Not long ago, a woman was brutally assaulted and raped in the grounds of a high school that I nearly went to, and that lots of my peers attended. In broad daylight.
That led my dear mother to voice concern about the walkway that I take everyday on the way to work and back. It’s a path that winds over a creek, through bush, behind a school field, and that’s generally well away from main roads. It’s reasonably well frequented, however – by mothers with prams, runners, elderly people and schoolkids.
As a woman – and particularly a small and physically weak one – I know I’m vulnerable.
But I refuse to be cowed. I refuse to live my life in a permanent state of fear.
Did we stop flying after 9/11?
Do we give up driving after being hit by speeding drivers?
There is good fear – fear of the worst case scenario that leads us to make plan B
Fear of failure can go both ways – it can act as a motivator, or a paralyser.
There’s social fear, something I know all too well and generally does no good.
Fear of taking a leap into the unknown.
And there are plenty more types of fear – you probably have a few close to your heart.
There is caution, and then there is being afraid to live your life. It can be dangerous out there – that’s a fact – but the “scary world syndrome” reinforced by news coverage of crimes may raise our blood pressure levels unnecessarily.
Attacks can happen to anyone. One of T’s good friends was badly assaulted while walking home one night from our apartment a few years ago. He’s not big but is fierce and I’ve heard enough stories about him prevailing in fights at drunken parties – he can defend himself. Still, one person against a group has no chance.
While I appreciate Mum’s concern, I’m not going to nearly double my daily journey just to stick to the main roads. After all, that’s no guarantee of safety either.
I used to walk alone a lot in the dark. I worked well past sunset, and would walk home from the bus stop around 9pm (later sometimes). At our most recent abode, I often – not always – took a shortcut through a park with no lighting, even though it only saved me a couple of minutes. I probably wouldn’t do that today.
I think it really boils down to this: avoid taking unnecessary risks. Nothing in life comes without an element of risk. Be smart about where you gamble.