You often hear women exclaiming that it isn’t right to have to go through extra precautions to protect oneself when men do not have to do the same things, and that if parents would teach their children how to respect people in the first place, one wouldn’t need to go through those extra measures.
That is absolutely true—it isn’t fair that some people have to take more preventative steps when getting ready to do a simple thing like going on a date, BUT it is the reality of the world that we live in. And until there is a time when we won’t have to worry about such things, we should at least make sure to prepare ourselves properly in case something does go amiss on a date.
I thought I would share some stories that have been told to me by friends and family that show just how unsafe the world can be for everyone and little things we can do to change the outcomes of less-than-desirable situations.
While it is true that men are generally built taller, more muscular, and stronger than women, this is not the case for all men; and ALSO is sometimes a reason for attacking a male in the first place.
For example: I have an older sister who walks home at night after work with a hoodie over her head and her earphones blasting her music. She isn’t (or wasn’t before this incident) always aware of her surroundings.
One night, she was walking and felt a blunt force on her head. Slightly stunned, she turned to face her attacker and saw it was a male she went to school with previously. Probably embarrassed that he knew the person or that it was a female (she couldn’t tell what he was thinking), he retreated and took off.
Of course, my sister was traumatized by the incident. She went home shaky and told our brothers about it. They then offered her some words of advice and even gave her something to protect herself with in the future. Now, it would be better if she didn’t have to walk around ready for an attack at any moment, but isn’t it better that she is prepared in case of an attack?
Also, though we don’t know exactly why her attacker fled-—she thought it was because he didn’t realize she was female from behind-—my sister would have been better prepared if she just had her music turned down a little lower or removed her hood.
It’s never a good idea to walk around at night with an eff-it attitude, especially if you’re not equipped to protect yourself. Luckily, her attacker did run away before doing anything else horrible.
As horrible as this incident was, it wouldn’t be accurate to say she was attacked simply because she is female.
Another night, my younger brother (who is 6’3”, agile, strongly built) was walking home from a night out and he noticed two groups of people approaching him from different angles. He then saw a car pull up weirdly from his peripheral and stop right in front of him; he knew he was about to get JUMPED.
Before anything could happen, he took off sprinting and cut through a bunch of alleyways to shake his would-be attackers. These people didn’t care if he was male or female; they could have even been less hesitant to attack him because he is male and looked strong. Either way, he was quick on his feet (literally) and took off before anything happened.
When he told me the story later, he was disappointed that people he didn’t even know would approach a random innocent person to strip him of whatever he possessed, whether it be the clothes on his back, the shoes on his feet, the money in his pockets, or his dignity. My brother was upset, but understood that there are just rotten people in the world.
He then decided to prepare himself for the worst of situations and started working out.
After hearing his story, I was inspired to take on mixed martial arts in case I ever found myself in a similar situation. Another time still, I actually witnessed him getting jumped by 4 or 5 men and had to physically jump in to stop the altercation. I didn’t throw any punches, but by physically putting myself in the middle of the fight and pulling people off of each other, the guys were forced to collect themselves and stop because they didn’t want to “hit a girl”.
Again, I am not saying that any of this is right, but am simply stating that many people are ridiculous and that we have to maneuver appropriately to make sure that we aren’t caught in the middle of their nonsense, male or female.
I live in New York and my family lives in Pennsylvania. To visit them, I take a bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and I usually try to plan this trip when I am getting out of work late so that I can get to my family at night and some rest up for the next day.
One of these days I missed the bus by just 2 minutes because I forgot to purchase a ticket beforehand and had to run upstairs to the ticket booth. Kicking and cursing the air, I slunk into a corner out of breath and defeated before a much older man in a trench coat approached me.
He told me he also missed the bus. I muttered dismissively under my breath, “yeah, that sucks” but kept my head down. He then invited me to a bar across the street to have a drink before the next bus came. “If we’re gonna be waiting over an hour, we might as well wait together,” he said. I was hesitant at first—he was wearing an ankle-length trench coat!—but I really didn’t want to spend the next 2 hours grumpy and alone so I took him up on his offer. As I followed behind him to the bar he spoke of, I texted my sister:
missed my bus. have to take the next one in 2 hours. grabbing a drink with a guy at [Name of Bar] across from port authority. He’s 6’3, about 270, in his forties, has green eyes, and is wearing a long a#$ trench coat. in case I go missing. His name is James according to his license…
She texted me back:
Lol. Only you. But ok I’ll keep that in mind.
And I didn’t really think anything bad would happen. But who really ever does? Still, just sending that simple text put me at ease that at least if something that I couldn’t prevent did happen, my family would be aware of it and have a clue as to where to start searching. Nothing bad did happen, it actually turned into one of my best friendships, but at least I was cautious in that small way.
