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Women Only: Safety on the road - sexual assault
#1
I felt that I must start this thread. I've had some encouragement to do so and there is so much to say. I wish I was a wordsmith and could do a better job of this but I hope I can at least get some concerns out here.

So many women are on this forum, sometimes I think there are more of us than men by all the introductions I see but in just a bit of time most of the women's voices tend to disappear.  I know it's hard to compete with the fellas and the fears of being overrun.

For me it hasn't been a problem. I started here very quiet for a long time but built up speed as my natural humor couldn't hold back.  I offer very little in the way of advice, not out of shyness, but because I just don't know anything about mechanics or electronics or any of the myriad subjects that come through.  I pretty much have to stick to the YARC where I've found a home and some very good, like minded forum members.

I've still  not gotten around to the subject.   Gotta warm up for this one as I imagine it's not going to be popular.....

I've specifically made this thread in the woman's room because I know where it would go and how heated it might get if I put it on the main forum.  We need a place here to discuss this amongst ourselves without hearing, "Well, you should be more aware". "You shouldn't have been there"    It always seems to come down to pointing fingers at the victims.  It always seems to start out with the word YOU YOU YOU doesn't it?  It's a pity really but a fact many of us are very aware of.

I was talking with another woman the other day about this subject and how so many good men are, bless their hearts, just totally unaware of what we go through or how we must adjust ourselves to survive as lone women.

I know many of you men will read this and I'm glad.  I hope it helps to make you more aware of what we go through and have to think about on a daily basis.  

In any case I was talking about being alone on the road and how we are told that it's perfectly safe. Just don't worry that something might happen.  Nobody ever has that type of problem.  Well, we know it can happen anywhere, to any woman, at anytime. I got to thinking and could not think of ONE woman that I knew that hasn't been sexually assaulted, raped or attacked at some time in their lives by a man just because she was female.  Not one including myself.  

Do we report this?  Sometimes we do but more often we don't.  We want to forget. We don't want this as part of our lives.  We don't tell anyone for a long time. We hold it inside and are disgusted with the situation.  Then we do what we have heard so many times and start the blame game.  "Maybe if I wasn't in that parking lot it wouldn't have happened". "Maybe I should have put better locks on the doors". Or even "Maybe I should have known that guy was dangerous and shouldn't have gone out with him".  Maybe I.  Maybe I. Maybe I.  Always twisting things around until you blame yourself again and again.

So many good men find anything like this hard to believe.  They don't think that very many men are capable of such behavior and it's a very rare thing. Most of us women know that isn't true at all.  Oh it can start when you are the most vulnerable as a child.  Thank God I had a pretty good young childhood but so many did not and as I grew into a teen the fairytale was over.  

Camping doesn't make you any less vulnerable. Shit can hit the fan at anytime, anywhere and when you least expect it.   You will never have the advantage in a surprise assault.  You may get out of it somehow but it's never going to be pretty. We can take all the care in the world and it can happen.  

I'm not asking that you all share your stories unless you want to but I would like to know if there are some of you that have escaped this as I've never met a woman that has.  Most women I've talked to can recount many, many vile experiences. I don't know how to do an anonymous pole but I'd like to see that also.

I know there are many points I've missed that I may come back to later.  It's early and I haven't finished coffee.  

One note:  my crappy experiences never turned me against men like I know it has so many of you. I revel in being a woman and love them dearly.  I love to baby and cater to them and see the sweet, happy faces turned to look at me with thanks. I've caught a lot of flack for that from other women also.  I enjoy the company of men friends much more than women and am not blinded by my bad experiences.  I love all the little and big differences that make men so unlike us.  They are extraordinary to watch and their masculinity is heady.  I hate to see them emasculated.  Let them be men and you'll be much happier for that!

I'm not putting this out here to man bash because it's just not in me. I think we need to be very careful on this thread that it doesn't turn that way. We aren't talking about all men but we must know that we really aren't ever safe.

Take it away girls.

