About a week or so ago, I experienced something I never had before. The outcome of this experience was not something that caused me any permanent damage. In reality all that happened is some random man screamed in my face. But the more I think about it the more I realize that this was not just some shitty altercation. It was something problematic.
Let me rewind and start from the beginning. It was a day that would not have stood out if not for this one exchange. I had just finished my morning workout class, taken my car in for service, and was running some errands. I wanted to run by Target because I needed one thing before heading home, just some masking tape. As I drove on the road in between the store and the parking lot, I saw a man and woman waiting for the cars to go by so they could walk across to one of the other stores. I was still driving and they were waiting. That is until I was right upon them, when they suddenly darted out in front of my car for no reason. I had no stop sign and there was no pedestrian walkway so they were jaywalking. I did not hit them. I was not even close to doing so. They threw up there hands and yelled at me. I threw up my hands back. Then I drove on.
That would be the end of the story one might think. But it wasn’t. I went to park, and after I got out of the car I saw the man coming towards me. He had come to find me. I immediately felt threatened because he immediately flicked me off and screamed at me, “You stupid fucking woman. Fuck you. This is for you,” as he flicked me off. He repeatedly called me a stupid woman as he got in my face and threatened me. I surprisingly managed to keep my cool despite the fact that a man towering over me was standing there screaming and threatening me. I kept walking and told him about three times to leave me alone. Then I told him if he did not leave me alone, I would call the police. He started walking away from me then, screaming the whole way.
People were around. No one did anything but watch, or worse, pretend it wasn’t happening.
I went into the store thinking I might be safer in a public place as I scrambled to get that one item that had brought me to the here and now. That’s when I got concerned. What if he went back to my car? What if he slashed my tires? I moved faster. I looked around before leaving the store. I didn’t see him. So I made a mad dash for my car, still in shock. I got in my car and drove away as fast as I can.
That’s when I started to feel overwhelmed and it hit me how terrified I was. How my heart beat so hard in my chest that I thought it would burst.
I looked at the time and realized my boyfriend was done work but he would still be there and he was close. I made a b-line for his work.
As I stood there on the waiting room I crossed my arms, trying to hold myself together. The two girls at the desk asked me if I was okay that’s when I fell apart. I told them what happened through tears and they rushed to comfort me. While one of them went to get my boyfriend, the other rubbed my arm and told me that, despite what I thought, this was not stupid. That what had happened was not okay. It was harassment. She wanted me to call the police.
As my boyfriend held me while I calmed down, he told me I was okay but that what had happened was not.
That’s when I realized. It was not okay. He had harassed me. Belittled me. Threatened me. Me being a 5-foot-nothing, 100 pound girl. It was harassment. And it was not okay. It was not my fault. He had not put his hands on me but that didn’t make it any less legitimate.
Women, or any person, should not be made to feel unsafe, no matter what. Period. End of story. No one should feel the terrible way it made me feel. And no one is any less than anyone else.
I learned a valuable lesson. That is not okay. I didn’t do anything wrong. And next time I will call the police. Just because it’s a hassle doesn’t mean the person should get away with it, because they will probably do it again to someone else. And if I see it happening to someone else, I won’t look away awkwardly. I will stand up and get involved, just like I wish someone had done for me.
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