“…I’m very protective of my body. I do not want it violated or killed.”

An awful incident occured just a few minutes away from campus, in an apartment complex where I’ve often partied through the years, and where a lot of my friends have lived/are living.

The story made me think about a sociology/criminology class I took the summer after my sophmore year at Duke. We focused mainly on violent crime, and the professor, an old veteran of the discipline, related many grisly stories of women mutilated and killed in their apartments and home around the Triangle area. This was the class that made me start locking my door the minute I got inside my aparment.

Of course, you can try to minimize risk, but nothing is 100% perventable. This is why I so hate the gabbing that begins whenever a woman is sexually assaulted: “Oh, she should have done this.” “She should have stayed home.” “She should have worn her burkha.” And so on.

Locking your door at night is important, but sometimes, especially if you plan on going out again, you can easily forget. There is no foolproof plan to avoid being attacked.

Just last week, I took the dog out for an evening stroll on one of the forest trails. Le Boyfriend had a late class, and I felt sorry for puppy, since she was cooped up in her crate for most of the day. She’s now at that age where she can handle that sort of thing, but she is clearly a working breed mix, and needs all the exercise and play she can get. Off we went.

It was early, very early, according to the clock on my mobile phone (can’t afford a new watch. Would someone please donate?), but the weather was souring. The clouds meant that it was getting darker quicker. By the time puppy and I were making our way out of the forest, I could hardly see the path.

The trails are usually full of joggers, dog-walkers, and other assorted non-threatening folk. But that evening, the forest was empty. I did not encounter a single soul as I made my way back. I was frightened. I kept thinking that if something happened to me now, people would blame and shame me.

Puppy was her usual jolly self, and sensed no malice in the darkening woods around us, which gave me hope. Although she’s still pretty small, she is a good guardian. I doubted very much, however, that she would be in any position to protect me if someone jumped out of the undergrowth. Dogs can be a deterrent simply based on how loud they are, but I didn’t want to find this out the hard way.

I made it home safe, but I was still afraid. I double-checked the lock on my door. I turned on all the lights and made myself a cup of tea. My little spoon was clanking around in its cup. Puppy sat on the balcony and kept watch on the neighbourhood, and I sat next to her, and all the while, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there had been someone watching me in the woods, and that I got lucky.

Chalk it up to a rabid imaginaiton. Or common sense. Or both.

10 thoughts on ““…I’m very protective of my body. I do not want it violated or killed.”

  1. This is the kind of thing that terrifies me now that I’ve got a little girl. And anyone shaming the victim here is being a hypocrite. Not only do most people not immediately lock their doors once they get inside, most people wouldn’t have the presence of mind to get to there bedroom and lock the door like this girl did. She probably saved her own life.

  2. Funnily enough, I do have a skinny wrist, but you’re much too kind. Le Boyfriend promised to buy me a cute little watch. It was supposed to be a birthday present, but times have been lean. Thank you so much for the offer!

  3. If it’s hurting you to look at it, I’ll take it off your hands. I mean, if you just want an excuse to give the thing away, I’ll be your woman… But you have to promise me that I will owe you a favour, because otherwise I’ll feel bad.

    You can always donate it to someone in your area, if sending it to me is a hassle, btw.

  4. No, one cannot prevent 100% of attacks from happening as long as there are people in the world who are willing to commit them. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but I don’t think that everyone who looks at the victim of a crime and says “she should have done this or that” is necessarily trying to make an excuse for the perpetrator of the crime or is blaming the victim. Sometimes it is a defense mechanism for ourselves, because we can imagine ourselves in the same situation. By recognizing an action that the victim could have taken to avoid that particular set of circumstances we elevate how we perceive our ability to get out of it above our perception of the victim. It helps us deal.

    Anyway just my opinion, I certainly don’t blame victims but I do try to recognize what steps they could have taken as a learning experience for myself. People really don’t lock their doors right after going inside? I am a male living in a relatively nice area and I always lock my door directly after entering my home. Not just to cut down on my chances of being a victim of a violent crime, but to cut down on the chances of theft, as those crimes are often crimes of opportunity more than anything else.

    You are right to trust your instincts, I am glad you made it home safe and sound.

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