Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Most Vulnerable

Warning: Post contains discussion of sexual assault and trauma. Sexual assault survivors might wish to avoid it. Comments moderation is on.

The trial of a gang of men who groomed and raped underage girls in Manchester has concluded. The facts that all the men involved were South Asian, usually Pakistani, and that all the girls were white British have not gone unreported.

Possibly not hearing the horrifying implication of his remark, a South Asian man who spoke up against the rapists said, "Asian girls are not available to them so they look to Western girls."

Yeah, 13 year old Asian girls are not available to them. Neither should 13 year old European girls be.

But that's not what he meant. What he meant was what he said next: "They [these South Asian men] think they're [white British women are] easy. They think they're tarts just there to be used."

As the rapists were plying their young victims with vodka, obviously they didn't think they were THAT easy. But, again, that's not exactly what Mr Shafiq meant.

What he meant was that the kind of South Asian man who will rape 13 year old white girls with this pals thinks that white women are promiscuous sluts who don't deserve respect.

Sexual Revolution, meet Racist Misogyny.

"He won't respect you," said countless generations of Western parents, and then--quite rapidly, basically c. 1980--many Western parents stopped saying that. The simultaneous eruption of the Sexual and Feminist revolutions meant that men were supposed to respect women no matter what. And, indeed, countless Western men were delighted that countless Western women were no longer so prudent with their bodies and were willing to share without all the bother and responsibility of marriage. Or payment. And, to their credit, most Western men do seem to understand that they should at least look respectful of women, no matter what the women dress or act like.

The rest of the men in the world did not get the memo. And, hey, not all Westerners did either. I grew up in Toronto, and it was not exactly a secret that some Italian and Portuguese immigrants were yelling at their daughters not to dress and act like those "putanas, Canadian girls." They had left Italy or Portugal in the 1950s or 1960s, and so it never dawned on them that "Canadian girls" (i.e. Canadian girls of every ethnic group but theirs) in the 1980s were dressing and acting no differently than Italian and Portuguese girls back home.

Being a "white woman" and "one of those putanas, Canadian girls", I am not exactly a stranger to racist misogyny, the belief that women outside one's one racial or ethnic group are sluttier and less deserving of basic human kindness and respect than the women of one's own.

Women of every race have had to put up with this crap. I can only speak to my own experience as "a white girl", and I will tentatively add that "white girls" have the added burden of being easy targets for those who resent being fish-out-of-water in countries in which they were not born or in which their ancestors did not originate. We also--and believe me, this makes me ill--carry some kind of "status symbol" value, as women of colour quite justly, I think, resent.

Then there's the whole, disgusting "revenge against the men on the bodies of 'their' women" horror that is such a part of pogroms and war. Nobody tells me the worst, but I have heard some "Fleeing from the Russians" stories that made my hair stand on end.

But you aren't in war zones, dear readers, so let's just shudder and leave that aside. Let's look at our current circumstances: most of us reside in countries where men and women of different races and cultures live and work side-by-side. This includes Poland, although whoever said Edinburgh was the least multicultural capital city he ever saw, had never seen Warsaw.

Now, most women are by nature kind, motherly creatures who want to make strangers feel welcome. And in the West we have been told a million zillion times that we are equal in dignity to men and we have been treated more-or-less equal in dignity to men, so it doesn't often occur to us that strangers might not see us that way. For this reason, it is sometimes better to err on the side of reserve.

I have just erased an illustrative anecdote. Maybe I will publish it later.

It is very sad that what to you and me and most of the men we know is just a happy smile and basic friendliness is evidence of utter slutdom to other men, but that is the way it is. So look out.

Conversely, there are men who will interpret our natural modesty and womanly reserve as racial hatred for them and will say so. Now, this is one of the most important things I can tell you, so listen to your Auntie Seraphic when she says, Some men will say ANYTHING if they think it will get them sex. Really. Anything.

If you are trying to discourage a man's attentions and he says, "What, are you racist or something?", either scream at him, if that is your personality type, or leave. Leave at once. A Cameroonian refugee named Simon Mol managed to infect over a dozen Polish girls with HIV. Apparently this charmer used to tell Polish girls it proved they were racists if they didn't sleep with him. (Male Polish student, uneasily: "How is it that you know about Simon Mol?")