I had a friend Lou tell me once about a horrible dating experience he had. He was set up on a date with a girl who seemed normal until she ordered 4 shots of tequila immediately. She drank even more as the date went on and even threw up on the dinner platter they shared. Clearly, couldn't control herself by the end of the date.
She and Lou had to leave the restaurant and he wanted to take her back to her place, but he didn’t know where she lived, and had to pry it out of her. He eventually got her address and wanted to send her on her way in a cab, but wasn't certain she could make it home in her state. He climbed into the cab, escorted her home, and even carried her up several flights of stairs and into her apartment.
When they stumbled through the door, the girl's brother was home and was livid that a stranger was carrying his unconscious sister. He jumped to his feet and bared his teeth. Lou explained the situation and his date’s brother eventually shook his head and admitted that this wasn’t the first time this had happened as she was prone to depression. Lou then understood her strange behavior but said to me quite honestly that he was glad that he was with her because few men would have had the same reaction. He was glad to help but felt uncomfortable that she left her fate in the hands of a complete stranger.
And he’s right. People must realize when they are and aren’t ready to date. Never agree to go out with someone because you need to get over another person. Yes, we’ve all heard that cute quote: the best way to get over an old person is to get under a new one. But you must really know yourself and understand when you are ready to see someone new.
In that same light, you must also know your limits when it comes to alcohol. One of my best girlfriends has a considerably lower drinking tolerance than I do.
One Halloween night, we were hopping from one spot to the next to keep the party going. I had been drinking hours before we met; she didn’t start until we met up but we still drank the same amount while we were together. By the time we got to the second or third spot, she could hardly hold herself up. I was a bit inebriated, too, but now on top of carrying myself properly, I had to literally carry her around the city.
We’d only had one other night like this and we weren’t together the entire time so I had assumed she had other things when I wasn’t with her. I decided the best thing to do was to take her home. We lived in different boroughs so I couldn’t escort her the whole way. I explained the situation to her, and she said she could make it home alone.
Then, I called her S.O. to tell him that he could expect her in about 40 minutes, and told him to let me know when she arrived safely.
We talked about it the next day, and my friend told me she was aware of her low tolerance--and only drinks when she really trusts someone. I was glad she trusted me enough to do this, but then reminded her that I had never seen her like that before and was worried. I told her she should have let me know ahead of time that she was planning on drinking a lot, so that I wouldn't be in a similar state.
I also wasn’t happy that I had to cut my party short to babysit her. She realized this and actually decided to seriously cut back on her drinking. She would only have a drink with me on occasion and only if we knew we were having a “chill night”. Even if you are with someone that you trust, you should still monitor your own drinking and actions.
Last story. I’ll keep this now short and leave a few minor details out for embarrassment's sake. Years ago, I went out with a friend of mine and the guy she was seeing at the time. He had a friend and the two of us somewhat hit it off. We had some drinks. A LOT, actually.
We pre-gamed at my friend’s guy’s place, went to a few bars, and then continued the party back at their place. By the end of the night, we were slurring, stumbling, and drinking cheap whiskey straight out of the bottle. One thing led to another and eventually me and the guy I had met earlier that night got “comfortable”.
I couldn’t really remember the buildup but I do remember suddenly realizing that we were in the middle of something I didn’t want to be doing. It was like I woke up and he was on top of me (this is not how it happened, it’s just how it felt at the moment). Anyway, I told him to stop. He did immediately. The next day, I had to ask him if he had used any protection (because I was that out of it) and he ensured me that he had.
I wasn’t completely reassured until the next month when pregnancy and STD tests had come back negative. And all of that could have been avoided had we both been more careful. Now, I’m not saying that anything was wrong with the situation (except that we were both extremely inebriated) but I know for a fact that if I had been sober at the time, the night would have had a different outcome.
We were both cool about it moving forward but I can’t deny the fact that I still cringe a little whenever I think about that story, mostly because I had been so irresponsible in the company of a person that I had just met that night. It was an otherwise memorable and fun-filled night, but it will forever be etched into my mind with that unwanted detail.
There are some situations that you cannot control, but I am simply trying to change the mindset that women shouldn’t do anything at all to prepare for a date simply. The fact of the matter is that everyone, everyone is at risk when they step out into the world. Some people have it easier than others, because life isn’t fair. But frankly, this is the way it is. Instead of looking at how things should be, we should try to focus more on how they are and adjust accordingly until they are better. We also shouldn’t look at self-defense classes as a negative thing; it’s great to have a few skills up your sleeve! These are just a few stories, but hopefully they help to slightly convey the spectrum of unsafe dating for different people.
So, remember daters:
Safe and happy dating!
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