Am I going to be assaulted?

I’ve never been raped. In my years as a hetero- and then bisexual identifying person (in my teens and early 20s), I was sexually harassed and sexually coerced by men numerous times, and long before I knew what consent was I definitely had sex without really wanting to, for various psychological reasons. But I have never experienced the horror of having a man enter my space and force himself on me explicitly against my will.

And yet, the fear of having this happen is at the forefront of my thoughts when I interact alone with any man I do not know intimately well.

Someone I used to volunteer with – a white man in his 50’s – came to my house the other day just to catch up. He requested a get-together at my house so he could see my chickens. He’s a nice person and I was happy to catch up and show him our set-up. But we were going to be meeting at my house on a day when I was going to be alone. My wife and daughter were out of town. On the days leading up to our get-together, a dark thought started running through my mind:

What if he plans to assault me?

I had horrible images in my head. As the hours to our visit ticked closer, I became scared. But I also felt ridiculous for being scared. I’d worked on odd projects and had board meetings with this person for a year prior. We weren’t close, but he was really nice and easy to get along with. While I KNEW he wasn’t actually a threat, I also KNEW the statistics around sexual assault occurring mostly in the victim’s home, by people the victim knows.

Our visit came and went, and I was unharmed. He was a perfectly pleasant human who legitimately wanted to catch up and learn about my chickens. And I felt horrible for fearing the worst of him.

But that’s what it’s like to be a woman.

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19 thoughts on “Am I going to be assaulted?

  1. Wow, the very first line of your post shook me.. I know such things happen, but why would that be the first thing to enter your mind? I wont lie, such thoughts enter my mind too, but its more in concern of my kids than me!

    Secondly, why would you invite a stranger to your home when you are alone? Clearly you were not comfortable, you could have said No.

    And finally, while most victims are attacked at homes, you need to remember that your home is where you are the strongest! You alone know where the knives, sharp cutlery and spices are.

    Lastly, since such thoughts bother you, please enroll in a self defense / martial arts class. At least you will learn how to defend yourself to the best you can!

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      • No its not victim blamey, but I am surprised why would someone think of rape when someone comes home to visit . It is not how / “should not be how” most women would think. I do not live under rocks, Ive lived across the world and to be honest, in countries where rape is as common as eating peanuts.
        I am just disturbed by the thought process for the post, all I did was offer some suggestions as a friend,we all need to be careful and watchful, and say No even if it means offending someone.
        The reason i said martial arts is to feel brave, often just the thought of I am powerful is strong and helpful..

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      • By “I thought the same thing,” I meant, “This is a really disturbingly victim-blamey response to a really thoughtful post.” But my reply appears later on, which is confusing. Amy, I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts and your perspective. You’re not alone. When we see the world react to Dr. Ford and other strong women who share their experiences with such disregard, we all fear for our safety. Hugs from afar.

        Liked by 1 person

    • What I was getting at with this post was the challenge of knowing our risk of being assaulted, while also trying not to live life in fear. I have taken self defense classes, specific to defending myself against a sexual assault by someone I know. I spent 3 years working on a research team investigating sexual assault awareness and education among university students. That’s probably why I am so aware of my risk, and maybe not all women are so aware and therefore aren’t so torn between trusting a friend and fearing that same friend. But I do know I’m no alone in feeling an underlying sense of fear in this world, even around people we feel we SHOULD be able to trust.

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      • Thank you, I can tell that your comment was about trying to help me to not have these fears. I think that knowing the facts about sexual assaults (they they are so much more likely to happen in the victims home, perpetrated by someone the victim knows) makes me more afraid than some who don’t know. I used to be more afraid walking alone through a dark parking lot at night, but now I know that statistically I’m a lot safer in that kind of situation than in my own home with someone I’ve met (maybe a neighbour, maybe a family member or friend…). And my research has shown that most young women are still way more afraid in the dark parking lot or alleyway than they are at home. To those women, it may seem silly to fear a friend coming over to your house for a visit. Also, the various experiences women have had with past sexual assault or coersion or harassment change what they fear and why. And all of these different fears and reasons for our fears are valid, and can’t just be removed by taking self defense classes (although I agree, it can help a bit!)

