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Scenario

Last Thursday I (21 year old male) was in my student union as there was a Drum and Bass Event happening. I went out with a fairly large group, about 8 lads including me and 2 girls. We were all having a great time. I was talking to strangers around me and conversing with a lot of different friendship groups. Basically I was feeling very confident in myself and extroverted. I wouldn't say I was drunk but I was on a good high.

Then I notice a very out of place guy walking around checking out the women.

Reasons

  1. He wasn't wearing normal clothes for a night out (eg. trackies/jacket).
  2. He was by himself (not that you can't be in a club by yourself but for a Drum and Bass Event, you'd expect people to be dancing).
  3. We held eye contact for a few seconds and he looked at me dull and emotionless, not the look of somebody having a good time.

I kept an eye on him and noticed that he approached a woman from behind and started groping her. The woman I believe was with one of her other friends and 4 lads which hadn't noticed yet. Now obviously I knew this was wrong and had to do something.

Possible Approaches

  1. Speak to the woman (pretending I know her) and ask her if she wanted to come get a drink. This way she walks away from the guy, without me having to confront him.

  2. Approach the guy directly and tell him that what he is doing isn't cool. This could get me into trouble with him and I would have to prepare for confrontation.

  3. Ask if the girl is okay and tell her friends what is going on. This would be a strength in numbers scenario where I wouldn't have to confront the guy alone.

  4. Go off and get a bouncer without speaking to the girl before hand.

In the end I went with choice number 1 and this worked, however the guy did push me which I expected but I didn't react and just walked to the bar. The guy didn't follow and we didn't see him again for the rest of the night.

What would you say is the best approach for this sort of situation? Do women prefer this approach from other men they don't know or is there a better way for myself to handle it?

Location: In the United Kingdom.

  • 19
    I am curious, How did the women react? I ask because you noted she had four friends close by and none of them seemed to have been alerted. – Jon Mar 25 '18 at 0:31
  • 3
    @English Student "confronting a misbehaving stranger is inherently unsafe". Period. All the "dull emotionless" folkloric psychology tends to obscure that most molesters do not "look like" molesters. – Miguel Mar 25 '18 at 14:46
  • 5
    Please clarify your question. "gropping her" how? Where? How did she react? Was there anything else besides his "dull" look that made you suspicious? Maybe she was enjoying herself and went with you because she thought you were the one who groped her, and the guy pushed you because he thought you're an asshole for taking the girl from him? – Oleg Mar 25 '18 at 23:26
124

Being a clubgoer myself, I commend you for being brave and stepping in for the woman - and I'm also glad to hear that you got nothing more than just a push from that person.

However, I would have to say that what you did was quite risky; the best thing to do in this situation is to tell a bouncer about it. The bouncers then typically find out from the woman whether the man is a friend or boyfriend, and whether his groping was consensual. If she says no, they'll throw him out really quickly. It takes seconds for a team of bouncers to get a situation under control, whereas if you try and take matters into your own hands, you are risking injury and more trouble than is necessary for both you and the woman. Club security knows their job well, and you should definitely utilize this resource when there is a need to do so.

An article on nightclub harassment notes that

it’s against the law to sexually assault anyone verbally or physically — and that includes an arse squeeze. If you can’t see security, find anyone who’s working at the venue and hope that person will notify security.

and that

realistically, most of us aren’t out clubbing on green tea. Even if you’re high or you’re drunk, you can still report harassment to security. It shouldn’t be an obstacle to you reporting. It’s not up to the club to play judge and jury. You should still go up and say what happened.

The most important thing is that

your priority is to stay safe. If you feel like a situation is escalating, speak to security and stay with your friends.

If club security is not responsive, call the police and confidently explain that the situation has not been dealt with by the bouncers.

