I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened Monday night (when a psychotic man tried to follow me home). The encounter really shook me to the core of my being. I’ve also been thinking a lot about how I handled the situation, and how other women could diffuse a potentially violent encounter.
I think one of the reasons the situation didn’t escalate to anything physical is because I did this:
When I turned around and fiercely asked “Are you following me?” instead of looking afraid and continuing to walk forward, it no doubt threw him off-guard and caused him to re-think his initial plan of simply tailing me. He was way bigger than me, and my doing that was the equivalent of what the little puffer fish puffing up to say, “Don’t even TRY to eat me or I will fuck your day up.”
Some other examples of this in nature are:
Image 1: Deilephila elpenor, AKA the Elephant Hawk-moth caterpillar, disguised as a badass snake.
Image 2: Ascalapha odorata AKA the Owl Moth
Image 3: Chlamydosaurus kingii AKA the Frill-necked lizard.
The Frill-necked lizard is my favorite, because even though it can’t spit venom balls and is pretty harmless, it still looks adorably fierce with that neck-ware.
The point is, guys who harass women walking alone at night are cowards looking for easy targets. If you make them think twice about your capabilities, it buys you time and gives you options.
That said, I guess I wasn’t as scary as the Frill lizard, because the same man approached me AGAIN Tuesday night, after I’d spent the whole day convincing myself that it was stupid to sit at home being afraid because there was NO WAY I would see him again. I mean what are the chances?? But it happened.
I was smoking a cigarette outside a bar, and he was walking down the street and he literally made a U-turn when he saw me and came over with the same creepy smile on his face. I thought I could be just projecting the psycho’s persona onto a random passer by, but I confirmed it was him. I burst out, “Are you fucking kidding me???” to which he verbally acknowledged the encounter the previous night. I think I started like, freaking out and yelling at him, I can’t really remember, but he lunged at me, and I screamed. The clerks at the restaurant next door came out and asked if I wanted them to call the cops, and I said ABSOLUTELY I did.
When the guy heard the mention of the cops he started walking away, but I followed him. I think that he probably prowls around the neighborhood on the regular harassing random women, and I was pretty unlucky to meet him two nights in a row. But I didn’t want him to be able to continue to harass people, and I was livid about the fact that he scared me so bad. So as the guy walked past my favorite bar, I ran in and got Charlie, the bartender, who chased the guy for blocks while he called the NYPD.
I sincerely think that this particular individual is psychotic, in that his perception of the world is severely different from yours or mine. And while he ran away, I think he may have learned at least some kind of lesson, hopefully, as he ended up being chased down the street by a band of angry hipsters, which has got to be pretty embarrassing.
I’ve gotten some advice to not walk alone at night, and while I know it was given out of love and concern, I really can’t accept it. I will not drastically alter my life and be prevented from doing things that I want to do because some men haven’t quite made it out of the cave. From now on, when I move around New York alone at night, I will use the knowledge from this experience to influence my decisions, but I won’t let my actions be dictated by fear.
And now I must recite a passage from Frank Herbert’s Dune, because it is one of my favorite quotes of all-time:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.