In each situation, for various reasons, I knew calling the police wouldn't help. They would show up late and punish the victims for existing.
So, many times, I've stepped in.
But when it's more escalated...
If the aggressor leaves now that I've put a big obstacle between them and their target, awesome, it's over.
Often, though, the aggressor is baffled for a second and then explosive.
In situations like this, I put my body between two people, stand in an active stance, loose knees, keep my arms up but in a non-aggressive posture (usually in an X across my chest).
If they hit me, I repeat the phrase.
In a situation where both people feel endangered and are escalating from a place of fear, two interveners is even better!
I've never had a knife or gun pulled on me, though I have had bones broken. You run some risks.
And in exchange, you can literally save someone's life, or make a woman feel safe again in a club, or help a woman connect to a DV shelter and get out.
If it gets too heated for short phrases, I revert to "Okay."
I learned how to set a pick from basketball. I learned how to fall good from snowboarding (don't stick your hands out, protect your joints, cushion and roll). That's it.
I just know how to stand in the way with my knees bent.
Getting in the way is the first step. The rest is about trusting your instincts and acting with moral clarity.
Tapping into that truth can help you lead that person toward deescalation.
I don't know why I thought to ask the aggressor if they felt safe. But the answer surprised me. And them. And they dropped the weapon after answering.
Judgment can come later. In the moment, you want to calm things down.
But for people with a body like mine, this is something you can decide to do.