Would you ever leave your bike unlocked in I.V.? No, unless you are a naive freshman or are recently brain-damaged. Would you ever leave your car unlocked in a bad neighborhood at night when your valuable car stereo was in it? No, not unless you had taped a sign to your window reading, “Steal me! I need the insurance money.”
So why do so many females leave their doors unlocked for their roommates late at night in a town notorious for unwanted late-night visitors? Why do guys, people claiming to be friends, let so many women walk home alone at night from a party or even from a night of studying? Is it because they don’t care? Again, the answer is no; they do care, but not enough.
One would hope they could feel relatively safe in their own community. Yet all too often events occur which make us uncertain and take away the right to feel safe. We are reminded of this by the events that have not only recently affected our nation, but our community. Unfortunately, it is not until after someone gets victimized that we have a heightened sense of caution, which usually subsides after a short amount of time.
Many read the story earlier this week about the attempted assault on a female while she was sleeping in her home. Today a frightened friend told me a story about an obscene phone call and a strange unwanted visitor in the early morning hours to her home. The retelling of this story revealed more tales, spread from various friends about other recent “scares” and run-ins with what they felt were “potential” attackers. These are the stories that make me feel ill at ease, a pain in my stomach that does not easily go away.
It saddens me that a community as unique and eclectic as I.V. has to deal with such issues. But this is a reality of our world. What saddens me even more is the lack of protection both taken and offered by members of this community.
As my friends rush to find better window locks, order caller I.D. and buy mace, I examine the way I go about moving around this small town.
I often scoff at the need to be walked home and breezily hurry on my way. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten a few cold shivers and that my heart has not beaten a little faster at the sound of approaching footsteps behind me. I have walked home alone on many a late night when I was either not offered someone to walk back with or I just wanted to go home when others were not ready. I am not alone; I have seen and heard of many other girls walking home alone, whether from the Del Playa crawl or from a late night at work or studying.
Lately, and in the past, I have discussed this issue with several of my male friends. Upon doing so, I realized that many guys simply cannot relate to or understand the fear that many women have. Men don’t have to check twice if their purse is securely around their shoulders or call to check in or try to convince a tired friend to walk them a few more blocks until they safely reach their door. Lucky for them that they don’t know that fear, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to deal with those that must have that fear.
So boys, take note: walk your girlfriend or female friend to her car, her house or her bike. Make sure she makes it home safely. You take the same precautions with your bike and stereo, which – unlike your female loved ones – are easily replaceable. Believe me, girls recognize these efforts and make it a point that others recognize you for them too.
To all the boys who already take these minimal precautions for the sake of their friends, I thank you for them and I thank you for me. You not only did a good deed by protecting your friend, but you made sure there was one less story for me to hear about the next morning.
Victoria Hassid is a sophomore history major.