Source: http://mixmag.net/feature/what-to-do-if-you-get-sexually-harassed-in-a-nightclub/8

  • 12
    Perfect answer. It is essentially the job of the bouncer because a) (s)he can evaluate the situation and b) if the offending person starts a fight, it is obvious that the person is violating the law by trespassing. If you on the other hand escalate the conflict, it can be interpreted as a personal fight between the person and you, marking you both as squabblers. Don't count on that the girl defends you, it is equally likely that she will use the diversion and simply slip away. – Thorsten S. Mar 24 '18 at 14:27
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    My fear is that while he saved this girl, after the guy got away with his saving face shove, he was free to continue scouting his next victim. Once he's got the girl to the bar, he definitely should have told the bartender about him so security could do something about it. – corsiKa Mar 24 '18 at 19:27
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    Thank you for the answer and comments. I should have gone to the bouncers in hindsight but in the heat of the moment, my instinct was just to pretend I know her and get her away from him. I also didn't see any bouncers in sight while this was going on either. @corsiKa I like your comment about also telling the bartender which I didn't think about either. – ChrisC96 Mar 24 '18 at 19:45
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    You need to mention that you risk getting bounced also if there is even a hint that you are involved in some scuffle — i.e. attempting to intervene yourself. Club owners are rarely tolerant of anything like that — could get them shut down. They'd rather just toss the people and then settle it afterwards; most people will simply hop to the next one in urban areas. – can-ned_food Mar 25 '18 at 13:40
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    You are putting way too much trust on bouncers, like they were there to work for the customers. The truth is they work for the club owner. – Andrea Lazzarotto Mar 26 '18 at 22:36
47

I agree with D.Hutchinson's answer, I think you handled the situation quite well.

However, to make your approach more generally applicable, I'd suggest you to step in with your group of friends. I found myself in your situation once, with the big differences that the gropers were two (on two girls) and I am a girl (not particularly strong either), so no brute-force approach available for me. What I did was to rapidly spread the information about the two guys to my group of friends. Immediately after, we surrounded the girls, "casually" enclosing them in our circle while dancing with them. We asked them if they were OK and and told them that they could stay with us as long as they wanted.

Basically, don't go alone. Confront the guy(s) with other people, ideally with a group. In the meantime, one person of the group can go and tell a bouncer about him/them. This way, you won't lose sight of the guy in case he moves.

  • 4
    Great addition to the original answer. This approach would definitely make it safer for everybody involved as the guy wouldn't be as aggressive and would make it more shameful for him too. – ChrisC96 Mar 24 '18 at 19:46
6

If the woman was in a situation she could not handle by herself, for example he was holding her while she was trying to escape or she was sleeping then you should be doing something (be it directly or calling someone else). Otherwise you should let her deal with the situation by herself. From the scene you described seens she was totally capable of dealing with the situation by calling a bouncer or just telling him to get off for example.

If you react too fast you can even end up being falsely accused of molesting women in the case she didn't see who did it.

4

First, good job not just ignoring the situation as most people do.

I've been in a couple of those situations over the years, and typically putting yourself between the guy and the girl without directly attacking him (verbally or physically) works best. There is no perfect recipe, you need to read the situation. Sometimes it is very clear the girl doesn't welcome his attention, sometimes less so.

I would definitely go with a variation of #1, but instead of asking her for a drink - which might put her in the uncomfortable situation of having to deal with two creeps - I would directly ask her if everything is fine, or if the guy is bothering her. Ignore him, talk only to her. Yes, I would turn my back to him even. The risk is manageable in my experience, but your environment might vary. I always considered giving her physical distance from the creep is the most important immediate thing to do.

If this is not enough, it is time to get a bouncer. You don't want to be in a fight in a bar. Firstly you don't know what the other guy is capable of and secondly the bouncers will arrive at the scene with no information who started it, they will down both of you and sort things out at the door.

If you can get a friend involved quickly, without walking away from the situation, always do. If you can't, I personally always prefer to go in over going out and coming back.

This depends a lot on the club and scene and you might see that in the answers. In the clubs I used to frequent (moved recently) I would feel reasonably safe plus I can defend myself enough to protect my vital areas. Other places might be different.

  • I am unable to see this as a variation of #1. Isn't it closer to #3? The point is asking her opinion, not taking it for granted. – Miguel Mar 26 '18 at 12:26
  • As a variation of #1 that I have used myself: I 'mistook' the guy for someone else and asked him a question. (Even just "where are the toilets?" or "nice shirt - where'd you get it?"). The moment he turned to talk to me, the lady in question scarpered - I have never seen someone move that fast in 3" heels before. This gives her a chance to make a choice (stay/leave). – Chronocidal Mar 26 '18 at 13:58

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