Thursday, July 12, 2007

For your daughter

I try not to get too serious too often.
But another college student didn't come home this weekend after partying with friends.
And I think this needs to be said.

I read this startling post by Mrs. Who the other day. She makes some excellent points about how naive and foolishly trusting young women can be. I think it's a post everyone with daughters should read. And then they should make their daughters read it. Especially daughters who are leaving for college in the fall.

Her story reminded me of an incident I experienced just weeks after moving away to college. I think if warnings hadn't been drilled into my head, I might have suffered a terrible attack.

At orientation, the college counselors (older students getting paid to give us tours) all had the same message for the female students. My best friend (we'll call her D) and I heard it so often, we started rolling our eyes and mouthing the rules:

1) Never ever walk anywhere alone after dark
2) (I forget the percent) of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, or thinks she knows
3) Never let your attacker take you to a second crime scene (in other words, if you're going to be attacked, better to be in the last place people saw you than in a secluded wooded area)

In fact, the rules were very much like HapKido's excellent list. Print this and give a copy to all the young women you know.

Anyway, I was visiting my best friend's dorm room when one of the guys down the hall (we'll call him ROTC, since he was in it) introduced us to his brother (who we'll call Bro). Cute guy, this brother.
He and I hit it off immediately. And as I remember it, we spent most of the evening sitting in the hall just talking. People came and went. ROTC came by several times reminding Bro that it's time to go, shouldn't you be leaving, you have to go. And giving me these weird "meaningful" looks.
Finally, when the hall was cleared of people, Bro got up and asked if I'd like to walk him to his car so we could talk some more. Well, of course I said sure.
Did he want to say goodbye to ROTC? Nah, he's been nagging Bro to leave anyway.
Did I want to tell D where I was going? Nah, I'd be right back, she'd never miss me.

Uh huh. The perfect storm.

This was 22 years ago, and the details are blurry.
But his car was in a parking lot across a busy street and surrounded by decorative shrubbery.
Kinda secluded, but well lit.
We spent some time leaning up on the bumper of his car chatting.
All was very nice and comfortable, but he was trying to convince me to get into his car. Not grabbing me or forcing me, just trying to make me choose it.
And it gave me the creeps.

All the rules started swirling in my head.
Especially the one about how many attacks are committed by someone the victim thinks she knows.
And there I was. Alone with someone I barely knew at all.
And no one knew where I was.

And he wanted me to get in his car?
All the easier to take me somewhere?

He suggested we each have a beer.  He just happened to have some chilling in a cooler in his trunk.  I casually removed myself from the bumper of his car as he turned to open the trunk, and I put a little distance between us. Enough that I was out of his reach.
Inched my way in the direction of the dorm.

Long story short, by the time he was swearing and calling me nasty names, I was climbing through the shrubbery and running across the road.

By the time I got back to my room, heart pounding in my chest like it was trying to break out, I had almost convinced myself that I had over-reacted. He hadn't grabbed me or hurt me in any way, heck, he hadn't even tried to kiss me. He was ROTC's brother, after all, and ROTC was a really decent guy.
As soon as I walked into my room though, my roommates told me to call D. She sounded worried.
Instead, I walked to her room. She and ROTC rushed me. "There you are! Where were you?"

Turns out, ROTC didn't trust his own brother.
He had been nagging Bro to leave, so that he wouldn't bother me.
Hence, the "meaningful" looks.
He'd been horrified when the two of us had simply disappeared.
Both ROTC and D had been running all over the dorm looking for me.

Yeah. I think I got lucky.
I thank God now that the college had drilled those rules into my head.
I'm glad I acted quickly on that creepy gut feeling.

And I think if you have a similar story, you should blog it and link it to Mrs. Who's story so young women around the world can be a little safer tonight.
Someone's daughter may get to come home unharmed thanks you to.


HapKiDo said...

Excellent advice. I left a looong comment on Mrs. Who's post, so I won't repeat the points I discussed.

I just have to wonder why the sickos out there ruin my view that most people are generally decent people.

Check this link out: Sociopaths

It deals with the mind of the sociopath & I got it shortly after reading Mrs. Who's post. I found a disturbing study of how "normal" they can appear to anyone.

T said...

This is a discussion we have all the time. Unfortunately, Our family learned the hard way. A trusted friend and neighbor showed us the evil thats out there. Our discussions are not only about strangers, they are about trusted friends,neighbors, family, coachs, teachers, doctors, and pastors. Also, we discuss if you are out somewhere never leave your drink unattended even if its water. It is to easy to slip something in it. Thats one big reason we did Karate and self-defense. We wanted the girls to have tools to protect themselves and to realize even though they can protect themselves they are not invincible.

Like I said before I am extremely over protective and the girls get a refresher course before they go out. Mom says you know the rules right. The girls yes Mom. Okay then I say them all again and give them a kiss and an I love you and place them in God's hands for their adventure out.

jaj said...

Chilling. Very very chilling. Both your story and Mrs. Who's, and I'm very glad that you both made it safely out of your situations.

Richmond said...

OMG - We *all* have these stories. :^0 So glad your's turned out the way it did...