Hearing Domestic Violence at a Neighbor’s Apartment
You’re watching TV relaxing after a long day at work when suddenly you hear shouting and doors slamming. The neighbors are fighting again!
What should you do? Do you call the police or go up there yourself?
The answer may surprise you:
Most experts agree that, in most cases, if you feel it is necessary to do anything at all, you should approach the neighbor yourself. But remember, you have the option to mind your own business if you feel unsafe.
Approach the situation with safety in mind, preferably with 2 or more people just to make sure that they are ok.
Calling the police is quite dangerous in these situations because you could upset the perpetrator a lot more and risk having them hurt you. You also don’t know if it’s what the person being victimized really wants. Calling the police could end up in an arrest and a spouse losing their partner, and children losing their parent.
What’s more, when the cops show up, the perpetrator will likely blame the victim and inflict even more violence on them.
So, as long as there are not any extraneous circumstances, such as gunshots, threats of weapons, or the victim screaming “bloody murder,” it’s likely best for you to head over to the neighbors’ knock on the door, and ask if everything is okay.
Don’t Try to Be a Hero
Don’t try to be a hero and charge in or make a citizen’s arrest. These situations are delicate and must be approached as such. Of course, if you do hear something that you gauge as dangerous, like gunshots, you should call 911 and request a wellness check.
Most police departments have domestic violence units, so if you’re unsure what to do, you can always call them and explain the situation and see what they recommend.
Another option is to let the situation die down on its own and wait until you pass the neighbor who was victimized in the hallway and pass along a card with information on shelters and hotlines for victims of abuse. Give them your cell phone number and let them know you’re there if they ever need you. Of course, make sure you place this information on a small and inconspicuous piece of paper, such as an envelope or index card, and not a bright envelope or flyer.
What if I Witness Domestic Violence?
If you actually witness the domestic violence, say your neighbors are fighting at the community pool, the guidelines change. If you can see someone beating someone else or swinging at them, threatening to beat them, it’s best to call the police. In these situations where the perpetrator is actively engaged in violence, it’s best to not approach them as you could put yourself in danger and let the authorities handle the investigation and next steps.
Signs a Neighbor is Experiencing Domestic Abuse
Hearing a verbal argument between your neighbors is completely different from witnessing or suspecting physical violence. It can be hard to know what to do. But, remember these key signs of abuse:
- Extreme jealousy and possessiveness from an intimate partner
- A partner with a bad temper
- Verbal abuse
- Publicly or privately demeaning or embarrassing the victim
- Isolating the victim
- Threats of violence
- Cruelty to animals and children
- Bruises and other marks on the victim
- A victim constantly wearing sunglasses, ball caps, or other things to hide their face
Charged with Domestic Abuse? We Can Help
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.