I bought pepper spray today.
Never, in nearly 21 years, have I felt the need to get any. I’ve never felt like I needed to protect myself. I’ve always been independent, but I’ve always been protected. I’ve always felt safe.
All of that changed with a single email.
According to this email, someone has been hanging around the gates of my school for the last few days. And a few days ago, when a female student was walking off campus by herself in the middle of the day, as I often do myself, he grabbed her. She escaped, and he hasn’t been seen much since. Campus police and city police alike are on the lookout for this man, and it’s unlikely he’s much of a threat anymore.
But the story shook me more than I care to admit. There are many more like him, and she could’ve been me. I value my alone time, and I often walk alone to the Starbucks a block away from campus. But I’m too afraid to do that now. I’m terrified, but more than that, I’m angry. I’m angry that I have to be scared. I’m angry that I can’t walk alone now, that I have to take someone with me or perhaps get stuck on campus because I’m a small young woman and thus an easy target.
I feel like I’ve lost something, like something has been taken from me that I’ll never get back. But I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly. Innocence, perhaps—I always knew this kind of thing happened, but never so close, and never quite like this. It could be freedom—I can no longer go alone where I want and when I want. My sense of security, perhaps—I don’t feel safe alone anymore. Maybe it’s something else, or maybe it’s all of these. Whatever it is, I’ll never again leave without looking over my shoulder at every turn, and that breaks my heart.
I know this isn’t the kind of thing that I typically post, but it’s heavy on my heart tonight. Men, please, strive to be a godly man, a man of character, the kind of man that women don’t have to fear. Ladies, please be careful, for there are all too many that would take advantage of you.