Domestic Violence Affects Everyone

The People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) neighborhood experiment, which was filmed in South Africa using hidden cameras, is a powerful and disturbing one. The PSA begins with a man playing drums in his home late at night. Over the course of the evening, he receives several complaints from neighbors claiming that the noise is too loud.

On a different night, the same man plays an audio recording of a couple having an argument, which quickly escalates with sounds of a woman getting beaten. Unlike the previous night, he receives no noise complaints or inquiries about what is going on inside.  Had there been an actual fight, the woman would have been left alone while the neighbors stayed inside listening to the woman defend herself against her partner.

With at least 1 in 4 women experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime, it is safe to say that most people know someone who has experienced such abuse. Whether it is a family member, coworker, or neighbor, many of us question if we should help. The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!” Most of us know that we should step in and help, but often times we talk ourselves out of doing anything because of our own self-consciousness.  What kind of repercussions will follow if we intervene- will it only make the batterer even more upset? Maybe it’s just not any of my business? What if I say the wrong thing and make my friend upset?

I’m not saying that bringing up this conversation isn’t going to be awkward or by any means easy, but that doesn’t mean the conversation isn’t worth having. If it were your friend or family member who found themselves in this situation, wouldn’t you want someone to be in their corner, to listen and to help? It might be scary or make your friend or family member uncomfortable initially, but the message you send when staying quiet is far worse- that it’s okay.

It’s time that we send the message that partner abuse will not be tolerated. Domestic violence is everyone’s problem and has consequences for more than just the people involved. For example, children who witness domestic violence in the home are affected as seriously as the person being abused. These innocent children suffer from anxiety and depression that will follow them for years to come.  How can future generations learn respect and boundaries if nobody steps in to help? It takes just one person to intervene and send the message that violence is not acceptable. It’s time to take back our community and end this cycle of violence once and for all.

There are resources available to assist those wishing to help a friend or family member who is currently experiencing abuse. Please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline ( for ways to help… and possibly save lives.

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  • crowepps

    When you hear a loud argument next door, one that is loud enough that you are concerned, it is not necessary to put yourself at risk.  CALL 911!  Tell the dispatcher what is going on and they will protect your privacy if you tell them you do not want the officer to stop at your house because you don’t want your neighbor to know you called.  This is URGENT if there are children in the home.

  • mechashiva

    Seriously. If the police show up and there hasn’t been violence, that’s not a bad thing. I eventually left my abusive ex, but I probably would have left sooner if the police had showed up during one of our loud fights. It would have jolted me into reality the way the physical violence eventually did.

  • next-door-solutions

    The message we send to victims when we don’t call the police is awful. Nobody should be left to feel as if they are on their own and not worth the effort of helping.

  • saltyc

    when they see or hear something they deny is real. There ia a huge amount of resistance to the concept of violence against women, even in the comment section of that video on youtube you see arguments that men and women suffer equally in a battering relationship, like the batterer is suffering just as much as the victim, or he can’t control it, and other such nonsense. There is a huge gap between actual domestic violence and the public understanding of it.

  • crowepps

    In addition, bystanders enable the continuing devaluation of victims when an abusive spouse makes a nasty comment in their presence and they smile weakly to pass it off as a ‘joke’ or don’t say anything at all.


    If we are brave enough to speak up when people make racist remarks, we should also be brave enough to speak up when people make remarks about the spouse being ‘dumb as a stump’ or ‘fat as a pig’.  This kind of remark is insulting to US as well because the abusive person is taking it for granted that we’re the kind of person who will join them in their bullying — let’s the two of us snicker at how pathetic my spouse is —

  • next-door-solutions

    do you think that has to do with the fact that it is referred to as “domestic” violence? Is it a misnomer to call it as such? Sure, it takes place in the home but that doesn’t mean we should pretend as if it doesn’t exist or consider it a private matter. The term ‘intimate partner abuse’ has been getting more attention but domestic violence isn’t just between partners.

  • ack

    As a community and a society, we all have a responsibility to do something when we witness abuse, whether it’s verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, or some combination of the four. I encourage people to have a game plan: if it’s safe, intervene with the person exhibiting the abusive behavior, either immediately or later. Let them know that what you witnessed was not ok, and that help is available to assist them in changing their behavior if they can’t do it alone. You can also support the victim or target immediately or later, by asking if they’re all right, offering resources like hotline numbers, and telling them the following:

    What happened is/was not your fault.

    You deserve to be treated with kindness.

    Help is available if you need to talk to someone about what’s going on.

    Less overt options include changing the subject or distracting the person exhibiting the behavior, or calling the police if you hear or see something that makes you nervous for someone’s safety.

  • ack

    I go back and forth on this issue a lot. “Intimate partner violence” brings up physical acts for most people, whereas “intimate partner abuse” encompasses the wide range of behaviors abusers use to control their victims. “Family abuse” gets at the range of relationships, but doesn’t cover people who are dating and still makes it seem like a private matter… It’s tough.


    If we’re talking about intimate partners, personally, I think we should differentiate between “situational couple violence,” which covers intermittent acts of violent behaviors that don’t involve coercive control, and “intimate partner terrorism” or “intimate partner abuse” when coercive control is present.


    Power dynamics are important, and a guy who gets mad at his brother and punches him in the face isn’t the same as a guy who has been controlling where his girlfriend goes, who she talks to, whether and where she works, what she wears, and then gets mad at her and punches her in the face.


    I’m not sure if I was entirely clear; does that make sense?