I have to be honest, I was wholly overwhelmed by the response to my last post… so much so that it’s taken me a few days to digest all that’s come my way since I wrote it eight days ago. I’ve received multiple emails and phone calls, and I’ve lost count of the number of messages I’ve received through facebook and my blog. People I never expected to read my blog briefly stepped out of the shadows to express concern over my being followed home last week.
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind–I never expected such a… strong reaction to what I wrote. For me, writing down the events in detail was my way of walking through it again and processing what happened. I needed to relive it to remind myself that I was okay, and that it could have potentially been much, much worse. I needed to write it down so I could get it out and move past it, instead of pretending like nothing happened. I just needed to vent.
As your responses began pouring in I was so… overwhelmed by it all. I suddenly felt like what I had thought was a bad afternoon was an absolute disaster, and truthfully, I felt even less safe as the “what if”‘s poured into my inbox. You see, I already have the biggest imagination there is… another reason I put it all down is so I wouldn’t go there–I am a champion at the WHAT IF?! game and I thought that if I wrote it down I could stop myself from playing that game. I really don’t need to imagine the rest of that scenario if even just one thing had turned out differently.
In the responses I received many of you expressed concern for my safety, expressed gratitude that I was okay, offered advice and made judgments on what happened and the choices I made that day.
So, I just wanted to clear up a few things as I’ve since had a chance to reflect on things and what all of you have said.
The most recurrent theme through all the responses I had was about why I chose not to call the police. To that I can only answer: I don’t know. A friend of mine and I were talking about it last weekend and she said something that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about all week. She put me on the spot and asked me about why I didn’t call the police, but before she let me answer she caught herself and said something to the effect of, “You know, it’s really so easy to analyze / judge a situation when you’re not the one in it.”
As so many of you have pointed out, I should’ve called the police. I know that. I also could have made a report afterward, but I chose not to. Whether or not it was the right choice, it was the one I made for myself. While the whole incident was happening it was just so… surreal. It honestly felt like a series of coincidences that I kept “bumping” into those guys, and while I knew something was wrong, my mind didn’t allow me to consider that I was being followed by three men until the last incident, after I was already home watching what was happening out my front window. Should I have called the police then? Probably. I just… I don’t know. I guess deep down I was afraid that calling the police would make the whole thing… real. And I know, I know, it was real and I should have accepted that at the grocery store but I didn’t. Would / will I do things differently if there is a next time? Yes. Have I learned from the experience? Yes.
I’ve also been strongly chided about my decision to leave the grocery store after being harassed for the second time. The only answer I have is that I honestly believed it was over. It’s not exactly an upscale store and I’ve been hit on in the store before, and every. single. time it ended at the door. While yes, I felt these men were more aggressive in their “pick-up” attempt and it made me uncomfortable, I had no qualms about leaving the store because I thought it had ended. Should I have told the manager about what had happened and stayed in the store? Absolutely. But I am foolish and pride myself on my independence.
All I can say is that when it happened all I could do was rationalize what was going on. I kept thinking, “they also must have needed groceries“, or “it’s just some young guys trying to have fun” or, “they just happened to pull out of the store and see me on the corner“. It was just how I responded to the situation and I realize that it was, well, stupid for me to think that way. But it is so hard to judge a situation unless you’re in it… I am a small town girl and while I hide it well, I’m afraid of everyone. I guess I just didn’t want to be that girl who overreacts to nothing. I know now that I should trust my gut when I feel something isn’t right.
Lastly, many of you commented on my statement that “nothing really happened”. I know that something happened, but I also know that it could have been so much worse, and that for many women, it has been. While I wanted to vent and get out what happened to me, I also didn’t want to write a huge “oh, poor me…” post and potentially offend someone who has been in a situation much worse than mine. I was scared, not hurt. That’s all I meant.
It’s been 10 days since it happened, and I’m happy to report that I haven’t seen them again. I’ve been especially cautious–I was driven wherever I needed to go for the first few days after it happened (the teacher I volunteer for even drove me home so I wouldn’t have to walk). I’ve been wearing different coats all week and if I am walking somewhere I never take the same route. I keep my phone in my hand at all times, and I let the Hubster know when I am arriving / leaving from any location. I avoided that plaza completely until yesterday and thankfully they weren’t there.
In some ways I’m sort of glad that it happened. It was a big wake up call, and I feel so… alert when I’m out now. It’s also been a huge learning experience for me, and I appreciate all the advice I’ve been given.
I’ve really never felt more loved and… well, humbled at the same time.
To those of you who expressed concern, I promise–I’m fine. :)
To those of you who offered advice– thank you. I went out and bought Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear today and I’m already hooked. I’ll write a proper review once I’m finished.
To those of you who pointed out where I went wrong that day– I know. All I can say is, hind sight is 20 /20. Next time will be different.
To those of you who called and yelled at me– I love you too. :)