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.