The irony of this is that it isn't prudent women who are racists; it is the men who wish to sexually exploit women who are often racists. Men who wish to sexually exploit women go after targets they think are easiest (i.e. most vulnerable) or somehow "deserve" or welcome it, which very often means "the Other." Think of the men who flock to Thailand in droves. Disgusting.

It is terribly difficult to talk about race, particularly when you are white and therefore belong to a supposedly "dominant" group, which is actually, in terms of the whole wide world, a small minority. In Edinburgh, remarks about female safety in light of South Asian racist misogyny take place on the walls of the ladies' toilets in pubs, the safest bulletin board of womankind.

It is also terribly difficult because one of the racist libels used by men to punish vulnerable men of different races is "They want to rape our women." This has been used as an excuse to beat, jail and kill innocent black men in the USA.

However, it is an unfortunate fact that sometimes men do target women for reasons that are as racial as they are sexual and violent, and it certainly doesn't help women to be ignorant of this. And it also doesn't help a woman to think that it is better to risk rape than to be called a racist by some jerk she barely knows or doesn't know at all.

I don't know if there really is any such thing as "race" or if it just a social construct. But I do know that men of any race are bigger and stronger than women, and if they wanted to, most of them could simply kill most of us with their bare hands.

They have been trained not to, of course, and they almost never want to. But the fact remains that they could. So at the end of the day, when all the gentility of civilization has been stripped away, what we have are two human beings, one of who could rape and kill the other just from sheer strength, even though God has always told him not to, just because he is a man and she is a woman.*

As far as I am concerned, this reality trumps every other consideration--race, handicap, age, whatever. If you feel threatened, cross the street. Get off the elevator. Get out of the cab. Leave the room. Lock the door. Yell. Trust your instincts and don't second guess because you are afraid of being called a racist.

*Update: There is some debate about whether or not a woman should physically fight a would-be rapist. The police officer who came to my high school to talk to us about it said to fight, bite, scratch, scream, pee on the man, do whatever necessary to discourage him. For the police officer the most important thing was that we were never dragged into a car. Once you were in the car, he said, you were dead.

My own thought is that rapists tend to go for those they think look most vulnerable, e.g. elderly women, women with Down Syndrome, teenage girls, the intoxicated, the quiet and shy, the fish-out-of-water. And therefore, in scary situations, it is good to be loud and rude and ready to bite, kick, scratch and slap. In a word, to look strong. But never hit a stranger except as a last and desperate resort. Your first priority should be to get away.

Update 2: The lid is certainly off Pandora's box now. Racist misogyny is simply not acceptable, and it is a crime or cowardice to put up with it.


Tara said...

I'm not sure I understand this post. I understand the racism and danger part...but not the rest about erring on the side of reserve and possible misinterpretation of basic friendliness. I think your anecdote is needed.

J said...

Some thoughts from a blonde American currently living in a Mediterranean country, where I clearly stand out as a foreigner no matter how much I try to improve my language skills:
- If someone grabs your wrist, open your hand flat instead of making a fist. It makes your wrist slightly narrower and makes it easier for you to escape.

- For heaven's sake, if you're in a foreign country, be aware of the standards of dress/behavior for women from that country. For example, women here don't wear running shorts when jogging, so you can't wear them and expect to pass unnoticed on the streets. Yes, you have the freedom to dress/act however you want, but you should know what messages you're sending. I always dress modestly, but my first few weeks here I realized that the way I stood outside my building to wait for friends (leaning against the wall, "people-watching") was very similar to the way that prostitutes stood on the sidewalk. Oops! Luckily I never did this at night, but I got enough strange looks from people during the day that I learned to stand farther away from the building and look at the cars, not people. (Note: I come from a small town and hadn't really seen prostitutes out on the street before, so I don't know if this was a cultural difference or just a big city thing. Still...something I needed to be aware of!)

- An anecdote for Tara: I was walking home alone at night (about 3 blocks from the subway stop) and a man around my age (early 20s) asked me for directions. We chatted for awhile as he walked in the same direction I was going. When it was time for me to turn, he tried to lean in and kiss me. I pushed him away, yelled "leave me along" (in his language) and walked away. He said "fine, fine," and luckily didn't pursue me any more. I avoided that metro stop for several months; I'm more ok with it now, but I wouldn't talk with a man like that by myself anymore. Interesting conversations with strangers are for the daytime or when I'm in a group, not when I'm alone at night.

