The Bystander Effect

Sad Greetings to the Ladies Jane —

If the news report is accurate, a woman in her 20s was raped, in broad daylight, in front of hundreds of people, yesterday afternoon in a Spokane, Washington park.

No one stepped in, even though “Witnesses reported seeing her struggle and attempt to get away from the male several times.”

Local NBC affiliate KHQ reports that the incident occurred at Riverside Park approximately 1:45 PM, and that the perpetrator was reportedly a 53-year-old panhandler.

If hundreds of people watched, then it’s safe to assume that there were women, just like us, who stood by and let this happen. A remarkably similar case in the mid-1960s prompted the first social psychological research into this phenomenon, the Bystander Effect, in which the herd mentality diffuses personal conscience and responsibility to the point of eradication.

I am outraged and disgusted to the level of physical illness. I guess this means my normal mantra of “People are really good at their core” simply doesn’t apply to groups.

How do we make sure that we’re not a part of the herd? That we don’t ever stand idly by, silently waiting for someone else to take the lead, while another woman is assaulted?



Middle-aged, life-long Texan with a substantial chip on her shoulder.

Posted in abuse, law, news, rape
2 comments on “The Bystander Effect
  1. Jane Doe says:

    Wow. I've not seen anything about this but I try to stay away from the news on my family days. I am sickened right now. I absolutely CANNOT understand how such a thing could happen. How could one not step in and try to help this woman. I KNOW I would have. I have in the past.As for your question, it's a good one. I don't know how we can do such a thing. Maybe TJP is a good starting point. Women coming together for the sake of being together and helping our gender move foward…

  2. Riot.Jane says:

    I cannot understand how, more than 72 hours after the attack, the national news media has not picked this up.

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