UPDATE: Many of Clutch’s astute readers have pointed out that the video posted below may actually be a prank by Zaida Pugh aka Zaida Waters, who has staged other controversial stunts in the past. If this is true, it’s a horrible prank (even if it was meant to highlight issues of partner violence) that could have resulted in someone being seriously injured.
However, the question at the heart of the article remains. If you encountered what you believed to be a real instance of domestic violence, would you step in? Read the post and leave your thoughts below.
We’ve seen it way too many times. A woman is assaulted in public and no one steps in, citing concerns for their own safety or “staying out of other people’s business,” but somehow they manage to record the assault and upload it to YouTube.
Recently, another violent scene unfolded on a New York City subway train when a pregnant woman was assaulted by her boyfriend, but this time, fellow straphangers came to her rescue.
The video, which was uploaded last week by Zaida Pugh aka Zaida Waters (and may actually be a “prank”), shows the couple arguing while passengers look on. A woman standing next to the couple offers the pregnant woman a seat, but the man tells her, “Nah, she’s going to stand up.”
Shortly after they decline the seat, the pregnant woman tells her partner, “I’m tired of you putting hangs on me!”
The scene only grows increasingly charged as the man seems aggravated by her claim that he abuses her, asking her, “You don’t want me to touch you? Calm down.”
The woman shoots back, “You know what you be doing,” insinuating that however he “touches” her isn’t always in a loving manner. After telling her to calm down again, the woman smushes her partner’s forehead. Even more riled up he yells at her, “Are you serious? Did you just f-cking touch me?” before pushing her by the neck against the door of the train.
Both male and female bystanders leap into action, grabbing the man and stepping between him and the pregnant woman. The scene finally calms down slightly, but not before passengers admonish the man for putting his hands on a pregnant woman.
Once everyone goes back to their seats, the couple continues to argue, and a female passenger near the couple readies herself to step in once again. After the man continues to try to intimidate the pregnant woman, she tells him, “I’m not scared of you. You’re not going to do this to me and my child.”
He continues to corner her, but not before the female passenger who intervened before yells at him, “Don’t touch her! I swear to f-cking God, don’t touch her!”
To that, the man barks at everyone to “stay out of this.”
Thankfully they didn’t. After several more minutes of intimidation from her partner, the pregnant woman slaps him, telling him, “I’m tired of you talking to me the way you talking to me. I am a woman, you’re supposed to be here for me.”
Sensing trouble, the female passenger sheds her bag, hat, coat, and gets ready to help the pregnant woman if necessary. She even stands up and confronts the man and asks him to leave the pregnant woman alone.
After telling the passenger, “This has nothing to do with you, she’s fine.” The man then gets in the female passenger’s face, saying, “Didn’t I tell you to sit down?”
The clip then quickly cuts to the woman telling her child’s father, “I asked you for help and you pushed my hand away.”
He snarls at her, “You don’t need no f-cking help. You’re alright.”
She shoots back, “I’m not alright,” but the man continues to insist she’s fine, adding, “Stand up until we get off the train.” He gets in her face and taunts her, and the pregnant woman pushes him back once again.
After several tense seconds, the man advances on the pregnant woman and appears to hit the train door near her head. A male bystander immediately steps in and wrestles the man away from his partner. They begin to fight and other male passengers step in, beating the man up.
The pregnant woman tries to intervene, continually screaming, “Leave him alone!” while the female passenger who interceded before attempts to pull the pregnant woman to safety. Another female passenger counsels the man to stop abusing his girlfriend and tells the pregnant woman to get help and walk away.
All of the passengers tell the woman that she doesn’t have to go with her partner and that she can get help, but she sobs, “I don’t have nobody!”
The passengers continue to plead with the woman to get help, but at the end of the clip it’s unclear if she has decided to break away from her abusive partner or not.
The entire scene was heartbreaking and difficult to watch, but it illustrates the complicated nature of abusive relationships. While it’s easy for many to call the woman “stupid” for sticking with a man who hits her, untangling yourself from an abusive situation, particularly if you’re pregnant and believe you have no one else to turn to, is a difficult proposition at best, and can feel completely impossible at worst.
According to domestic violence experts, a woman leaves and returns to an abusive partner an average of seven times before finally breaking away. Why? Abuse is about control. The abuser controls the relationship, and breaking away from that control is often extremely difficult, particularly because that control is largely rooted in fear.
Though I’d wager the woman is still with her abusive boyfriend (and I don’t even want to think about what happened to her once they got home), I am heartened by the response of the passengers on the train who interceded on the woman’s behalf several times and refused to allow her partner to attack her without impunity.
While I’ve never had to jump into action to break up a violent encounter between a couple, I’d like to think that if I ever witness a woman being assaulted by her partner, I’d react like the passengers on the 5 train.