One night I was walking home alone. I worked early Saturday mornings and usually left my friends at around 11 or midnight to go home to bed. My neighborhood was pretty busy at that time and I rarely felt uncomfortable–a good cocky walk and a glare was usually enough to keep people at bay. But this one night was different.
I had stopped and gotten a slice of pizza at the little restaurant a block down the hill from my house (ONE BLOCK). I was trudging up the hill, focusing on not dropping my glorious piece of indulgence, and barely heard the guy calling to me. It was the same as usual: “Oh, hey! There you are! Hi! Hey!” I was so used to just ignoring those comments that I didn’t even look up, just kept my eyes on my teetering paper plate and the sidewalk in front of me. In fact, I don’t think I even registered that someone had been catcalling me until after a hand slipped into my eyeline, past my coat-draped arm, and took a big handful of boob. Shocked, I stopped walking and froze in place at which point the CRETIN laughed out loud, stepped past me down the hill, turned around, and grabbed me between the legs. Laughing, he then proceeded on his way, leaving me to stand there, shaking, and impotently yell, “Get the fuck away from me,” at his retreating form.
I wanted to scream at that man. To grab him by his shirt and spit in his face and ask him how he would feel if someone did that to his sister, or his mother. I wanted to tear down walls and throw punches and just explode in anger. I could feel every bit of my being vibrating inside of me, ready to bust out and kick ass. But I couldn’t. It was like he had put me in a straight jacket. I could barely move my arms. I walked feebly the fifty yards or so to my house, walked inside, and called my biggest, baddest male friend. I don’t know why I called him, but just hearing him get so upset about what happened helped a lot. I remember sitting in bed, sobbing, trying to figure out why that had happened–what I had done wrong.
Looking back, I’m horrified that I would even entertain the idea that what had happened to me was my fault–that I had somehow indicated to this anonymous swine that I would be okay with him touching me ANYWHERE let alone the places he touched me.
In the end, there was nothing I could do–I hadn’t seen his face. I made sure I was more on guard when walking alone (god forbid I let my guard down literally across the street from my front door!), and eventually, when the discomfort and panic didn’t subside, I moved to a different part of the city.
I hate it that the lesson I learned–and that my friends learned with me–was to just be more defensive. I could see my front door! We shouldn’t have to feel constantly threatened whenever we step outside. We aren’t worth less and we don’t have to put up with it. It isn’t just something “that happens” that we should get over. It’s horrible. This man took away my sense of safety, of privacy, of self. He stole something from me that was big and important and valuable.