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  2. At a senior age,I think you were quite reasonable in considering the risk. It IS real. Lots of men would never, but those who would are not identifiable by how they behave in other settings. I am certain the thoughts hadn’t crossed your mind when the arrangement was first made or you might have scheduled it slightly differently, things happen that way. This was someone you knew slightly. But the service/repair/plumber/internet provider are just the same issue. They may have badges but do you KNOW their employer checked backgrounds? And, how carefully, remember MOST assaults are not reported, and, if not reported and convicted, no record would appear……..and we have to have these services.
    To not be aware is to live in a fantasyworld. In a country willing to have a self proclaimed “p***y grabber” leader and at least 1 accused abuser on our top court with a second ‘unable to control his emotions accused abuser’ that our Senate is wanting to be on the court……. well. The danger is not abating any time soon……. Not in even my granddaughters and possible great granddaughters lives.
    BE aware. But continue to live a life while being aware.

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  3. We recently had window blinds custom made. They kept screwing up one of them, which happened to be in our master bedroom. They ended up having to send someone to our house over 6 times trying to fix their error (how hard is it to measure something?!). I was organizing all of the re-measurements and install appointments. But, starting with the first appointment before all the screw-ups had even occurred, I refused to take a man I don’t know through my house, including my bedroom. And, even after he had been here multiple times, I still refused to. I organized every single appointment for a time that Mr. MPB was home and would be able to go upstairs with the man. It felt wrong even being in my bedroom with a man I don’t know, and the potential for something horrible to happen was clearly on my mind from the beginning.
    I should add, after I finally called his bosses and reamed them out for everything – 5 months after the initial install and repeat visits, I adamantly refused to be alone with the guy in my house because I knew he might have been rather mad at me at this point.
    But honestly, as long as the person visiting my house is someone I don’t know, I’m always nervous.
    If someone has to come by to fix something like a furnace and in the rare event that I’m alone at home, I always text my husband when they arrive and when they leave. I have even refused to let people in my house before, when I wasn’t aware of their visit – an inspector came from the city once, and demanded to come into my house. I asked for his badge and he “forgot it” so I said I needed to call the city to confirm his identity. He stormed off and refused to wait. Needless to say, I still called the city, it turned out he was with them and had disregarded all their safety protocols. Needless to say I told the city that inspector was not welcome at my house, ever. They sent his boss the next day and everything was fine.
    Long story short, I’ve never experienced any sort of sexual assault, but as a women, I am still very aware of the potential. Simple, as a women,the very fact that I am aware of the potential and take steps to keep myself safe means I live in a different version of the world then many men do. As you say “that’s what it’s like to be a woman.”

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    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience… It’s sad that so many of us share this fear. But, statistically, your awarwness and precautions should make you safer!! I’ve also had someone come to my door claiming to be from some company that required entrance into my home to test the lead levels in my water, because apparently a few houses on my block had extremely dangerous levels. The guy asked if I had kids, and said my daughter’s life was in danger with the high levels and he NEEDED to come in and test our water. But, he had a fake-looking company ID. I refused to let him in. When I looked up the company name after he left, I found it was a scam. A dangerous scam. I am so glad I trusted my instincts.

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      • You just reminded me about a time that I had someone with a fake looking badge try to force their way into my home. I slammed the door in his face. 20 minutes later, someone else came to my door, not thinking much of it, I answered again – it was a women this time. She demanded to use my bathroom and was pushing the screen door to get in, I slammed the door in her face too and immediately called the cops, who came right away. While on the phone I watched the guy and girl get picked up by a big white van and drive away. The cop figured, I was safe now because if they were going to come in, they would have. And two, we had been away for almost a month (amazing honeymoon) and just got back the day before – he figures they had been watching our house for a while and didn’t expect me to be there. The officer told me that our dog was likely key in their decision not to come into our house with me there, because 90lb black dogs tend to be the best security system you can get.
        Needless to say, I am a firm believer that trusting your instincts is critical!! I’m glad both you and I did! And honestly, I have to admit, this is part of why I love having a dog in the house.

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