Camilla
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#2
Meet me, a woman that hasn't been sexually assaulted and who believes that only a small minority of men actually do sexually assault, rape, etc. And, having been in the military, men can assault other men as can women assault other women, I knew of both of those scenarios. I was always aware of the possibility, especially in the military when going out in the evenings, but I never had an issue despite the "stupid" chances I took which I attribute to good male friends/co-workers that were basically watching out for me, the naive and/or stupid one.

No one is really ever safe. Feeling safe in your head maybe, but never actually safe. Not men or women, young or old, rich or poor..........

I think the so-called "victim blaming" is wrong, but everyone needs to exercise personal responsibility which is what is really being said. The perp is definitely the issue, but no one can really ever get ahead of that, so the only way to be ahead is everyone else practicing over-the-top personal responsibility. It is just the way it is.

I can imagine once being a "victim/survivor" that it instills a fear that is hard to overcome. I have no advice on that.

One has to decide if they will be comfortable or not alone on the road. I am attempting to decide that now as when our son moves to a residential home, I will be going out on my own. It isn't an easy decision BUT I know that if I buy a home and settle in, with the way things are going in the world, I could very well become a victim there, the neighborhood, and I have seen many, could become drug infested and I could be in danger walking out to get my mail. There were people breaking into the homes during the day when the people were at home.

It is a toss up. One is never "safe" and probably feeling "safe" may very well be the biggest danger out there, the not being on guard to some extent.

While I felt less immune to sexual crimes during my mid-life, now older, I am more vulnerable to the serious perps as I have read a few times about rapes of elderly women, something that makes me feel ill. (If I could have 2 minutes alone with one of these perps.........).

If I thought or decide I would be in more danger on the road than in a stick and bricks, the decision would be made. I think it is a toss up.

As I have said, I have not been the victim of a sexual crime, so my opinions may be of no value to others that have.
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#3
Great post Snow. Of course it's a minority of men who commit these crimes. I hope you didn't feel I was saying otherwise. I certainly know you aren't any safer in a home as I had breakins on two occasions when I was home. Thankfully threat of a gun chased them off (long story). I was lucky to have woken up before anything horrible could happen. One left shoes and a pile of clothes so there was no doubt that things could have gotten ugly.

As a fellow veteran, thanks for your input. I found that most vets I was surrounded by were excellent guys but there were still many cases of some ugly sexual harassment from the few.

Thanks again from a fellow veteran.


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#4
My experiences have left me with a deep distrust of most straight men, I don't hate them, or even really dislike them, they just aren't in my world very much, by choice. And the ones that are I give a wide to berth to until I know them pretty well.

As far as safety on the road, I think our biggest asset as women is our intuition, since most of us lack the physical strength to neutralize a threat, we've developed a fairly strong intuitive awareness of our surroundings so when something feels wrong it probably is. Our biggest detriment is our conditioning. We were raised to be polite and not upset men, so when we feel something isn't right we often fail to act on it. Best advice I could offer another woman hitting the road is to work on listening to your own gut and learn to not be afraid to get out of a situation however you need to.
“If the words you spoke appeared on your skin, would you still be beautiful?”
~ Auliq Ice
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#5
Great post Queen.


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#6
Rape is violence, not sex.  Many people have a hard time wrapping their heads around that fact.  

Blame is easy.  People don’t even really have to think about it – they just parrot what they’ve heard.  Unfortunately, this includes the victims --- probably because they’ve heard it all of their lives:  They must have done something wrong, or it wouldn’t have happened.

Even the perpetrator’s first line of defense is often blaming the victim:  She asked for it.  It was her fault.  Look at how she was dressed.  

You don’t usually get this same attitude with other crimes.  If a guy with a gun goes into a convenience store, shoots the clerk, empties the register and takes all the cigarettes, where do you put the blame?  On the clerk?  On the brick building?  On the bottles of Pepsi?  The thought processes of the blamers is different, and it shouldn’t be.  

