Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Is there something I should do when I hear domestic violence occurring across the street, rather than call 911?

+3 votes
There are people who live across the street from my place of work who I have called the cops on a few times. Each time it was out of concern for their safety. After a while of yelling, if it begins to sound more physical (loud crashes, shit breaking, a body thrown against the window, yelling and a woman sobbing) I called 911! As an anarchist, calling the cops rubs me the wrong way, but I don't know if there is anything else I could do without putting myself in danger. I cannot put myself in danger, or even leave the group home I work at, without endangering my clients.
asked Aug 22, 2011 by anonymous
edited Aug 23, 2011 by dot

1 Answer

+2 votes
first, i know this situation sucks. i have been in it myself.
there is no perfect answer.
the best ideas i have come up with include things like
a) putting up information on violent relationships, available services, self-defense classes, etc on flyers around the area, or in pamphlets in local cafes, laundromats, etc. obviously this is so that the people involved can find it and use it to help themselves.
b) trying to speak to the person who you think is the most receptive when (if) you see them on the street (speaking to them as non-judgmentally as possible, about friends they might have who might help them -- assuming they want help -- or what they think about their relationship). this is extremely unlikely to be helpful, unless the timing is really lucky, or unless you have the opportunity to actually get to know them. hardly ever happens, i expect.

obviously none of these things are options to interrupt an actual violent event. interrupting something is a lot more difficult than trying to keep it from happening again. and without knowing the people and their situation, interruptions are extremely unlikely to be helpful in the long run.

good luck. i know it's a hard position to be in.
answered Aug 22, 2011 by dot (57,810 points)
Also Bob Black provides some interesting anecdotal ideas about "anarchist self help" in his “Wild Justice” essay. http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/bob-black-wild-justice

Of course "Crime as an Anarchist Source of Social Order" is a much more general topic than domestic violence (which is often complicated by a various types of dependance e.g. financial, legal, domestic arrangements). Yet the fixed sedentary domestic arrangements of every day people make for certain vulnerabilities and only those aware of the specifics within a given terrain and context will know what those vulnerabilities are. This does not necessarily mean that the best plan of action would be to target an aggressor's person or property. "....Certain people may have to be beaten into polite behavior, but for others, persuading, mocking, shaming or shunning suffices. There’s no reason why an anarchist society can’t reduce overall social control as it eliminates legal social control entirely..."


It may be best to try to build a base of localized anarchist culture via outreach (see dot's answer above). I know folks hear have more experience with that sort of activity than I do and that there are usually problems of effectiveness and/or a fetish for mediation processes. Yet perhaps the point hear may be to gather intel on the aggressor's life and living arrangements so as to better decide on how to act upon the problem the violence poses for all involved. It may also be decided that no action is feasible or desirable since every circumstance is different. It just depends on the specifics.

What can you tell an anarcho-communist who gives lectures about the oppressive capitalist system and all its coercive institutions yet he beats his girlfriend, fractures her nose, sends her to er, and then coerces, convinces her to trust him again, and again, and again?  Of course, she is in such awe of his politics that she will not call the cops on him.  What to do?  The girl is my daughter!!!!!! help!!!!!

i don't think that the politics of your daughter's boyfriend make any difference in this scenario. abusive relationships exist throughout society. the issues are a) does your daughter understand she has options, b) does your daughter believe she deserves to not be hurt in relationships, c) does your daughter have other kinds of relationships with people who will be there for her when/if she wants to leave him.

i myself would work on giving your daughter information about intimate violence and abuse. sometimes seeing how other abusive relationships have worked helps to clarify things for people.

i would also try to live with the reality that if she gets something out of the relationship that she values so highly that she wants to stay in it, then that is her choice. all others can do is make sure that she has the resources to leave if/when she wants to.

but that's just me.

also, counseling for you and others who care about her could be helpful. it can be traumatizing to be near people who are being hurt, and that doesn't help you help them.
Thank you --

one other thing. it might be possible to talk to her about caring about him and his ability to be in intimate relationships without hurting people. ie, it is possible that if he agrees he doesn't want to be treating people this way, then perhaps he could be in therapy (not with her, probably, but on his own), and that would make his life significantly better as well as hers. so she would be expressing her concern for him through working on this with him.

if your daughter sees that as a reality, then that might resolve some issues. 

but it is also possible that she doesn't see their fights as a problem. she might -- for example -- appreciate the clarity of physical fights.

very hard to understand these things from the outside sometimes.

...