These Are the Moments Women Realised the World Isn't Safe for Them

When I was a 20-year old girl living in Hong Kong, I went over to Mong Kok, a popular tourist attraction and well-known street market where people go and haggle for various souvenir items. This is a place that sold different types of items from the simple to the lovely: jewelry, accessories, cheongsam dresses for women and little girls, wall scrolls, you name it. I went over there when I was done with class and took a train there in with the intent to buy gifts for loved ones back home in Atlanta. It was still not even 11 in the morning yet and the street vendors were still prepping their tents. This area was also close to a large crosswalk across the large street near popular retail stores in the area such as clothing stores, makeup, generally what you expect in an area known for shopping. I remember when I got to the market it was still too early and not even open yet. So I go ahead and make my way back to where most of the crowd was and figured I could browse around the area as I did enjoy taking walks alone and exploring the cities. However, I quickly noticed a man lurking around me and he stared right in the direction behind me as I was walking forward. As I was walking on the bare sidewalk where barely anyone was I just happened to turn my head and glance and I notice that he was walking faster and I can easily remember the sinister, predatory look on his face as if it were yesterday. I quickly get anxious and my gut tells me to turn at a street corner, hoping to lose him. I made my way to blend into the street full of the large crowd of pedestrians and went inside a cosmetic store. Because it wasn’t a normal door you can open and close and more like an open enclosure, I hid behind the columns and pretended to look at products while this man wouldn’t see me. When I felt comfortable enough to step out, I walked over to a nearby sushi bar that I would sometimes frequent during my lunch time while going to classes. After awhile of sitting inside the upstairs floor of the place, I felt relaxed and comfortable knowing I lost him.

Thankfully nothing worse had happened to me that day and even if it was a little over a year ago, I still get terrified of what could’ve potentially happened to me that morning. At the time it was the first time I ever lived and travelled alone overseas and my heart goes out for anyone who has ever had this kind of experience or worse happen to them. I’m telling this story as a preface to a thread I found on the subreddit r/AskWomen, “How old were you when you realized that the world was a dangerous place for women, and what happened to trigger that realization?” Although it wasn’t the first time I’ve had a creepy encounter like this and certainly wasn’t the last, I felt that this narrative fit with the answers from multiple anonymous women that I have randomly selected to share with the readers today.

Warning: These stories may be triggering as they deal with themes of assault/rape, abuse, and violence toward women.

 

 

 

1) “I was 13 years old. I was on a dock at a local lake with some of my friends. There was this older man watching us from a distance that kept getting closer. Before we realized it, he was on the dock trying to talk to us and we were cornered. He got very close to me, and started saying inappropriate things to me. I told him to get away from me. He picked me up, and put me over the water, saying he was going to drop me in. He was so gross. I think he just wanted to touch me. My friend went running for his dad so he put me down and walked toward the parking lot.”

2) “When I was attacked and raped by a stranger while walking in the beach at 7:40am. I had always thought because of my size (6’ tall) that I was somehow safe. Wrong. I was 28.”

3) “When I was in the 5th grade and puberty hit me fast and hard, resulting in me having a woman's body overnight. I would attempt to go to the park down the street only to be followed and cat called by this high schooler.”

4) “I grew up in a kind of rough area, so I've always been aware of how dangerous the world could be for people generally, not just women. I guess when I started getting catcalled at age 10 or so I became more aware of women-specific danger.”

5) “Twelve. Getting hit on by a geriatric man in our church. It gets better. His exact line? ‘My, I haven't tasted young lips like yours in so long!’

6) “College. In my sophomore year I went out with some friends to a bar and got pretty wasted. Some guy started chatting me and up and touching me but I was just too wasted to care. Then all of a sudden I sober up when I realize he was dragging me out to the bar trying to drag me to his house down the block. I honestly had never been so scared in my life and I freaked out and he brought me back to my friends. The whole situation was absolutely terrifying but what made it worse was bumping into him like a month later at another bar. He actually recognized me. He started talking to me and tried grabbing me, but I obviously wouldn’t let him. I just ran to the bathroom and started crying.”

7) “When I was probably 5-6 and my mum would tell me to stay away from one of her uncles because he was creepy. He was apparently a pedophile and would watch me and wants hugs a lot.”

8) “When I was 11 and on holiday. Walking along the beach in the evening, my mum was walking parallel to me but above, at the top of a slope. There were some local boys around my age calling out to me in Spanish. They were laughing and smiling, I smiled back. Then they beckoned me over but I was really shy so I shook my head and walked on. As I passed them one shouted ‘my friend wants to f*** you!’ in English. It was gross and I remember feeling like I needed a wash.”

9) “I was eleven. I was at the mall with a friend, looking at one of those sweepstakes trucks they have on display. An old man with a walking cane, probably in his 60s or 70s, came up next to me and told me he'd like to ‘take me’ in the back of the truck. I didn't know what that meant--I thought he meant drive me around. I laughed nervously and walked away with my friend when the guy kept trying to talk to me. Pisses me off just thinking about it.”

10) When I was about four or five and my mother's brother tried to lure me into a tent and molest me. There were numerous other times throughout my very young years when things like this happened with other males as well. I have an inherent fear for the females in my family because of it.”

11) “Just reading stories and whatnot in my early teenage years. I've been fortunate enough to not really encounter much pushback for being a woman alone in my life, but I've been very careful about not allowing that to color my perception of the difficulties that women at large face.”

12) “I was 12 and walking my dog right after school let out for the summer. A truck full of high school boys drove by blasting music and hollering at me. It’s been 7 years and I still won’t walk my dog alone after that.”

13) “When I was 7 and my stepfather started beating my mom. When I was 12 and a man started trying to pursue me at my mom's church. When I was 16 and an 18 year old told me my butt wasn't small enough and still tried to take my virginity. When at 19 I moved in with my boyfriend and he started to hit me too (I left very soon after that).”

14) “Probably when I was 24 and I moved from a completely rural state to a metropolitan city and it was the catcalls and stares I got while doing absolutely nothing interesting.”

15) “13, the fed ex guy was trying to do stuff with me. It was so weird. Also as I'm getting older I'm noticing how much men don't like women telling them things, especially if you're right. They will run themselves into the ground to prove you wrong.”