Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

24 September 2009

My privileged nose & reporting a slap to a baby

Tonight we stopped at a store and as we were heading to the check out lanes, we saw a family enter the store. I had noticed them because the baby in the cart was crying. I always try to give the parent/caregiver a "been there" smile. But as I watched a man with the baby, the mom came walking up and then it happened. He slapped the baby.

My heart sank.

The mom jumped and tried to get between the baby and the man. I assume it was the dad, but her "don't hit my kid!" gives me a bit of doubt. But then again, there are times when I refer to our daughter as "my daughter" or "your daughter." Hmm...But the man and mom starting arguing with the baby between them. My husband took our daughter away from the scene (thankfully somehow she saw none of it) and I asked the couple to please take a moment to cool off. Of course he shot me the "mind your own business bitch" look.

My heart was racing. He was clearly pissed off at the baby, her and now me. But I was leaving.

So I stood in the check out line going back and forth. Do I report this? What if he explodes again in the store? I should warn security. What will that do to her?

Sometimes knowing why women stay in violent relationships and how messed up the justice system is makes it hard for me to "do the right thing."

But I did. The cashier got security and I alerted them to the situation.

As I walked out with my daughter's hand in mine, I thought maybe I totally screwed her. What if's went thru my mind. Then what if I showed her that someone else cares about her and the kids? What about the smile I threw the older child trailing them?

I did what I thought was best. I couldn't not do something. I just hope it was the best for her too.

8 comments:

There's no way to know, but erring on the side of caution can't be that bad.

If you had done nothing, you'd be kicking yourself for not taking action and not standing up to the jerk.

You gave the mom a chance, if she wanted to take it, to stand up for herself and her children. You can't control whether she took that chance or not, or allowed it to become another excuse for him to hit her. Since she was yelling at him, perhaps she was angry enough to tell the security officers what was going on, and do something about the abuser.

I hope that, if I see a similar situation, I'm brave enough to do what you did.

Just because he hit the baby doesn't mean he has hit her yet and doesn't mean that he will. But you saying something to her and then to the security guard could mean that she feels validated and supported. And if a complete stranger will support her, why won't the man she's with? even if he isn't the child's father, he should be supporting her, the mother, his partner. I continue to be proud of you, m'dear. As someone who has witnessed too much abuse and felt helpless, thank you. Each voice that gets raised is a step in the right direction.

I was at Disney World when I watched a man pull his wife's hair and continue to hit her in the face as he dragged her out of MGM. I was sickened and followed them out...hoping to at least distract the man. I said, "Hey....Stop that!" and he turned around and said, "Bitch, she's going to get beat whether or not you do anything....but she'll get beat worse if you dont' shut your mouth and move on...." I said, "I'm not letting you go anywhere with her..." and I almost peed my pants as I said it. Luckily a security guard came up..separated them and one of the other guards was called in and they waited for the police. I have no idea what happened....other people must have seen it happen....I just wish that I had had more strength to actually DO something. Its such a fine line...he was probably right....he probably would have beaten her more (or did after the police were done with him) if I had kept at it....but I just felt SOMEONE should stand up for HER. Thanks for sharing your story...and thanks for going out on a limb.

Saying something and getting security was absolutely the right thing to do. For safety reasons you do not want to put yourself in the middle (ask my friend Jack who trains people on safety.)

We had a similar situation over the summer, we were at a restaurant with the kids downtown - couple with a kid came in and I just had a "bad feeling" - my friend always says to "trust" your instinct. Biggest mistake women make is ignoring this instinct. I went to the restroom and heard banging outside the door. The man had pushed the woman against the wall and was banging on the wall yelling saying all sorts of profanities (my impression he was going to go with his buddies who were hanging outside... also instinct said this was not good) The woman looked scared - their daughter who was sitting nearby - was frozen.

I walked by, gave the woman a look that said "I will get help" - as I walked back to get someone, another man said "sounds like trouble" and went back while I alerted the staff.

Again, I don't know what happened because I quickly got the family together and had them leave.

But, at least we let someone know - and as we left it sounded like things started to calm down and the woman and man, along with their daughter (who had run to her parents) - came away from that back area.

Sigh. So scary - but you want to first notify someone. Second, not expose your children to the situation, but if they ask - you can say that you did something to help.

Thanks all.

I feel like what happened to Amy - That there is a chance that help can be turned into another excuse for hurting a woman. And considering that you just never know if a woman is being abused or not, I tend to err on the side that she is. Perhaps too extreme?

It's fucked up to think that abuse in one person's home can be used to silence me too. To silence us by the fear that our caring will turn into more violence.

Thanks.

I agree. On the other hand - what if knowing that someone else also thinks it is not okay may give her courage. You don't know. Horrible in any case.

Having been there, I always wondered why people don't speak up more. In hindsight I joke that I once had the worst neighbors ever. The only college kids renting a house in suburbia. Why didn't someone call the cops when they could hear us fighting? Why didn't anyone ever help me when I was scared, crying, and half dressed in the rain in our street?

You did the right thing.

Here from the Carnival. Great piece.

You did the right thing no questions asked. If this provokes him to violence he was going to be provoked any way. At the very least you made it clear to her that people out there think what he did was wrong and she can incorporate that fact into her own world view. At best he might take the intervention of security as message that he has to manage his emotions.