how we respond to violence against others

“I went out for a walk with the dog, and my dog ​​was attacked with a barking by another – the same small empty gibberish. His owners loaded the car at the entrance and did not even bother to tie the baby so that he would not run where the car could pass. Seeing that their dog showed aggression, the man (strong and well-fed) came up and kicked him. I screamed in horror that he would not touch the dog. I wanted to grab his dog and run away with him, save him from this sadist. Then his wife came up with a child in her arms and called the dog away. I left in a rage and powerlessness. Maybe he beats his wife too – I don’t know. But I felt so sorry for the dog. And until now, as I remember, it becomes very hard on my soul, ”says Elena, 42 years old.

“Situation: a boy of about 5 years old, roars. The mother rudely yells at him “to shut up,” but does not use physical force. My reaction? At such a moment, I feel stupid. I understand that I have no right to interfere in their relationship. After all, this is not my child. And what right do I have to educate my mother, tell her what is best. At the same time, I understand that the boy now does not understand at all why they are yelling at him. As a result, I still hesitate to say something to my mother, but I am very sorry for the child. In general, the situation is sad, ”recalls Nikita, 38 years old.

We do not always feel that we have the right to intervene. We can stand up for the victim, or we can freeze, and this does not mean at all that we do not care. How we react to scenes of violence depends on our experience. Which side do we take: the aggressor or the victim? And what determines our reaction to other people’s conflicts?

“What we see makes us come into contact with our own experience”

Ksenia Kukoleva, psychologist

Even if the aggression is directed at someone else, and we turned out to be only casual observers, this usually causes a strong response in us. Our emotional reaction suggests that what is happening in some way concerns ourselves. Inside, we “connect” with one of the participants, trying on his role.

What you see makes you come into contact with your own experience, which allows you to experience empathy. At this moment, it is as if we again feel what it is like when we are treated unfairly, and maybe even physical force is used.

How strong and what kind of emotional reaction to a situation will be depends on our experience. Perhaps it is customary for us to rebel, defend ourselves, respond to the offender. Or, on the contrary, “freeze”, fearing to provoke even more violence. Therefore, cruel scenes can cause both a desire to rush to the defense of the weak, and paralyzing horror, powerlessness.

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