On February 14th of this year, after a long evening of flying/traveling to get back home, I found myself locked out of my DTLA loft and needing to take an Uber to a friend's in Mid City. It was very late and I got dropped off in the wrong place—about 5 blocks too far—but I've never been one to be scared to walk alone, even at night, so I didn't fret. Call me naïve or arrogant; I just grew up wandering the streets of Southern California, even late at night, and never felt the need to worry. That night changed that completely for me though.
As I was walking, I got a bad feeling. I tried to stay calm, called my friend and he came to pick me up. As I hung up the phone I passed a man sitting on the hood of a car. I offered a polite smile and "hello" as I passed. I'm not sure how much later . . . maybe 30 seconds or a minute, I heard the fence to my left rustle. I figured it was my backpack hitting it, but as I realized it wasn't as I turned to check. It was the man I had just greeted. He threw his hands up my dress and shoved me to the ground. He proceeded in trying to touch me more. Luckily, he was not able to cover my mouth in time, and we were almost to a main road, so I kicked and began screaming as loud as my body/voice would let me. I'm not sure how much time passed, but it wasn't too long after that he ran away.
My friend pulled up, just a moment later, to find me very disoriented on the ground of the sidewalk. Looking back, a lot of things were "lucky" about this situation, like the fact that it didn't happen further down the block, where there were no street lights, or that he didn't have a weapon, or that he didn't try to pull me into a car. It's sad and frustrating that those are things I should feel lucky about. I felt spooked, but fine, the next day. It just felt like a bad nightmare or story. I thought I'd be able to bounce back.
Unfortunately, the fear and memories started to settle more, a little while after the incident. Not just memories of that night, but memories of a handful of others that I've carried silently with me for years; dark memories of being molested by, not just one but two, family friends from age of five to six years old. It's horrible that I was the one that felt embarrassed about it for so many years. It's also not ideal to feel my heart race just a little harder when I step out of my car to walk home, or really anywhere, at night; to feel angry at strangers staring or catcalling me as I walk by; or to be the "jumpy" friend, employee, or person on the street, who gets frightened by her own shadow. It'll definitely take some more time to heal, but I'm glad to know the strength and value of my own body and voice. We need to embrace both of those things as people. To not hide in silence, embarrassment, or fear, but to stand (or sometimes scream and kick), in order to be heard and healed.