Seraphic said...

Thank you, J! I wonder if such men understand how very seriously women (including "exotic", "Other", Western women) take such things and how much they frighten us. Probably not.

Good for you for keeping safe!

bolyongok said...

Thank you for this post Auntie Seraphic! It cannot be said enough, trust your gut- if you get the creepy vibes get the heck away as fast as you can. Don't ever let anyone guilt you with the 'what, me? I'm harmless'. I let my guard down once and I'm pretty sure it was Divine intervention that got me out of a seriously frightening situation.

theobromophile said...

Um, not to point out the obvious, but you should probably also considering kneeing or kicking a man who is trying to rape you. Aside from the fact that you can inflict much more pain than by scratching his face, you can make it impossible for him to succeed. Sometimes it's easier to use your hands; learn to throw a punch. (My self-defence instructors mentioned one woman, all of five-foot-nothing, who hit one of the instructors so hard that his helmet flew off and he was knocked out. Slaps aren't going to do that, ladies.) Ladylike, no, but being raped is a lot less dignified.

As for men who will say anything to get a woman into bed: yep, they will. Laugh at them, if possible, and if they persist in "you're racist because you won't sleep with me!", simply point out that you don't sleep with white men outside of marriage, either.

Anonymous said...

Seraphic, when travelling in the British Isles I was twice inappropriately touched by different men, and I believe my relatively modest, chaste demeanor and dress in addition to being an American actually partially ignited that behavior. It was during the Races in the country and all of the girls were baring all in micro-minis, low cut satin strappy tops, toppling heels and little fascinators. I wore cardigans and high-necked tops/sundresses and generally demurely refused men's come-ons.

After making an antagonizing comment about my American-ness a local young man came over to give me a "hug". I resisted, and his hands began moving everywhere, in broad daylight, and I eventually composed myself and shoved him away despite my complete physical shock.

Two weeks later, still shaken, another (drunk) guy came over to our group outside as people celebrated the races. After spilling beer accidentally on one of us, he tried to give us all, (girls and guys) hugs. After my previous experience my arms immediately went up to protect myself and my girl friend explained I did not want to be hugged. That guy took my arms, pinned them back against the wall and planted a kiss on my neck. This all happened extremely fast but I then yelled at him and he went back to his friends.

I guess my point is that I think rejection (through general behavior/demeanor, dress, or actions) can inflame a man's desire to gain power over you and overcome your resistance. I believe rape and assault is about the desire for power over women, to humiliate them or show them that what they want does not matter. I believe it is rarely about sexual gratification itself.

Also, as a side note, I have been trained in tae kwon do and know self defense. However, sometimes (as is often documented in criminal law cases) it is not uncommon to go into a physical shock where your body seems momentarily paralyzed. It sometimes takes a few minutes to calm down and defend yourself, especially in supposedly normal social settings where lots of people are around and the last thing on your mind is being assaulted.

Hope this offers a useful perspective.


Anonymous said...

Seraphic, I hope you will understand if I leave this comment anonymously, but I wanted to share an anecdote for Tara. When I last visited France as a 21 year old who speaks fluent and accentless French (I got asked several times if I was from various French cities, which made my day and my French teacher very proud), I went to a student bar with my friend who was living in Lyon at the time. We went with friends from her university (mostly fellow Americans but a few others) and attended a party organized by the foreign students' association. While I was waiting to order our drinks at the bar, I met a drunk French Canadian student who started talking to me. Not wanting to be rude, I listened to his name, his hometown, how much he loved Lyon, etc. He turned away for a minute, and then turned back to face me and began telling the whole story again (so drunk he forgot he'd already introduced himself). I excused myself and went off to meet my friend. Several hours (and for him, quite a few drinks later), he was going down the stairs as I was going up. Without warning, he pushed me against the wall and started kissing me, while trying to shove his hand down my trousers. I am fairly strong and feisty, but he had me completely pinned so I couldn't get away. Not one single person in the bar tried to stop him, or even said anything, and it is only by luck and the grace of God that my friend walked by and pulled him off me. I think this illustrates Seraphic's example because the only interaction I had with this man prior to this was to smile and listen to him introduce himself. Yet he clearly convinced himself that this meant I wanted to be shoved against a wall and kissed. In my experience, girls here (i.e. Europe) are less bubbly and open than American/Canadian girls so men here are much more likely to assume that what you or I would call friendly behaviour actually means 'toss me over your shoulder, I want to go home to yours tonight' so you really have to be careful

MaryJane said...