Some things you can’t stop.  If someone jumps you from behind, you do the best you can, and sometimes your best just isn’t good enough.  That’s just how it is.  It’s the same in Carmel, CA as it is on BLM land in New Mexico, in that respect.  Sometimes, you just don’t have, and can’t get, control of the situation.  This is Real Life, not the movies.  The blame still belongs to the perp.

Cammalu:  “They [men] don't think that very many men are capable of such behavior and it's a very rare thing.”

Maybe, but I suspect (opinion) that some of them just don’t want to think it’s common, because they’re nice guys; they hate to think that other men who drink the same brand of beer they do, could do something like that.  Others know that it is common, and they would do it, but they don’t want anyone to know.

Psychopaths (born) and sociopaths (made) are said to form about 3% of the general population (just a very rough estimate – personally, I think it’s higher).  They can be found everywhere, city and country.  Most of them look and act like regular people, because they’ve trained themselves to do so.   Most of their victims take them at face value – how would you know different?  

The only time that I was accosted, I fought back, and the guy took off.  That was dumb luck as well as anything – some days you’ve got it, and some days you don’t.  I got home and shook for at least three hours, and didn’t sleep at all that night.  And I didn’t sleep soundly for quite some time afterward.  

I’ve talked to quite a few women about learning some basic self-defense, and the majority said, a) they wouldn’t need it; b) they would be afraid to hurt someone; c) they just hoped that someone would come along and help them… a + b + c = Stupid.

The business about not wanting to hurt someone intent on doing you harm is EFFING INSANE!  The only reasoning that I can think of is prior programming, like applying a mental burka.  

Some women just refuse to pay attention.  I’ve seen this in action.  Are they so ignorant that they can’t see an obvious predator aimed at them?  Are they so desperate for male attention that common sense just falls by the wayside?  Do they think that nothing bad will ever happen to them because nothing has, so far?  Or does it, too, fall back on prior conditioning?

A book on this subject that I highly recommend is The Gift of Fear & Other Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker https://www.amazon.com/dp/0440508835/_en...G31BDJ1JWV

In it, he refers to a real woman who was manipulated by a strange man (all in a few hours), right up to him preparing to kill her, at which point she realized what he was doing and escaped.  The author asked her questions about the perp’s step-by-step method, and asked if she had noticed the various things he said and did, that should have been fairly obvious warnings; she said she did notice them, but she brushed them off, or thought she would hurt his feelings.  

The problem is that she isn’t unique.  She kinda-sorta recognized the individual manipulations, but she couldn’t seem to put them together to form a clear picture.  How many women found dead in alleys, shallow graves and their own homes have  failed to put the picture together?

Survival on a daily basis, in the city or in the backcountry, is a often a matter of being able to recognize danger when you see it.  You do it when you cross a street, you do it when you drive a car, and you do it when you have a container of rat poison sitting on the counter beside the oatmeal.  

It’s no different when you’re camping out in the sticks.  If you see a bear or a lost Chihuahua, your brain tells you which one is the most dangerous.  Just keep your brain turned on when you deal with people.  And knowing some self-defense wouldn’t hurt (you), either.
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#7
Great Trainchaser. Thanks.


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#8
And the reason I almost quit posting here permanently, we have a thread like this, thoughtful and requiring a willingness to discuss a difficult subject... and it brings out a loud thread about men being left out, all in good fun supposedly, but still the very idea of having a thread they aren't permitted to post in, and they cannot allow that. It makes me just not want to post here at all, hell being asked to be left alone in a tiny corner of the internet is a small thing, and yet even that small thing cannot be respected, how are we EVER supposed to expect them to respect us anywhere. *sigh*
“If the words you spoke appeared on your skin, would you still be beautiful?”
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#9
Queen, I understand completely.

But, if it helps them to talk about it then I'm going there also. Any time there is an opportunity for learning - especially about this issue- perhaps it's a good thing.

So far they have played nice.


