Flashpoints and Violent Encounters
5 year-old Mary was worried. Her boyfriend would be home any moment and it was time to confront him. She knew he had a criminal history but this? It couldn't be. Her 6 year-old from her first marriage, Jena, had told her that Rolf touched her "down there". So it was time to confront him, at home, and get to the bottom of things.
While this scenario is based on a real case and the same kind of thing happens all the time, let's pretend we can stop the action and rewrite the story.
The Problem: Mary is failing to realize is that she is creating a Flashpoint. A Flashpoint is any moment or situation where there is the potential for violence. Flashpoints aren't necessarily something to avoid, but they are something to manage.
Confronting the boyfriend may be the right thing to do, and maybe there will be a good explanation. But what if there isn't?
When you can see a flashpoint coming or even if you are going to create the flashpoint, it's best to plan it out. Some ideas for Mary include:
1. Do it in a public place, such as a restaurant, with lots of people around.
2. Call 911 and ask for a "civil standby". This is where an officer comes during a potentially hostile interaction such as a separated partner. If you articulate it correctly, most police departments and officers will do this. However, it can't be done to support one side or the other, merely to make sure no violence or illegal activity occurs.
3. Consider just believing your daughter and kick the guy out. At the end of the day, whose more important?
In the actual case this is based on, the boyfriend reacted violently, beat Mary, stabbed her several times with a knife, set the home on fire, and made a run for it. She survived but only by pretending to be dead. Fortunately her daughter was not there when this happened. The actual Mary is a kick-ass survivor hero, who now knows something about flashpoints.