Letter to the editor: Fearing sexual assault

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The other day, I was walking down Spruce street at night. I was walking behind another girl and she saw a group of guys walking towards her and they seemed intoxicated. She proceeded to swerve to walk into the middle of the road instead of continuing on the sidewalk.

As soon as she made enough distance, to presumably make herself feel comfortable, she swerved back onto the sidewalk and kept walking.

In my role on campus, I preach campus safety and the use of the resources that volunteers diligently work to run. However, in the moment of walking home from my friend’s house on the corner of Hickory and Hazel, I choked.

I chose to make the decision to walk home alone even though my phone had just died. On one hand, I do not want to have to call someone else to babysit me on my walk home but on the other, I  shouldn’t need to switch sides of the street, carry keys between my fingers or speed walk to avoid the potential of being attacked on my walk home.

I recognize that making assumptions about male friends who happen to walk in groups is not right, but I am not apologizing for the fact that I don’t feel safe walking dark streets alone.

Yes, I probably should have called FOOT Patrol, but to make it a few blocks it hardly seems fair that statistically, I am more likely to be raped on my walk home than a man. It’s not right that assailants are almost always men. It is terrible that I have to constantly look over my shoulder and wonder what each rustle in the bushes is, when most of the time it is just the wind. All because there is always the slightest chance it could be someone ready to attack me.

I want to feel safe in my community, from school to city to country. I just want to feel safe.

Going back to that girl I was walking behind, she ended up heading to the exact building I was. In fact, she was a first-year student. I told her I noticed how she dodged the group of young men who approached us both.

In essence, she told me that boys will be boys and its better to be safe than sorry. But think about that for a second; a first-year female student who arrived on campus less than eight weeks ago is already scared to walk home at night. What does that mean?

It means that we, as a society, are creating a space where it is normal to be scared and to have to move to the other side of the road when groups of men approach us. No. Hell no. That is not the kind of community I want to build.

We should not have to live in fear of our own communities and yet, we are.

– Bianca Anderson, Laurier student

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