You’ve probably been there. You’re out and about and you see something that just feels … off.
“Should I step in? … But it’s not really any of my business. … And I’m not even sure they need my help…”
Our gut tells us to speak up, to ask questions, to tell someone. But often, we don’t.
This happened to Malyk Bonnet, a 17-year-old from Montreal, on Aug. 1, 2015. But instead of ignoring his instincts, he acted brilliantly. It may have saved a woman’s life
Bonnet had been having a relatively normal day until he spotted something suspicious on his way home.
He’d been waiting for the bus after a shift at the restaurant where he works when he saw a man and woman arguing. He sensed a red flag.
“The guy was screaming at her, the girl,” Bonnet told CBC News. “He wasn’t really gentle with her, and I started watching, because I thought he would hit her, so I approached them a little bit.”
The pair asked Bonnet if he could lend them bus fares to nearby Laval, a city about 25 miles away from downtown Montreal.
Bonnet felt uneasy about what was happening. But instead of declining, he decided to get more involved. He helped the man and woman with their fares and told them he was also traveling to Laval (which was not the case).
“My plan was to keep them in a public place where he wouldn’t hurt her,” Bonnet told Dateline NBC. “I decided to be friendly with the man and have him think I was his friend. I played my game and he seemed to trust me.”
After arriving in Laval, Bonnet suggested they grab a bite to eat. At the restaurant, he gave the pair $50 for food and excused himself to use the restroom. Finally having the opportunity, he called the police and told them “someone had been kidnapped.” Officers arrived minutes later.
What Bonnet hadn’t known at the time was that police were already looking for the perpetrator and his victim.
The abusive man Bonnet reported had abducted his ex-girlfriend just hours beforehand.
“We were looking for a 29-year-old woman who was kidnapped by her former boyfriend earlier that day,” Laval police Lt. Daniel Guérin told CBC News. “We believed that man was very dangerous.”
Previously, the abuser spent time behind bars for assaulting his ex and sending her death threats.
Bonnet told Dateline NBC that while he didn’t speak with the woman after police arrived, he could see how relieved she was. “We made eye contact and she had tears in her eyes. She was really happy.”
Unfortunately, this type of tragic experience isn’t all that rare.
While this particular story unfolded in Canada — where roughly half of women have experienced at least one incident of sexual or physical violence since the age of 16 — you’ll find similarly alarming statistics in the U.S.