πŸ’₯Atomic Essays

Short-form lightly edited, lightly structured essays, written in 30 minutes.
Published on:
June 20, 2024

πŸ’œ Getting Through Unfortunate Safety Events at Night

In the past year, I've endured two terrifying experiences of being stalked, threatened, and assaulted at night after religious meetings. The first incident occurred in Europe, where I was stalked and assaulted on more than one occasion. More recently in New York City, I was again stalked, threatened, and assaulted - this time by someone who seemed to take issue with me simply existing in their perceived "territory."

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These traumatic experiences have opened my eyes to the heightened dangers women face at night. There seems to be an increasing pattern of aggression and inability to handle rejection, whether from individuals whose advances are rebuffed or those struggling with mental health issues and lack of emotional control.

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It used to be that if someone's advances were rejected, they would simply move on. But now, more people seem willing to lash out with verbal and physical violence if they don't get what they want. Gone are the days when an ignored catcall or turned-down phone number didn't trigger a volatile, potentially violent reaction.

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Just last Wednesday, I was coming home from our religious meeting when a man who had been waiting for me on Wednesday nights confronted me. He became angry and threatened me when I refused to give him my name, even making a gesture around his belt that insinuated the use of a gun.

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I had already expressed to my family my unease about coming home alone on Wednesday nights, given my past experiences. A neighbor assaulted me in 2020, and then again last year after I hadn't seen him for years. Every occasion was at night - I've now had issues with at least three people who assaulted me after dark.

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Then yesterday, following my family's advice to take a different route home to avoid the stalker, I encountered more trouble. Someone aggressively confronted me, yelling and charging at me, telling me to get out of their corner and territory. They pushed me, told me to go back to where I came from, and warned me not to come back to the area. The situation escalated quickly, leaving me confused and frightened.

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I'm left wondering what I'm supposed to do. I have to go out on Wednesdays; it's the only night of the week I have this commitment. One solution I've used before is taking a taxi home, which can get expensive but might be necessary for safety. It's frustrating because it feels like there's no solution other than staying home, and being out at 9:30 PM shouldn't be considered dangerously late.

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As I processed these events, I realized this is unfortunately the world we live in, and things might get worse before they get better. The best we can do is learn how to react calmly and continue living our lives. After multiple incidents, I'm learning how to move forward when these things happen.

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I've developed a strategy for dealing with these situations:

  1. Process it by acknowledging what happened.
  2. Take steps to prevent similar incidents in the future.
  3. Use calming routines to settle your body and mind, such as drinking water, doing breathing exercises, or meditating.

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This routine helps me cope with unfortunate events. While I hope not to need it often, I'm sharing it in case it helps others navigate similar situations. It's worth noting that these incidents aren't isolated. Just yesterday, I learned that a friend, also a Black woman, who is married, was assaulted last week. It makes me wonder if there's a rise in attacks on women, particularly women of color.

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In some cases, especially when being stalked or directly threatened, it's crucial to report incidents to the police. Being in my own country with security cameras everywhere provides more opportunities to properly document these events. We shouldn't be afraid to report harassment, stalking, or assaults. Having an official record can help prevent further incidents.

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As women, we should be able to walk home at night without fearing for our safety, but that's not our current reality. By processing what happened, making prevention plans, practicing calming routines, and reporting incidents when necessary, we can try to regain some sense of security. Ultimately, the key is to continue living our lives while doing what we can to protect ourselves during these challenging times.

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