On Being Harassed
This is what I looked like yesterday – not attractive in the least. My pants are too short, my “badge of honor” sweatshirt isn’t fitted at all. But it was enough to have me harassed at a level I’ve never experienced. And I’m at the point where enough is enough.
Let me paint the picture for you: it was about 11:32 a.m., there was a break in the rain, so I took the dogs out – left the house and started walking on the sidewalk (in front of an elementary school) of a four-lane road. I’m walking at a quick pace because my 14-pounder likes to walk the edge of the sidewalk – and this makes me very anxious as cars go about 40 miles per hour down the road.
A car pulls into the median and the driver, a young man starts yelling at me.
Immediately I felt uncomfortable. I can’t remember his exact words – but he was saying sexually explicit things at me. I pointed to my ear and shrugged, “I can’t hear.” My lie didn’t stop him. He persisted. I repeated myself.
He pulled off and I was relieved – until I saw him pull onto a side road. He got out of the car – crossed five lanes and came right up to me. I grabbed to dogs’ leash even tighter and sped up – but he was in front of me.
In hindsight, there were many things I could have done, but this is how it all went down:
Him: You live around here?
Him: You live around here?
Him: You married or got a boyfriend?
Me: Yes, married. Three kids. This is my alone time.
Him: Can I get your number or something?
Me: That’s not appropriate. I’m married.
Him: You are so fine.
Him: You don’t want to know the things I could do to you. I could make you feel so good. Why you walking away?
I hurried into the closest neighborhood and out of sight – texted my brother right away. Logistically, there was no safe way to get back to the house without going to on the main road where he was. I pulled the dogs and made turn after turn – watching over my shoulder.
By the time my brother called (about two minutes after I texted him my location and told him what I was doing), I was still upset. We live in a fine suburb and this guy was aggressive.
I work downtown, in a very rough part of town. I’m used to the “catcalling” and panhandlers. But this lingers with me.
As I thought about him all I could think was that I’m not the first one he’s approached. I won’t be the last – and I’m sure his interactions will escalate.
“He’s five people away from an abduction,” I relayed to my sister-in-law. Because think about it – abductors don’t just start as abductors. They start as harassers. Trust me. I watch a lot of Forensic Files, 48 Hours and Dateline NBC.
I am a kind – too kind – person. My guard is always down. Even with my quick steps and two dogs, I was able to get away. But what about the younger people who aren’t?
I am posting this because if I, a 41-year-old woman (who usually looks way better) can get harassed on a suburban street, what’s to happen next? What if I see him again? Will I be quick enough to attack him if he tries anything? I was too focused on getting away that I didn’t even think about getting his license plate or car make/model. And you know the dogs were of no help.
We don’t ask to be treated like this. We ask that we can enjoy a walk with our dogs during a rain break.
Please stay aware of your surroundings, train your dogs to be mean (our lessons start tomorrow) and listen to your gut. I’m proud that I was quick enough to get away, because I know not everyone is as lucky.