Experiment Shows Most People Ignore Even Outrageous Domestic Abuse

In this video, only one of 53 witnesses defends the victim.
Nov 16, 2014·
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

The odds are dismal enough: One in four women you know likely has or will become a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. But here’s something even more distressing: Most witnesses of domestic abuse don’t intervene.

At least that’s what a small experiment in Sweden found. In this video, a male actor pretends to hurt a female actor in an elevator. He appears to shove and grab her head as he angrily screams profanities. Most people just look or turn away and leave, even when the man threatens to kill the woman. One witness says, “I’m here too. Please let me get off first.”

According to the video’s producers, only one of the 53 people who entered and left the elevator stood up for the female actor.

“If you touch her, I’m going to call the police,” says one woman.

To be sure, the experiment is small. But just like the recent Ray Rice controversy, which the NFL initially handled much like the witnesses in the video, it opens a necessary conversation about domestic violence.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln last month put a price tag on domestic abuse. Their findings show that North Carolina spends more than $307 million each year—including medical costs, incarceration expenses, and loss of life—on domestic violence. In New York, authorities say domestic abuse has been driving more people to shelters. They estimate that it accounts for 70 percent of public housing crime. All of which is proof that on any level, not enough is being done to prevent such violent incidents.