While documenting the lives of a young Ohio couple for a project about, 'the stigma associated with being an ex-convict', freelance photojournalist Sara Naomi Lewkowicz found herself witnessing a heated argument among her subjects that escalated into violence. The harrowing and emotionally raw images that she captured follow a long tradition of documentary photography. Yet, she's also had to answer detractors who question whether she should have intervened.

Below we've shared a few of Lewkowicz's images documenting the conflict between Shane (the former convict) and Maggie, a couple whose late night argument escalated into a scene of domestic abuse. We've deliberately omitted images of the physical violence. To view the portfolio in its entirety, please visit Lewkowicz's web site. We've included Lewkowicz's own captions from the Time Lightbox blog to provide some context to the encounter.

After a night out at a local bar, Maggie left after becoming jealous of when another woman flirted with Shane. Upon arriving home, Shane flew into a rage, angry that Maggie had "abandoned him" at the bar and then drove home with his friend, whose house they were staying at for the week. Maggie told him to get out of the house, that he was too angry and that he would wake the children. Rather than subsiding, Shane's anger began to grow, and he screamed that Maggie had betrayed him, at one point accusing his friend (not pictured) of trying to pursue her sexually.
Around half past midnight, the police arrived after receiving a call from a resident in the house (pictured at right). Maggie cried and smoked a cigarette as an officer from the Lancaster Police Department tried to keep her separated from Shane and coax out the truth about the assault. Shane pled with Maggie not to let the police take him into custody, crying out, "Please, Maggie, I love you, don't let them take me, tell them I didn't do this!"

In describing details of the eventLewkowicz notes that once the situation turned physically violent, she confirmed that another witness had called the police before she continued shooting. In addition, she has been told by law enforcement officers that physically intervening, 'would have likely only made the situation worse, endangering me, and further endangering [the victim]'. It's also worth noting that Lewkowicz received approval to move forward with publishing these images from the victim herself, 'because she feels the photographs might be able to help someone else.'

The goal of documentary photography is to bring personal stories into public view, often with the aim of affecting societal change. What would have been your response in such a situation?