Are the days of the good samaritan over?

Are the days of the good samaritan over? You see a man hitting a woman on the street. You have never met these people before…

What would you do and why? As in all conflict the age old advice “look before you leap” is probably the best option before launching into something that you have no real idea of what is actually happening.

If you enter directly into someone else’s argument you had better be willing to go all the way. If you think that you can just go and try to reason with a mad, angry, inflammed situation…you are dreaming!! If you make the choice (I hope that you have had some space to make the choice and are not just acting out of your own ego generated need to be a super hero) to enter into anothers fight then your only option to protect you and your family is to take out the antagonist very quickly….before he or she has a chance to pull a gun or a knife.

If you are willing to step in, the bottom line is you are putting your life on the line…end of story. And if you are willing to put your life and your families security on the line over what would probably end up being a cut lip, broken nose and a bruised ego at most then I commend you. But before you comment, ask yourself…why am I really doing this?

You need to think about these things.

What is the best strategy and what would I really do? You really need to think about your own personal security and look at various scenarios so you have action plans in place.

1. What would I do if I saw a women being beaten up by a man?

2. What would I do if some one approaches my car?

3.  What would I do if I hear someone breaking into my house?

4. How do I approach the load party up the road?

5. What do you do when someone knocks you in the pub?

6. What do you do when someone is rude to you or your partner?

Think about what you would do and how you would react in order to best protect yourself, your family and to ensure the best possible outcome for all.

I had a situation a couple of months ago. I witnessed a man get out of his car and start banging on the car window of a woman…abusing her. I simply walked until I was close enough and just stood and watched. When he saw me he turned and asked me what I was staring at (a little more rudely) and I did not comment, I remained still and neutral just watching with my phone ready (to video, to call police or use as a weapon). He quickly settled. The sheer fact that I was present and watching was enough to settle the entire situation. His innate sense of reason settled him. If I had stepped in, it would have inflammed the situation even more and got very ugly very quickly.

Don’t add to what is already happening. Be still, be close and observe.



  1. Peter B on April 8, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Wow, this is a big question and I can only reply by saying that I “hope” I will do the following:
    – judge the situation i.e. is the man and/or the woman drunk?
    – is he in an extremely aggressive mood and how big/strong is he?
    – are other people around to possibly assist i.e. busy location or is it a remote spot late at night?
    Those are most probably some thoughts I have within a split second. I then “hope and trust” that I would approach the couple (not just the man) and offer my assistance to BOTH of them. Asking them to PLEASE be considerate, to NOT do something which one of them might regret, to TALK with me, to ALLOW me to listen to the problem to see if I can assist, offer them to buy them a coffee to DISCUSS if there is a peaceful solution etc … I for sure would NOT approach them in an aggressive manner and hope to difuse the situation.
    If it get’s ugly and aggressive and the man was to attack me, or continues to hit the woman I “hope” I would have the strength to then step in and defend the woman and myself!

  2. Andrew Fitzgerald on April 8, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    I think I’d approach the man and ask him to stop, I would try speaking in a calm but strong voice in an attempt to get him to calm down, whilst at the same time letting him know I’m not scared of him – this comes across in your body language also. If it weas the only thing I could do to stop him hitting her again, I would use only as much force as I needed to to stop him.

    One thing I’ve found really amazing since I started martial arts is that when I’m in a situation that is escalating, people don’t seem to want to fight me. It’s not necessarily that I believe I’ll easily overcome them etc, it’s more that I’m not afraid of a physical confrontation in the way that I used to be. People pick up on your confidence and it stops them. I think this confidence is perhaps the most effective way of all at stopping violence from ever occuring in the first place.


    Andrew Fitzgerald

  3. Ben O on April 8, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Unfortunately there can be whole back story to two people fighting which you have no idea of. When it gets to Court often the person who interferes/intervenes can be the one who is left worse off, especially if parties to the dispute lie.

