T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 108509
posted 10-31-2013 10:18 PM
Hi, I didn't know where else to go to ask this question but your site has been very helpful and amazing, and I don't know how or where else I would have learned all that I've learned here. So hopefully you can help me if this is even something anyone can help with or is even worth helping.
Tonight I was up in my room reading with the window open while my family was downstairs. Then there was a loud thud of a car door opening out in the street and a lot of teen boy laughter that sounded disturbingly like hyenas. They were talking about how they were going to do something, and by the tone it didn't sound good, so I looked out my window which is mostly blocked by a large tree, but I could still see the part where the driveway meets the house and stairs leading up. I watched until a boy (anywhere from 16 to 25) comes up the driveway in a sneaking, very unsettling way while his friends jeer at him to do 'it'. he's on his way into the backyard when he looks up and sees my face, he startles and scurries out of sight (so I don't know if he went into the backyard or not) while whisper yelling something about 'someone in the window' (I was very relieved to know that he didn't see I was a girl, that usually in my experience just eggs boys on) then there's cat calling and yelling and laughing from him and his group near the road. When I look out the window again they start calling and saying 'there's that face'. So I go down to my family and tell them rowdy boys are skulking in our driveway, when we open the door (there are a lot of us) and turn the light on the boys start yelling and race into their car, turn around and speed away. I don't know what to make of this. All I know is that it unsettled me, and maybe it scared me a little, but most of all it made me furious. I just wanted to yell back. The fact that they could see my face, and through my window into my room from the road just disturbed me even more. I don't know why they were going into the backyard. The house was pretty dark, so maybe they thought no was home (break-ins happen a lot where I live but mostly in the summer when the owners are on vacation) or maybe they were going to steal something from our shed (I got a bike for my birthday awhile ago, which was pretty miraculous due to my family's current financial situation, but then that bike was stolen from our shed in a matter of a week) So the answer(s) I'm looking for is, what to do in these situations? How to react or not? How to stay safe? How to not feel helpless just because you identify as female (and I also identify as a lesbian though I try my best to keep it on the down-low)? Just any reassurance or info, guidance or understanding involving possible stalking and/or harassment even in the slightest sense? (this actually doesn't feel that valid now but I still feel like I'm close to jumping out of my skin every time a car passes)
Member # 79774
posted 10-31-2013 10:51 PM
This obviously shook you up a lot, and that's understandable - it's invasive and worrying to have unknown people wandering with who-knows-what-idea on the property. The important things here are that you and everyone around you are safe now, the people left, and it sounds like you were in a place of safety at the time. What you describe doesn't sound like stalking. Stalking, really, is a repeated pattern of behaviour, and this sounds more like a one-off. You did the right things by staying somewhere safe, telling other people and getting their help, letting the intruders know they'd been seen, and making a lot of light and noise. So, for right now, this article might help you out: http://www.scarleteen.com/article/crisis/selfcare_a_la_carte Do you feel able to pick one or two of those suggestions and do them? If you'd like to talk more about any of the other things you mention - like, how to feel more confident, how to stay safe, how being female fits into that for you - we can do that. But maybe we take care of you in the here and now first, and have you feeling a bit better and not jumping so much any more
Member # 108509
posted 11-01-2013 01:48 AM
Thank you for replying so soon. I'm feeling much calmer now and the link really helped. Thank you for being so kind. I think I may have overreacted a bit.
I've read and heard quite a bit of first-hand accounts of harassment and assault lately, of which I have been privileged enough to not (yet) encounter to such degrees. Which I believe put me on edge to begin with. If you wouldn't mind, I'd very much like to know what you would recommend one do to stay safe and feel safe, especially since I feel so vulnerable in my day to day life already.
Member # 3
posted 11-01-2013 07:24 PM
Well, we can perhaps start with what you feel like would help you out? What do YOU thin would help you feel safer, and what kind of things do you think you'd be most comfortable doing in that regard?
One biggie I always suggest -- and I may have bias, since I have both taught self-defense and really enjoyed taking it and training more in it -- is a self-defense class. Just knowing you know things to do, and know how to do them, in a situation where you might need to actively defend yourself can go a very long way per making us feel safer. And, of course, in the event we do need to use it, it can go a long way per keeping us safe.
Member # 108509
posted 11-01-2013 08:27 PM
Thank you for replying, Queen of Scarleteen.
On what would help me feel safer I definitely would love to take a self-defense class (though I've been looking and they seem rather rare in my area). I would also like to know how to act if a situation ever came where it might escalate to requiring self-defense, and to know what to do to possibly defuse the situation. Because at this point I really don't want to be relying on knee-jerk reactions concerning my well-being. Because truth be told, I'm only 15, I've never been harassed past a long, obvious stare or quick catcall but it's been a fear of mine that just builds every time I pass a man who looks or speaks to me in ways I really wish he wouldn't. So if you have any advice for a female teen feeling very insecure in her safety and vulnerable in her gender, it will be much appreciated. (I will also be going into more lone activities soon where I will not have a group of friends to stick to and will be meeting many strangers so if you have any safety tips concerning things such as that, feel free to add them)
Member # 3
posted 11-02-2013 09:57 AM
What, I don't get to be king?
