To be clear, this is not a situation where it is an abusive relationship. This was an interaction that took place in an impromptu manner in a public setting.
I was relaxing at an outdoor area in a local open air shopping mall, when a group of four late teens/early twenty-somethings stopped near me and began taunting someone about their assumed background and intentions based on the clothing she was wearing and skin tone (Appeared to be of Arab descent, wearing a hijab).
They didn't appear to be physically violent, their rhetoric was mainly along the lines of associating her with terrorist acts and asking "how soon before you snap?" and similar. The lady was clearly uncomfortable and refusing to engage in conversation, which seemed to encourage them to provoke some sort of reaction.
I did intervene in the conversation, choosing to talk the group directly in an attempt to get them to stop. Abuse was transferred, and even though I used moderated tones and non aggressive postures, they didn't appear willing to back down at all. Security came by and escorted the group away, so the situation was resolved.
However, is there a better way to intervene in a situation like that? Is there a way to defuse a situation such as this without the risk of escalation?