In light of J's comment, I just wanted to suggest something that came into my mind regarding yesterday's post on travel. That is, travel is a most wonderful balm for a broken heart, but if women are going to be brave and attempt travel in a country where they don't speak the language or know the culture very well, be very very cautious!! And try not to go alone!

Despite the Hollywood-ization of the movie "Taken", I really think it should be required viewing by girls who are going to travel alone. Especially since most of us don't have Liam Neeson for a father who is able to track down the bad guys.

When I traveled in Italy as a college student, the best advice they gave us was to try to do exactly what the Italian women do, look how they look, walk how they walk. I noticed that most of them did not smile or take time to notice any men - they just walked quickly and confidently to their destination.

Traveling can be great, but a woman traveling alone (no matter how old) can easily find herself in dangerous situations.

Sarah said...

This is a well-timed post, as I just today had a middle aged German man follow me around my entire village this afternoon.

The conversation was started innocently enough: He saw me eating lunch at the train station, asked where I got my lunch, and we spoke a bit in German until he said something a bit more complicated and I told him I don't speak German very well, so he asked where I was from, and what I was doing here in Germany. This has been the beginning of numerous conversations with the natives here, and so I felt no reason to worry until he asked where I lived. I instinctively told him I lived in the next town over, where some friends of mine live.

Then he asked where I was going and I said, "Oh...I'm just... out... walking." And I began to leave. He followed, on the pretense of giving me a tour of the village I've lived in for months. I thought I could shake him off by telling him I had to go into a grocery store, but to no avail-- he came with.

Finally, I insisted that I really had to get back to the train station and get home, thinking that if he didn't leave, I could just take the train to my friends' house, hoping he wouldn't actually get on the train with me.

Finally, to his credit, he realized I was scared and left me alone, but I was a bit shaken anyway. My host mother believes it wouldn't have happened in the first place if I had been another German.

I really don't know what I was thinking by not being more rude/insistent. It was extremely stupid of me not to have been more aggressive, because while I don't think he was dangerous (just creepy), if he had been, I probably wouldn't be safe at home, sitting at the computer right now.

Seraphic said...

Heavens, girls! When I wrote this post I was thinking of girls being attacked in their own hometowns by men conditioned to think of them as sluts because of their colour/ethnic group. I wasn't even thinking of poor British, Canadian, Americans, and whoever else abroad! But, dear me!

I am terribly sorry these things have happened to you.

Sarah, you were not stupid. You were just uncomfortable and didn't know what to do in an incomprehensible situation. I'm glad you had your host mother to talk to afterwards.

K, I think what happened to you was just awful, and you are right: men will go after the "fish out of water" and if all the girls are wearing trampy clothes and a girl stands out by wearing modest clothes, sometimes she is the one who is going to get attention--and sometimes not very nice attention either.

I know about the momentary shock because the first time someone ran up at me out of the dark (a dumber than average male friend thinking he'd "scare" me for "fun"), I did freeze. And then I threw my shoes at him.

Anyway, those British men were real jerks, and the booze allowed their inner jerkiness to come through. Don't get me started on British men and booze.

Anonymous in France, my hair is standing on end! What a complete and utter bastard. To be absolutely honest, I don't think you did ANYTHING whatsoever that could even remotely have encouraged even an idiot like him, especially as his memory was already so impaired when you were talking to him. It may even be that all he registered when he saw you on the stairs was "Woman." I am so ashamed that this guy was Canadian, but I suppose there are such jerks in every country.

It goes without saying that the men who forced their attentions on K and Anonymous and France broke the law and deserved to be charged in law and also smacked up the sides of their heads by their mothers and/or friends.

Seraphic said...

"Anonymous IN France" that is.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

I nearly wrote this earlier and then decided to sit on it, but I guess mine kind of bridges the "girl abroad" and "hometown difficulties" issue, because I was actually abroad. It was about a year ago in a large city in eastern Europe were I'd lived nearly two years. In this city there have been racial tensions, mostly focused on ethnicities from a particular area of the country but it also spilled over against central Asians, who often were unregistered (although legal) workers in a lot of low-paying positions. I pass for a local quite well and don't have much of an accent in the language. Friends of mine from church with darker complexions sometimes ran into trouble.

