Trigger warning: Assault is discussed, though not in detail....
As a woman, I already keep my head on swivel in public. Even when I appear to be way into my phone or deep into my music, I am aware of who is around me and my music is never too loud that I can't hear people talking to or about me. Why? Because men are dangerous. #Notallmen.... I know! I have been in 2 physical altercations in my adult life. Both of them were with men. Men in the club. One was a man that grabbed my butt and I grabbed his wrist TIGHTLY and would not let go. He tried to deny he touched me despite the fact I grabbed his hand as it was grabbing my butt. He attempted to further get violent with me and a male friend stepped between us.One was a man I denied a dance. He shoved me in the back and I turned around and shoved him in the chest. My lady friends came and got between us and told him he needed to go!
I was assaulted by a boy in high school because he thought I was giving him mixed signals. This boy was my boyfriend. My boyfriend who knew I was younger than him and a virgin. My boyfriend who had shown no signs of aggression until that afternoon when he pushed me to the ground as I sat on the stairs in the school lobby. I had blocked it out for YEARS until I was triggered about 3 years ago and it all came flooding back to me.
In short, I rarely feel 100% safe around men, even men I know. With all that is coming out in the news about men in high positions doing terrible things to men and women that trusted them, more women are being triggered and realizing how unsafe they really are almost everywhere they go.
Last week or so, the Black Twittersphere was all the way live with news that someone well known amongst them was a serial assaulter. Some people were shocked and others, not-so-much. The most disappointing thing about the revelation is that he appeared to have cultivated an inner-circle of well-respected men and women to give the appearance of being "safe". This was all by design it seems, based on the accounts of many victims of his.
This reminded me of one day when some of my lady friends were sitting around talking with a guy we knew and telling stories of guys we met that were out of pocket. The guy was AMAZED and asked us where we met "these dudes". My response was: "Standing next to you!" He didn't quite understand the concept. I explained to him women who trust a man will often trust the men with whom he associates. The assumption being this man we trust would not associate with someone who acts in this way. But now, I know that is not the case. Sometimes it is due to the offending party fostering a whole other identity with one group and committing his offenses just outside of that group. This often results in the fostered friendship circle saying: "He's never acted like that around me!" Sometimes it's because the offending party HAS done it around a friend and gone unchecked because your friend didn't "really know him like that" to say anything to him.
So what is a woman to do? TRUST. YOUR. GUT! If something does not feel right when you are around someone, go with that no matter what your friends say. I am always the person on the outside with the "uh-uh" face as everyone else is hugging certain people. Then weeks, months, years later people are like that guy is a mess and I'm just thinking: I KNEW IT! Remember earlier I said some folks were not surprised by the accusations? Those are mostly folks that trusted that discernment.
You have to own your peace, y'all. This world is not going to give it to you. You have to trust in whomever or whatever you believe to keep you aware and safe. You have to trust yourself to know when something in the milk ain't clean. You have to be ok with being on the outs with folk. But also, you have to be gentle with yourself when you may not get it right and find out that someone you thought was safe or were told was safe is not.