“There are two kinds of fears: rational and irrational- or in simpler terms, fears that make sense and fears that don't.”
― Lemony Snicket
Note: There may be some triggers in this post. If you have triggers, please don't read this. If you don't know what a trigger IS, you're probably safe to read it!
I am not a fearful person. I have a tendency to leave doors unlocked, windows opened and curtains...well, who needs 'em? I am all too aware that the dangers we, as women, face are often not from strangers but from the men who are a part of our lives.
- According to the U.S. Office on Violence Against Women, one in four women have experienced severe physical violence at the hands of someone they know.
- The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 4.8 MILLION physical assaults and rapes occur against women annually.
- Women who were sexually victimized as adults are more likely to report a history of childhood sexual abuse, according to a research study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice.
When I was in college, I went sunbathing on a hill just across the street from the campus. It was a place where we sunbathed often but this time, I went alone and I went after just about everyone had left campus for the summer. I relaxed in the early summer air and I minded my own business while reading a book. At some point, a man came by. He was friendly and smiley and he asked me directions to Cameron Village. I pointed the way and explained how to get there on foot. As I talked, he moved closer. Thinking nothing of it, I continued my explanation until I realized he had actually pulled his penis out of his pants. I stopped talking and he took over, telling me exactly what he intended to do. I don't remember his exact words now, but I do remember my reaction.
Disgusting Man: And I'm gonna (vulgarity, vulgarity, expletive, expletive)....I reached back for my shirt to find some cover for myself since I was (obviously) feeling increasingly uncomfortable. The vulgar man grabbed it out of my hand and told me I wouldn't be needing it. At that point, I crab-crawled backward as fast as I could, stumbled to my feet and ran as quickly as my bare feet could carry me across the street. I was shaken and slightly nauseous but I did get away from him. He was a coward and we were in a public place. He didn't follow me but ran away in the other direction.
Me (smiling and friendly with his personal business in my face): No, thank you!
Disgusting Man: (Continuing his litany of vulgarity)
Me (still smiling but shaking my head, in a very friendly fashion): No, thank you, really. No thank you.
Disgusting Man: (Vulgarity, vulgarity)
Me (smiling broadly): No, really. No thank you.
Other experiences have haunted me more than this one because they were at the hands of people I knew, but this is an example of how quickly and easily a woman is victimized. I don't want to be afraid. I don't want to feel like I have to walk in groups. And I don't. I go everywhere alone. Sometimes I go at night. Sometimes I go in the MIDDLE of the night. I refuse to live in fear. Most of my friends say I am not living fearlessly but stupidly.
I want to trust people. I do. A couple of incidents happened just this year, however, that lead me to believe that people simply (sadly) cannot be trusted. I won't go into details of either incident but, suffice it to say that I felt violated by both. My trust was misplaced and I was deeply saddened by one incident and frightened by the other. Both have led me to believe that I need to make some changes in my behavior and the things I do to protect myself.
What do you do to feel safer?
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