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?

Me:  <>

Him:  You live around here?

Me:  Yes

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.

Me:  <>

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. 


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