June 9, 2007

Dis-illusionment

I reread my post True Colors and the comments and I realized that the weirdo at the pond was not my only brush with danger from strange men. It is chilling to realize just how at risk women and girls are in this society, the world, just for being women.

When I was in my senior year at IU, 1986, I lived off campus, way out near the stadium. I often had my roommate's car because she constantly worked, but this night I was walking. I walked through a dark neighborhood of small quiet houses. As I crossed a small street, I noticed a Suburban coming up to the stop sign from my left. I was still in the street when the man in the Suburban said out his window, "M'aam. Get into the car." My feet kept walking, I refused to turn around because I feared that he'd have a gun pointed at me and I'd be caught in a decision that I didn't want to make.

I began to run the two blocks to the tiny Village Pantry. He pulled away in the opposite direction. I ran into the store and asked the cashier, a lone girl herself, if I could use the phone. I did not want to continue walking. My path would become even more desolate before I'd reach home - a railroad overpass, a dark park, the stadium parking lot. She told me, at first, that she couldn't allow the public to use the phone, but when I told her what happened she immediately obliged. My roommate came and picked me up.

When I got home, I told my roommates all about it and they told me they'd heard about this happening to other girls. I called the police to tell them, but they never did send someone out to get my story. Later that week, the man was caught trying to lore another female down near a big recreational lake in the area. He had a gun.

There was another time when I worked in North Philly and I was followed from my car by two men. I ducked into a little market and milled around and they came in too. Finally, they moved on and my W.I.C. office opened (and by that I mean the metal chainlinked wall in front of the front window and door was unlocked and rolled up) and I went to work. I didn't work there long. My father was so afraid for me at that time and I just didn't understand why. Surely nothing could happen to me! Despite the fact that a woman had been raped at knife point in front of another W.I.C. office in another part of the city - at 12 noon.

Not until I was much older did I put together the facts. I had been possible prey four different times in my life. At the pond, at my home, going to work and at college. And these were all sort of risky situations - a desolate pond, at home alone at night as a child, working in a "bad part of town" and walking home alone in the dark. These were not shopping at Target in the daytime. Who knows how many times we're at risk that we never even notice? I was truly under the illusion when I was younger that the world is a safe place and these things only happen to the proverbial other people. I tell these stories, thinking that perhaps all of us women should relay these stories to our children and our sisters. Not to create fear in them, but hopefully, dis-illusionment.

2 comments:

rosemary said...

I have told my two horror stories to all of my kids...boys as well. I was actually grabbed on a busy street while walking from behind...never saw the guy coming. I tripped on the sidewalk and managed to whack him good in the face and started screaming...he ran, I chased him...wrong thing to do. The police scolded me. Sad times when we have to tell children these things.

Paul said...

Speechless.