All my friends...and I do mean all...will at one point or another- point out and joke that I look like I'm 15.
"No, you look 12!" Someone else will say and laugh.
It's all fun and games I know...but there is a dark side to this.
To explain, I'm a 23 year old woman, young yes, but I'm an adult. I'm also 5'1, so I'm a petite person.
And you would think, "Well, what's wrong with that? - I'd love to look so young!"
My reply is that - "You really DON'T want to look that young!"
Because I have always had the problem of attracting the men who like...well...15yr olds...perhaps even 12yr olds. It's disgusting and it's degrading.
I don't JUST attract them. It'd be nice if all it meant was that they would stare and leer at me.
Instead, it has meant I've been stalked home, I've been followed at my heels by an older man with a knife in his hand and an extra large duffel bag across his shoulder (I scarcely got out of that one). I've had men at bus stops try and touch me, both drunk and not drunk. My petite size especially means they do not feel threatened and that I'm an easy target to overpower. I've had men pull off the highway to try and pick me up because I'm walking alone. They will talk to me and ask what classes I take in school...and when I pop out with the 'seriously? I'm not a child, I'm 23!" they are utterly shocked and in disbelief. Even a remark of 'I have pepper spray' does not deter them much as I'm so small I'm easily over powered.
So I have learned....there are INDEED predators out there, but they don't just prey on you through the interwebs - not even if you are alone. Many of these happened in broad daylight. Thankfully though I'm still here in relatively one piece.
Thankfully I also have a nice big german shepherd who is overly protective of me. If I ever feel threatened she picks up on my feelings immediately, and her happy cheery self turns into baring teeth and growling. I can walk outside again, and I will either get looks of fear because of my dog, or admiration because of my dog! I eliminate myself as a target!
I do know...even if my child is 15 - it is not safe for her to ride a bus! Traveling in twos is essential. These incidents were not all that far from each other, but because I look young and I'm a small person, I have attracted predators.
Thankfully i do not have children. I don't know how I could go on each day without worrying. Even when she is an adult!
Or I can make sure she has a nice big dog with teeth!
I would love it though...if I was allowed to bring my dog to work for THAT reason! Because it is not SAFE out there. I wish I could bring her everywhere because she is friendly to strangers - so long as you don't lunge at me or her.
So be careful out there. Because there are predators. I have to be mindful every day I'm out traveling on the bus or the subway, even walking down my own neighborhood where many of the predators approached me and it is very scary!
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