Step. Back. Think. - Fact Sheet
Step Back Think is a group trying to
prevent one punch resulting in shattered lives
Dave Mitchell was a typical 19 year old guy. He had just
started his apprenticeship in carpentry, loved playing footy,
and hanging out with his mates. On what seemed like a
regular night out with his friends, Dave's mate fell into a dispute
with another guy who told him to "come outside".
Dave followed his mate out of the pub to "play the
peacemaker" and try to diffuse the situation. He was then king
hit, fell to the ground and had his head stomped on,
not once but three times. Unconscious, Dave was dragged
across the road to safety by his mates who then called an
ambulance. Soon after Dave arriving in hospital, Dave's family
received a call from the hospital asking them to come in as
he was unlikely to make it through the night.
Miraculously, Dave pulled through but when he woke surrounded
by his family, he had security remove them as he did not
recognise them. His injuries were so severe that it
took Dave over a year to physically recover from
his attempts to break up a fight.
Dave describes his rehabilitation like "being born again" -
he had to learn how to walk, read, cook, make his bed, and had
to get his licence back. Had this tragic event not happened,
Dave might be qualified as a carpenter and might still be
playing footy. He misses this interaction with his mates. Dave
relives that moment every day, replaying it in his mind, but
feels lucky to be alive today.
If Dave could say one thing to people, he would say "just
think... could this punch end this person's life, and what
will happen to you? Is it worth it? Is that going to get the
matter resolved, over a drink being spilled, or a
girl being pushed? Will the punch actually resolve what
it's all about?"
Dave lost two years of his life, and he's one of the lucky
ones. His attacker is serving six years in prison. Both young
men offer a tragic example of how easily young lives can
be derailed by street violence. If you want to meet Dave
and see his full story, visit:
Effects of alcohol on the brain
HOW TO STEP BACK & THINK
So, what are the steps you can take to reduce the likelihood
of getting tangled up in a situation which could turn violent?
First, it is important to recognise the warnings
signs within yourself. As humans, our bodies give us a
variety of signals that indicate that we are getting angry or
"wound up" before we become physically violent. Similarly, it
becomes equally important to recognise the warning signals in
other people too. Here are some tips on what to look out
RECOGNISE THE WARNING SIGNS
Recognise the warning signs in
- Increased heart rate
- Sweaty palms, tensing of muscles
- Feeling hot in the neck and face
- Feeling irritated or anxious
- Losing your sense of humour
- Feeling like striking out verbally or physically.
Recognise the warning signs in
Their body language:
- Red face and neck
- Tensed muscles (clenched fist/jaw)
- Hostility, glaring looks
- Encroaching on your personal space.
Verbal aggression comes first! In almost every case,
aggressive tone, shouting, or yelling will precede physical
aggression. Recognise these as warning signs and then act.
Remove yourself from the situation by walking away,
distracting yourself elsewhere, or suggest to your friends
that you change venues.
Act early! If you leave it too late, the situation will only
escalate and get out of hand.
What if someone else becomes aggressive toward you?:
- As long as they are in an aggressive and aroused state
they are not thinking clearly, so trying to diffuse the
situation with words is only likely to provoke them more
- Step back, do not react/challenge/provoke/argue because you are
only adding fuel to the fire
- Use friendly and open body language (e.g. hands up, step
back) rather than provocative or defensive gestures (e.g.
crossed arms, fist in air).
WHAT IF MY FRIEND IS GETTING INTO
Flip the tradition of "got your back mentality" on its
head, and instead of flying the flag, you can make sure you
protect your mates by keeping them away or distracting them
from a situation that could explode into a punch on.
Pull them away from the situation and suggest you move on to
a new venue/new area, or calm them down by taking them outside
for a walk or for something to eat.
Will fighting this person resolve the issue? What if you or
he is seriously injured? You could face life with a brain
injury, or time in prison.
Having a criminal record may stop you from getting the job
you desire, or entering some countries, is it worth it? Will
you even remember what the argument was about in a weeks'
Our brains are unable to think rationally when we are in
this state or 'emotionally charged' so your thoughts and
feelings are likely to be exaggerated. As long as you or
another person are in this aroused state, no words
will resolve this issue.
ALCOHOL FUELS VIOLENCE, SO
Alcohol exacerbates our feelings of aggression when we are
out, so whilst it is okay to have a few drinks socially,
drinking in excess is more likely to result in a violent
When we drink alcohol, we are effectively altering our
mental state. We all respond very differently to alcohol; some
become happy, some sad, some silly... and some aggressive.
Most importantly, alcohol disengages the rational part of our
brain that helps us make thoughtful and well-guided decisions,
and our "emotional brain" takes over. This is why
many people say or do things they might not normally say
when they are sober.