What Would You Have Done?

It haunts me all the time, thinking back to the day I strolled down 3rd Street Promenade. Was I the only one who noticed? The poor bruised child scared out of her wits? The heavy tall robust man clutching her arms as they briskly walked past me?

Often times, people say we have this bystander effect where we believe that though there are misfortunes and tragedies in this world someone else will lend out a hand rather than ourselves helping out the unfortunate. It’s a social psychological phenomenon, it’s a mistake, and it’s what I’ll have to carry with me as a burden because I swear what I saw that chilling afternoon wasn’t just a regular day on the promenade.

I so want to believe that there is an altruistic good left in our world. I so want to hope that with all the human cruelty that persists from day to day, there is still a small pool of decency left in us. A spark that barely flickers in our tainted hearts. I regret that afternoon. I know it wouldn’t be my business and I, myself, could have been put in danger of the man with blood thirst eyes but I could have saved a young girl from her suffering.

To paint a better picture, here is what I remember from that day-

I was strolling down past a few pedestrian shoppers near 3rd St Promenade when I saw a young girl with a face that had looked like it’d been brutally assaulted. The inflammation of her most recent bruising stuck out like a tumor near her cheeks. Different shades of purple were displayed across her face that trailed up to her eyes. The moment we crossed paths felt as though a lifetime of pain was shot into my eyes as I saw her sorrows manifest the air. In those brief few seconds I noticed her raggedy clothes, her sniffling nose and sounds of a whimper as if she were choking back tears. She was dragged along by a man tightly gripping her arms. He looked like a menace. I so badly wanted to halt, turn around and question her distress, but what were they doing in broad daylight? If she was being tortured or even raped, would the kidnapper really bring her out in public? Biting my tongue, I shook away the crippling chills that pricked at my spine and turned the other cheek.

There is no happy ending to my passage down memory lane. In fact, there isn’t even an ending at all. But I do linger with the question…

If you were to brush past the two, would you have the humanity to stop them? Or would you have surrendered to bystander’s apathy… the way I had and am now disturbed by my own lack of action?

 

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2 thoughts on “What Would You Have Done?

  1. During my sophomore year in college, I rode a bus going to university and noticed a woman about my age who appeared she had just wept. Beside her was a man perhaps in his 30’s, lookin upset. The woman had her hand on the man’s thigh. “A couple.” I thought. I had just moved to Manila from the UK and still learning the language and yet I knew that when the man spoke, the more stressed out his companion became. When I politel asked if there was a problem, the woman turned to me with pleading eyes. That was all I needed to tell the woman to move to a different part of the bus, which naturally angered the man. He looked intoxicated. When the woman got up, hematomas on the woman’s arms and left cheeks became visible. The man stood up and I pushed him back in his seat upon learning he was reaponsible. I was ready for a fight and told the bus driver to pullover for a cop to intervene. Never taking my eyes off the man, I asked him of he would consider hitting someone who can hit back. Thankfully, he stayed put. 2 policemen who happened to be across the street entered the bus, escorted the the man off the bus. I accompanied them to the nearest precinct, gave my statement, confirmes by the woman, who happened to be the man’s girlfriend, who had been a victim of her boyfriend’s jealous tantrums for years. Jailtime for the bastard followed immediately. I was late and missed my prelims but it didn’t matter. Being able to help mattered more.

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  2. Hi Kane,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story of courage and valor! Your experience was just as terrifying as mine but you stood up for her and helped when you could.

    I think a part of me will always feel regretful when I think about that day, but I take it as a lesson learned and realize that I can lend a hand when needed.

    Last year, my upstairs neighbor was crying all night, pleading her bf not to hit her anymore and you could hear the terror in her voice. Immediately the next day I reported it to the condo manager and then made a statement to the police. I’ve yet to hear what happened to the couple but I do know they moved out after scaring other neighbors. I truly hope she’s in a better place now than with him.

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