In such a situation the onlooker or passer-by no doubt experiences the same "paralysis" as a potential victim who is unable to bring his/her adrenalin level under control (which we learn to do in the Blitzdefence programmes and move around ...), which means that the potential helper is unable to act.

But if you do not consider yourself physically/technically capable of intervening in such situations, what prevents you from calling for help using your mobile phone (almost everybody has one nowadays)?It would be even better to approach other bystanders at once and agree to tackle the baddy together, while somebody else phones the police. If there are no others around you can call on for help, you should imagine that the victim is your own daughter or wife – which means that you must help – after all, you do not have to approach the attacker unarmed, you can use whatever comes to hand – a garden chair, fencepost, your jacket, ballpoint pen, a bunch of keys, belt etc. – though you should always be prepared for him to be carrying at least a knife (with which he might have threatened the victim) – so be careful! The very fact that the attacker is unable to carry out his deed undisturbed will disconcert and possibly enrage him. Usually he will leave the victim alone, either to make his escape or to give the disturbing factor (i.e. the helper) a good hiding – so be prepared for this! I would help under any circumstances, which doesn't mean that as the holder of a lowly student grade I have succumbed to delusions of grandeur and overconfidence, and want to play the hero. As I have already said, there are many possibilities – you must adapt to the situation (WT principle), not try to make the situation suitable ...