I don’t look down while I’m taking the stairs because I can’t afford to. As a woman, I have to be aware of my surroundings at all times. The split second it could take for me to adjust from looking down to look up could cost me dearly. I have avoided dangerous situations in my life by being aware of all that goes on around me.
When I was in college a pair of guys were parked in the parking lot of a pizza place when I pulled up. I got out of my car to get my pizza I ordered and heard one of them attempt to call out to me. I proceeded to walk in and grab my pizza and walked back to my car. The men were still there when I walked out and asked me how I was doing and I told them fine and then got into my car to drive home.
As I waited to turn back into the street from the lot, I looked back in my rear view mirror and noticed that the men were no longer parked but right behind me in their car. At first, I thought nothing of it and continued driving down the road.
As I sped along, I noticed they were still behind me.
I made a turn and they followed. I turned again and they were still there. I sped up and they sped up too. It was then that I accepted that they were in fact following me. I called my best friend to tell her what was happening. I decided to go toward the dorms I knew were busy at that time of day.
I suddenly increased my speed to move far ahead of them and turned quickly into the dorm parking lot. I took the first space I could find, turned off my car and hid down in the seat. I waited there and peeked at the road to see if the men were there. I saw them pass and ducked down. I waited for about thirty minutes before I drove home.
If I hadn’t paid attention to my surroundings, those guys could have easily followed me home without my knowledge.
I’ve had other instances of men overstepping the line. Men have grabbed my arm and hand while at the club. Some quite forcefully. I have even had men attempt to grab my waist.
Three years ago, I had a man accost me on the light rail when I lived in Minneapolis. He yelled at me from a distance then sat behind me. I kept him in view, warned him to stay back and remained alert. I ended up getting off at the next stop and called 911 to report the incident and give his description.
Luckily he didn’t follow me off of the train. Who knows if he was merely looking for a woman who wouldn’t so forcefully assert herself, someone he could make a victim.
Sometimes men can assume because you are smaller or seem more demure that they can overpower you.
All of these instances are a part of why I started taking martial arts for self-defense. I wanted to know I have the power and knowledge to defend myself. That despite my appearance, I cannot be taken advantage of. I’ve been taking Wing Chun for over three years now and it has given me the confidence to protect myself. I have grown in strength and power and I love it.
Sadly as women, we have to be more cautious about being alone and observant in our surroundings. So I don’t look down when I take the stairs but it isn’t out of fear. It’s so I can be prepared for whatever may come my way.