Being a girl means being terrified. It means being terrified of walking home alone. It means being terrified that someone is going to assault me. It means being afraid of the dark and what it can hide. It means being afraid of meeting strangers. It means knowing which stores are open on my walk back home so I have a safe place to run to should I need it. It means walking with my mace at the ready. And as much as I know this, nothing prepared me for the fear I felt last night when some guy started following me home.
After having a fun night out with friends, I left the bar around 1 to make the trek back to Brooklyn. I made it to my stop and walked to my usual exit. There’s a bar there that’s open late as a safety option. I passed a group of guys and thought nothing of it. I kept walking down the street, past a market that is open 24 hours (another safety spot). As I walked, I heard this man start yelling out to me.
“Ma’am. Ma’am. Ma’am.” He kept repeating.
I didn’t turn around. I picked up my pace.
“Ma’am, I need help. I was just robbed.”
No. You weren’t, I thought to myself. And even if you were, you wouldn’t come to me for help. What am I going to do for you? If you don’t have a phone, there’s a 24-hour market open two feet behind us.
“Ma’am, I wouldn’t go that way. Five guys jumped me.”
I began to walk as fast as I could. I armed myself with my mace and I pulled my phone out to dial one of my best friends. She answered and talked with my the rest of my way home. I scouted out the other open establishments knowing that I might have to pop into one. I kept hearing footsteps so I don’t know when he finally stopped.
When I swiped into my building and finally opened my door, I collapsed on my bed in a heap of tears. Tears for getting home safely. Tears for fearing for my life. Tears for being followed. Tears for being harassed.
The sad thing is, this isn’t a one-time story. I was followed once before when I was back in college. And I know so many people who this has happened to. So many people who had it worse than I. The world is a scary place, and we’re just doing what we can to survive.