I had gone to a concert after work and as such was getting home much later than I normally would on a weekday night. I lived about 10 minutes walk from the metro but it wasn't on main roads for about 9 minutes of that. I'm also quite short. A central Asian man started walking along with me, and asking personal questions (all local language; I told him it was rude and lied about having a husband). I had just decided to walk past my building into the all night grocery store when he knocked me down... ... It was really really scary but fortunately all I ended up with was grass stains and a bruise or two (and about a week of being really shaky). In retrospect, I would have stayed on a main street in the light, told him to leave me alone, and called someone. Struggling did not get him away; screaming "No!" in the local language did. I also learned I had a huge gap in my vocabulary: I had no clue how to tell someone to leave me a lone, etc. Add that to your phrasebooks, ladies.

I told friends and arranged to call to chat on the phone if I were going home late, or to get someone to walk with me (we were pretty dispersed but my guy friend from church lived on the far side of the same station). He asked if it were someone from that region. Generally I was really glad to blend in; that night, I think it might have been better to have "been" American.

As far as fighting a rapist, I can tell you with sadness that for many years the burden of proof was on the victim to show that it was forcible, and the best way to show that was signs of having struggled (and then courts went through all sorts of horrid analysis of whether it was enough proof or what have you, when of course some people freeze up and can't resist). Thankfully, that's going away as laws are updated to reflect that rape is violence more than sex. Also, I remember in my criminal law readings that there were studies showing resistance usually resulted in greater injuries during the commission.


Anonymous in France said...

Unfortunately, in my first year at university, I accompanied a friend who had been raped when she reported it, and the advice she received was not even to bother pursuing it, as it wouldn't be taken seriously and he would never get convicted (and in her case, he had beaten her badly and we had taken photos). So I knew that the police weren't going to take too seriously my complaint. I did, however, warn my friend to tell the other girls on her course about the looser. Hopefully in his case, and the idiots who bothered K, once the alcohol wore off they felt ashamed of themselves.

Seraphic said...

Nzie, that is just terrible! Thank heavens you got away.

Anonymous in France, I remember reading somewhere that every woman has to decide for herself whether or not she wants to go through with reporting to the authorities. For some women, it helps them heal; for others, it doesn't.

Personally I think an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure, and so we have to be smart and careful and loud and repeat over and over again that men cannot treat women like that and urge the men in our lives to repeat it, too. Men listen to and copy other men. I don't think they realize what a huge influence they are on each other, but they are.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

The then-chaplain and a professor at my undergrad, which had a higher assault rate than average, probably because it has a high alcohol abuse rate, were trying to work with the fraternity council to educate the young men about it. It didn't sink in, he said, until he asked them what advice they'd give their sister if she came to visit. When they started to consider just how much advice they'd have to give to try to keep her safe, it started to sink in.

I read that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted. I don't know if I count for that, but it sunk in for me afterwards. I'd say most of my friends don't know I had that experience - I told my parents and friends in that city, and I've told my roommate here, but it struck me how silent we are. I couldn't just tell anyone, and I'd never ask anyone to, but if we just thought about that, that a group of five female friends/relatives has probably been assaulted - it'd make a difference.

I have 4 sisters. I hope I'm the only 1 in 5 for us. My mom told my next sister down, who's 19, and she or I will tell my younger sisters when they're older and going about without supervision. If I have a daughter, I'll tell her about it and a few things more. I'll say not to try to be polite to people in a situation like that, but to take a firm stance of "Leave me alone" early, to have friends ready to call on walks alone at night, or better, friends who will walk with you. I'll say, "Call me - any time, even if it's late and you've been foolish." And I hope that the many good men in this world are successful in building a masculine culture that respects women.


Just Another Catholic Girl said...

