I have never told this to anyone TW violence

Today is a weird day.

I’m questioning my ability to be a decent human being.

I pride myself in thinking that I am a generally good person who knows what’s somewhat right.
I’d do ANYTHING for the people that I love. I’d die for them.
I think I’m an okay person, morally.

But today I’m questioning all of that.

Years ago when I was actively suicidal (I’m okay now) I kept telling myself I’ll die a “heroic” way. Like while protecting someone or something stupid like that. I put myself so much into the background and believed that I don’t matter that I thought it’d be the easy choice to sacrifice myself for a stranger.
Logic, I know…

I was a stupid kid with an unrealistic expectation and hero complex.

Anyways.

I fantasized about different scenarios in which I’d step in if someone needed help.

Then, one late afternoon when I was on my way home from school, I just have been 17 or 18, i saw a couple walking down the street in the other side of the road. I had a bad feeling about them. And then it happened. This guy started punching his girlfriend/wife/whoever this woman was to him. He pushed her against a tree and started hitting and kicking her.

I wanted to do something but I was so scared.

Luckily an ambulance drove by, saw it and stopped to go in between.

That was almost 10 years ago now and I still hate myself for not doing anything to help this girl.

I have never told anyone about this. Not even my therapist back when I was in therapy.

I know it can’t be held against me for being a scared kid. And it was probably the better choice as a teenage girl to get in between them, a grown man in rage. But it still haunts me that I should have done something.

I needed to finally tell someone. Even if it’s “just” on here.

I know I need to forgive myself. But every once in a while I have those days where I question everything and today is one of those.

I know this girl got help that day. But I feel like I failed as a human.
Physically I probably could have gotten him to stop. But then what?

I know I should let it go. I’m trying.

Maybe finally telling someone about it will help.

I’m sorry I was scared.
I’m sorry I didn’t help.
I’m sorry I didn’t do anything.
I’m sorry my hero complex wasn’t big enough.
I’m sorry I walked away.

I still feel very guilty.

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I’m really hoping that you can forgive yourself for being a scared female teenager in a situation where you could have been seriously hurt. That you cared then and ruminate on it now shows that you have a kind heart, which the world needs more of. I suspect if the ambulance hadn’t stopped you could have & probably would have called for help. In general I have heard it recommended that you should only watch and verbally intervene. That by itself often has a positive effect on the situation. Unless you are sure that you have the training & physical ability to handle a violent person, two people might have been victims that day. I was bullied a fair amount as a teen and I fantasize about what I would do if I saw that happening now. I know that I would make it clear that I was watching them and say something but risking getting hurt… I’m not so sure. I encourage you to show yourself the compassion that you express towards others.

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It was not your fault, @fiji. You could not expect to witness something so awful. It’s the type of situation that we are never really prepared for, and it’s only human to respond to this with a freeze reaction. It’s shocking to see something like this, and the fact that you were scared made you feel paralyzed. It’s a human reaction. Nothing to ever blame yourself for.

I think, in those scenarios there’s an ideal vision of ourselves that we have, then there’s how we actually react. One way or the other, we just do as we can at the moment. Your words here show how much you cared and still care for this person. Your reaction was not a fault, my friend.

When I was little/young teenager, we heard in our street a woman crying and screaming at times during a night. It started during the evening and lasted during the night. I don’t remember it in great details, but I do remember how scared and panicked I felt. And my parents did nothing. I was shaking heavily and remember wanting to call the police for this person - we didn’t know where she was - but couldn’t get myself to it. I’m 31 now… and I still think of her atimes while feeling the knont in my stomach. I feel guilty and ashamed for the lack of action from my parents, the fact that we didn’t talk about it the day after, and the fact that I didn’t push through and called the police. My sister told me not to, and I was so scared that I didn’t need much to be convinced of not doing it. Truth is, I only realized recently that I was reliving my own traumas at the moment, without being aware of it. I have known fear that paralyzed me, and my body taught me that this was one of those scary situations again. So I froze.

There are reactions we cannot control. Would it be because it echoes to our own story or the way we learn to survive in this world. No matter what, we are not to blame. It was not your fault, friend. You absolutely deserve to forgive yourself. <3

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to this.
In my brain I know I’m not blame, but the rest of me feels guilt at times.

It’s been so long since and I feel like I’m only now starting to get over it.

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Hi fiji,
I am sorry you feel so guilty about what had happened. It feels like you have a form of survivor’s guilt surrounding this situation. I feel like you experience a tremendous amount of regret not having done something to make the situation better despite being in direct vicinity, and this sharply contrasts with how the ambulance made an attempt to make the situation better despite the victim not being the intended target. Do you feel like you compare your idleness in this situation to the heroic acts of the first responder in the ambulance?

I am happy to hear that you care about your morals and wanting to be a morally good human being. I am commending you for taking the time to reflect on your actions and how they relate to your morals. However, it is unrealistic for any human being to think they would be morally perfect in any scenario. Do you think a police officer on his first day on the job would be willing to charge into a store filled with armed robbers? Do you think the first responder in the ambulance would have helped if it was his first day on the job? Similar to how Rome wasn’t built in a day, these people likely had to develop their ability to charge headfirst into dangerous situations. In fact, these people likely felt similar to how you feel now: oh I wish i could have done more, or I feel extremely guilty. But the fact of the matter is that it is not your fault for not helping the woman because that is naturally how humans behave when faced with stressful situations. But with training and practice in real situations, you can learn to charge headfirst.

Although this experience brings about a lot of guilt in you, it could be a powerful motivator for you to help those in need in the future!

Hope this helps!