The Strength to Ask for Help

       “I am going to be okay. I am going to be okay. It is not a big deal, do not overreact.” I was telling myself this as I was walking from the bus stop to class, as I noticed someone following me.

       I was about two blocks away from campus when I noticed a suspicious car following slowly behind me. Out of nowhere, a 30-year-old guy pulls down his window shouting, "what a work of art!" Cluelessly, I looked around to see what he was looking at. Then I realized that the “catcall” gesture was directed towards me.

         All I was thinking while I was walking towards campus was how I was only a block away from the school. “I am going to be okay. I am going to be okay. It is not a big deal, do not overreact.” From the corner of my eye, I could see his van parked, but he was not in the vehicle. My stomach dropped. I tried to casually look around and convince myself  I was making things up or that he was yelling at someone else. Then I realized something. Someone was walking behind me. Thankfully, I got the light to cross at the crosswalk, which is where I dared to turn around. There he was, about six feet tall, slim built, with a rugged look, light skin, and crewcut blond hair. He was holding a gray phone (which made me think he might have taken a picture of me) shouting once again, "what a work of art, what a work of art!"

         I was taken back by the idea of someone saying vulgar comments directed towards me who had the audacity to follow me to campus.  As soon as I stepped foot on campus, I called my best friend. After explaining what happened, she encouraged me to tell the school. I thought asking for help meant  I was not independent or mentally and emotionally strong enough to deal with the issue on my own. However, that was not the case. I was reminded that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather strength. I collected myself together and went straight to the HPU office and called campus security.

       Everyone thinks they know how they would react in a high-stress situation, and most people don’t ever think they’d be put into one in the first place. For me, I have been through similar situations before; however, I was still unable to do anything during the moment. After this specific incident, I was able to take control and stand up for myself by reporting it to security.  I would advise a person who has gone through a similar situation, that the situation was not their fault and that whatever emotions they are feeling are valid, and it is not weak to seek help. I have dismissed sexual harassment before because I felt like there was nothing I or anyone else could do about the particular situation or that the situation was not extreme enough to be given appropriate attention and for actions to be taken. As I was put into a serious situation I learned an important lesson about how to ask for help. There is no shame in seeing a situation as traumatic and asking for help, regardless of severity.