One thing I very clearly noticed on my recent trip to the Middle East was how the men didn’t guard their eyes. I was looked up and down (and who knows what else in their minds) by many men, and it was clearly obvious. I dress very modestly too, skirts below the knee, covered shoulders, etc. It made me feel very very uncomfortable. It made me count my blessings that I was with a group of people. For the credit of the nice Jewish boys, they weren’t part of the unguarded men. I’ve traveled to Asia as well, and I never got looks from them. If guys do this in the USA, they do it much more discreetly.…

You don’t have to be walking down a dark street to get into trouble while traveling alone either. I was in a Catholic Church on my trip and a middle aged gentleman had seen me go from the upper chapel down to the main section of the church, where I got in line to kiss a holy relic. (I noticed him, but ignored him, because he was very clearly staring at me) He eventually wandered over to my place in line and asked, “Would you like me to show you around the church?” SLEEZEY!!! A lovely older woman who was with our group gripped my elbow like a vice and I could of sworn she was ready to beat him with her cane! The minute he noticed her, he shifted off in the blink of an eye. I think I would have been harder pressed to get rid of him if she wasn’t there… The whole thing made me very annoyed, that he dare be lurking around in a Catholic Church.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Still here, sorry - for practical advice in a dangerous situation, SCREAM. I imagine theobromophile's right that a knee to a certain area would be effective, but it's not always possible (I don't think I could have given relative positions), and also, I simply didn't think of it. I also couldn't do much with my arms. Biting was not effective; screaming was. I wish I'd screamed right away. Help, fire, no, stop - all good options.


Lena said...

Sometimes women freeze when they get scared then they feel even worse afterwards because they couldn't fight back when actually their freeze reflex kicked in. Once I heard that what every a woman did - struggle or freeze - she did the right thing. The victims don't need guilt. I guess we can go by statistics if it's proven that fighting is better provided you can fight.

Yes, sometimes a woman has to be rude to be safe.

Urszula said...

All of these experiences sound horrible, but just realizing they can and unfortunately do happen is a huge eye-opener.
I've had my fair share of almost-very-bad experiences too, especially in Southern France. It's not a language issue - I can very well tell a man in French to leave (in a less than polite manner) but that rarely impacts his behavior. One instance involved a man in a car purposely making a u-turn to drive by me and offer to drop me off anywhere and then park his car in a side street and come towards me jingling the keys. I took out a cell phone and pretended to be talking to my boyfriend who supposedly lived around the block and was waiting for me. That, and a pedestrian who started walking my way, probably saved me. I've since then asked a few police officers what I could have done differently and they all repeated the advice in the Update - whatever you do that discourages him (and whatever you feel up to doing) is fine as long as you simply do not end up in the car (or bushes). The second place is where the crime takes place.
In hindsight, I could have taken better precautions and not have walked home at 11 PM on a summer night, but that was the ONE time my Polish male colleagues didn't chivalrously walk us back to the dorm...
My absolute worst experience was returning one Sunday evening (in Lyon, sorry to give it such a bad reputation...) from Mass only to have some creepy guy stare at me on the metro platform. Something felt horribly wrong, especially because he didn’t try any lame pick-up lines, he just stared and smirked. I tried to sit far away from him in the metro (he sat down right across, and stared); I jumped out from the metro as the doors were closing; he jumped out after me. I left the metro, turned a few corners and tried to enter a police station (only open from 9-5 Monday-Friday - what was I expecting, this is France!) When I saw him wandering around looking for me, I hid in a cafe; when I exited the cafe, he was still outside, looking. I walked into another cafe, and said I wouldn't leave until someone helped me or called the police. The waiter calmed me down and walked me home after some 30 minutes.
When I did go to report being followed to the police next morning, the police man very nicely berated me and told me I should never, ever hesitate to call the police if I feel something is wrong in my gut. If you are being followed, they can send a plain-clothes policeman to wherever you are hiding (well-light, popular places like a restaurant are perfect) to escort you to a car which takes a roundabout route to your home. He told me they would prefer to displace themselves for 1000 such seemingly paranoid calls rather than have an innocent person suffer.
What I learned from this is I think a huge take-away for girls abroad who could be in a similar situation:
1) Always know the number for the police. Program it into your phone. This may sound stupid, but after 2 years of living in France, the only thing my panicked brain could think of was 9-1-1.
2) Stay in well-lit places with lots of people. DO NOT lead him to your house.
3) Don’t be shy about calling the police. That’s what they are there for.
4) Try to be alert in your surroundings. I never listen to my mp3 player when on public transit or walking; I know that if I had been distracted, I never would have realized this guy was following me, because he didn’t say anything.
I told all of my female colleagues of this experience and realized more than half of them didn’t know the number for the police either. It is so important to raise awareness on issues like these! And if you are abroad, you should know the basics of self-protection before anything happens, because then your brain goes into default survivor mode.

Med School Girl said...

I recommend reading "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin DeBeck.