Can you fill me in, when you experience that fear, on where the fear is going to in your head? In other words, what are you feeling afraid of in those moments, exactly? I think if we can start with that, we can probably make the most headway in helping you figure out how to cope. Really, with strangers, our best bet is normally just to trust our gut. Our gut feelings are usually actually very reliable and tend to support our safety well when we pay attention to and follow them. So, for instance, if you feel like someone is following you, you go ahead and trust that feeling, get to a busier, more populated place, and get away until they are gone. If someone feels like they are standing way too close, you trust that and move away. One big part of self-defense that's pretty easy to explain in text is doing what we can to look strong, not vulnerable. So, for instance, when someone is lurking around us, rather than avoiding eye contact, we want to meet and hold their gaze. Rather than walking in a way where we might look timid, we want to walk strong in our feet or legs, stomping rather than tiptoeing. We want to use our words, and use them loudly and clearly when needed: like if we're telling someone giving us the creeps to get away, a clear, loud0ish "Go away from me NOW," tends to work better than a quiet, "Please go away." Make sense?
Member # 108509
posted 11-02-2013 01:00 PM
I can call you whatever you'd like to be called.
I'd have to the say the thoughts aren't often even thoughts, they're emotional gut reactions like anxiety and fear cropping up, and if there is a thought attached, it's usually all the times my family or friends talked to me about safety in very counterproductive ways. They'll sit me down or talk to me very seriously and tell me I have to be careful and the world can be a horrible place, tell me not to go with someone I don't know or don't where we're going, don't walk late at night, don't do this very specific thing that you already know not to do. But they never tell me what to do if a situation comes up that I couldn't avoid. So they leave me with anxiety that one day I might slip up and end up living the horror stories that float like ghosts around my mother (my mother has PTSD but she's never talked to me about it what's caused it, just implied that multiple terrible instances have happened in her life. It's always scared me). So I guess hyper-vigilance, anxiety, and fear are my main issues. I trust my gut as much as I can, and for most of my life that's all I've really had to guide me through difficult situations. So at least now I know I'm doing that right. Also, I know you can't give me a complete guidebook for all things assault, harassment and other bads. But in my case I like to have a plan ahead of time, though I can survive without it. Like, if there's a fire, you get everyone outside and you stay there until a fire truck shows up. It's a bit vague due to the fact there are special circumstances to all fires, but still it covers the important stuff, such as getting to safety and not putting ones self into harm's way. So, let's say I'm being verbally harassed and I'm not going to take it lying down, what are the guidelines of the situation? Yes, it does make sense, Thank you. That's a lot more help than anyone's every really been able to give me in a way that makes sense.
Member # 3
posted 11-03-2013 01:01 PM
Heather works just fine, but I appreciate your flexibility should I ever feel the need for an attempt at world domination.
You know, I think what might work best for what you're asking for here are a few books that are focused exactly on these questions. Happy to recommend some to start with if you like. By all means, being told the world can be a scary place or a dangerous place is sound: it can be. But there's also a point at which, as you have experienced, it gets out of balance, and just makes someone feel very afraid and unsafe. That crappiness -- and lack of reality, as the world often is NOT scary or dangerous, too -- also ironically can tend to make someone so panicked all the time that it, ironically, can actually make them less safe, because it's very hard to see what is actually a danger or potential danger to us when our understanding is that EVERYTHING is. Have you perhaps asked them to lay off with this some, or see about shifting those conversations to practical information about keeping yourself safe?
Member # 108509
posted 11-03-2013 07:27 PM
Always happy to support awesome sex educators, Heather.
I would very much like that! Thank you. I totally get that and it describes how I'm feeling quite well. I've never really mentioned it to them before but I'll be sure to let them know I need equal balances of concerned warnings/reality checks AND support/info, and also not as intense. Thank you for suggesting that.
Member # 3
posted 11-04-2013 11:17 AM
You got it!
So, I like: - Respect: A Girl's Guide to Getting Respect & Dealing When Your Line Is Crossed by Courtney Macavinta - Beauty Bites Beast: Awakening the Warrior Within Women and Girls by Ellen B. Snortland - Hey, Shorty!: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets by Joanne Smith - Girls Fight Back!: The College Girl's Guide to Protecting Herself by Erin Weed - The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker - See Sally Kick ***: A Woman's Guide to Personal Safety by Fred Vogt - Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women by Holly Kearl
Member # 108509
posted 11-05-2013 03:19 PM
Thank you SO much, Heather.
I'm going to track down these books right away and keep my eyes open for self-defense classes in my area. Again, thank you!