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#10
I am one of the lucky ones. I have never been sexually assaulted. The closest I have come to that was once a friend dragged me to a bar and a bunch of guys started buying us drinks. I was the driver so I didn’t partake but my friend got a little drunk. The guys decided to invite us back to their hotel and we all ended up skinny dipping in the pool. Something I was reluctant to do but was pressured into. The guys stole my underpants and started running around with them telling me that my ass was fat and they were going to keep my underpants so they could prove to their friends that they had gone hogging. That was honestly the first time I had ever heard that term! It was a bit humiliating and to this day I wish I had gotten out of that pool and kicked their asses. I am not sure if they were intending on hurting me or not but I got out of the pool, got dressed sans underwear, told my friend to get out of the pool and come with me, and I walked to my car. There may have been something in my body language that let them know I was not about to let them hurt me without a fight.

There was another time when I was walking my dogs in a local park at night when a man came out of the shadows and came up to me way too close, maybe a foot in front of my face in an otherwise completely empty park. I could smell the booze on his breath. I gave him an order to step back. I was clear and direct “You will step back now” and I had to order him to do it a few times. It didn’t hurt that both of my dogs sensed that there was something not right about this guy and started to growl and it probably didn’t hurt when I told him that I was telling him to step back for his own safety not mine. “Step back!!! I am telling you this for your safety, not mine motherfucker!” He did as he was told and I literally backed out of the park because there was no way I was going to turn my back to him. I called the police and also was able to intercept other dog walkers on their way to the park to tell them not to go there.

At any rate, I have been lucky. The men in my family have never harmed me and that is where many women I know have encountered their rapists. One of my friends has been making me very proud because she is a strong advocate for changing laws about the statute of limitations for prosecution of child sexual assault. Her ex stepfather rapist actually wrote her a letter apologizing the day after he could no longer be prosecuted. She was 12 when he started regularly raping her and when she told her mother, she was kicked out of the house “for telling terrible lies”  She has been a real part of a bi-partisan effort in Michigan to change this law in Michigan so that adults can bring charges against those who raped them when they were children. She wrote a letter to her ex step father’s employer (he is a professor at a well known college) since he deals with young women.

Another friend was raped by her father starting when she was five, then later raped by a step father when she was a teenager, and finally raped by an uncle when she was an older teenager. Really messed up family. I remember when her brother turned 40, he had a big party and couldn’t understand why she refused to go. He had invited her father and the uncle who raped her and then had the nerve to get angry when she said that she wasn’t going to any parties with rapists but especially parties with her own rapists. I have seen this over and over with people I know. They are raped and then the very people who should have protected them deny it or excuse it. I am so lucky not to have that family dynamic. I have a friend who was raped by an older step brother and her family refuses to believe her so now she not only was raped, she has essentially lost her whole family since she can’t even bear to look at them and since they continue to allow the step brother to attend family gatherings. It really is sad.

I have had many male friends over the years and have been very trusting of them. It is luck that my close male friends have all been upstanding and respectful of boundaries or rather it was my good fortune to have so many male friends who have people in their lives who are very anti-rape culture and who made sure that everyone was clear that only ‘yes’ means ‘yes’.  Sure some of them have hit on me but not one of them has disrespected me and every one of them understands the concept of consent. I have, however, in online discussions, learned that there are many men who are not clear on that concept and I am sure that is why date rape is the most common form of rape. I think this kind of rape really is about sex and not about violence. When I talk to my female friends who have experienced date rape, it really does seem that the guys were clueless and not malicious. In all cases, either the woman was too drunk to consent but didn’t put up a fight or they said no a few times and when the guy refused to listen, just stopped fighting. Many said that the guys called them afterwards to ask for another date! I really think this kind of rape is probably the sort where good decent men who have been socialized to believe that women are supposed to say “no” and that when they say “no”, they mean “maybe”, can learn that they should actually have a “yes”. I also have known more than one woman who does say “no” when she really wants sex which of course is terribly confusing and doesn’t do anyone any favors. I think that to combat date rape, everyone has to be on the same page and we have to adopt a mentality that “No” means “No” and only “Yes” means “Yes”
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