    Here is my strategy for that kind of situation:

    a) if the violence is escalating, call the police immediately
    b) from a distance, yell, distract them. Say that you have called the police and that the attacker better stop
    c) from a distance, distract, try and talk to take attackers attention away from the victim
    d) take photos, film on your mobile phone
    e) finally, if someone’s life is in danger, then in the end we all have to make a reasoned adult decision as to whether we want to physically intervene. This will be based on circumstances and personal approach. By doing so you will take some responsibility for the outcome – good or bad

    Finally if it became physical, and if had enough choices, I would avoid hitting the head of my opponent.

  4. Richard Holdstock on April 8, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    It is a very complex question with many variables that may place the Good Samaritan in danger both physical and legal and the situation must be weighed up carefully before action ~ I believe Ben O comments are very intelligent well thought out reasoned steps.

    Watching the numerous TV programs such as ‘Cops’American & ‘Night Cops’ Britain et al~it is surprising how many females who have called the Police because they been asaulted by Husband/Partner/Boyfriend only to attack the Police themselves when Police intervene ~ where would that put an ordinary civilian who has went to their aid ~ yes a very complex question.

    Richard Holdstock ~ Sensei
    Goju Ryu Bushido Karate Academy
    Blacktown City

  5. Rachael on April 8, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    Ben is right. You have no idea what has transpired prior to the event so one must be very careful indeed. Many years ago I was in this situation and yes I did interfere. My interference did stop the man from striking his partner however unfortunately it did transfer immediately his aggression towards me. The man barely withheld himself and I believe it was only the fact that I was a young naïve woman, and in all honesty assumed he would not strike me, so I had no fear, that it worked . I believe if I had been a guy we would have come to blows.
    There are many things to weigh up in a situation like this, but taking it at face value I believe now this is what I might do.
    Place myself so both parties became aware of my presence and that they were being closely observed.
    Observe and merely witness the event being perfectly still and neutral.
    Maintain my distance from both parties and not engage in any way: verbally or physically.
    Monitor and assess, the next step depends on how the two responded to neutral presence.
    Hopefully this would stop the beating.
    If not, well too many variables to hypothesize, but I do know its not me to watch someone get hurt very badly without helping in whatever way I could.

  6. jon on April 9, 2010 at 2:30 am

    My dad stepped in to help a woman up off the footpath in Redfern. Her husband had just belted her in plain view of the public.

    She got to her feet and floored by dad with a roundhouse.
    Then they both proceeded to tell him to f**k off and mind his own business


    • andy on April 11, 2010 at 6:25 am

      Thanks Jon, really shows that we really cannot be sure what we are getting ourselves into. Andy

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  8. Oran on April 17, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Andy,

    I had this exact experience last week. I observed the situation from afar and debated intervening. I was going to the shop to buy milk, my wife and kids were at home, why was I going to risk something so reckless? Ultimately it came down to the fact that I could not watch what was happening. In a street full of people a young woman was almost nose to nose with a security guard. She was obviously distressed and was fighting well below her weight!
    I crossed the road knowing what I was doing, willing to accept the consequences but not wanting to be in that position.
    I had little to do. I approached, kept my distance and asked the girl if she was alright. That was it. Not a very exciting story. There was no fight, and it was never my intention to have one.
    The young lady immediately took the opportunity to exit, the guy suddenly felt it necessary to explain the situation to me. As it turns out it was a road rage incident. I didn’t hang around for the full story.
    I thought about this for a long time afterwards. I always hoped that if such a situation would arise that I would have the character to do the right thing, whatever that might be.

    What I didn’t realize was that doing the right thing was to ultimately put myself in a very dangerous situation. I don’t kid myself that this was a courageous thing to do, it wasn’t. I wasn’t trying to be a hero, and have no illusions as to my ability. However, in making the decision to intervene I became suddenly quite calm. I understood where the situation could go, and I was prepared to address the situation however it worked out.

    I would never have had the strength to make such a choice five years ago, before I joined Northstar. Right choice or a wrong choice I’m not sure? But at least I had a choice, and my training kept me safe.