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In my neighbourhood there was a serial sex predator breaking into women's homes and sexually assaulting them in their own beds. It's bad enough that women routinely have to take more precautions than men to do basic things like go for a walk or a jog. 1/ #sexualassault #crime
I can't describe to you what it's like to be afraid to do something as necessary as falling asleep in your own bed at night. This is what happened to many women in my neighbourhood. 2/ #VAW
At the time this was going on, a lot of women talked to me about their fear, about being afraid in their own homes, being unable to fall asleep or stay asleep in their own beds. There were a lot of exhausted women in my neighbourhood. 3/ #crime #fear
For the men in the neighbourhood it was different. Most were blasé. One did say he was afraid to leave his wife alone, but the rest seemed oblivious for the most part. 4/
One man who lives within a couple doors from me told me not to worry because he's often outside at 3am & wouldn't let the predator get me because he might want to attack me himself instead. 5/ #threat #misogyny #VAW
Probably due to my 30 years working in criminal justice, my attitude was slightly different from that of many other women. I decided that if the predator chose my home I was going to catch him and he was going to jail. 6/ #determination
Every night at bedtime I booby-trapped my house (nothing lethal - mostly tripping hazards and noise makers). Then I practiced and practiced navigating through that in the dark. 7/ #selfdefense
I surveyed each room, deciding what could be used as a weapon, ways to buy myself seconds of time, as well as escape routes in case I was losing the battle. 8/ #selfdefense
I thought about ways I might increase my odds of getting help. For example, smashing windows to increase the chances of someone hearing me scream. Of course I kept my phone by my bed but I knew it may be of little use. 9/
I knew this predator was experienced and adept. None of the victims woke up before he was already in their bedroom. Some of them didn't awake until he was already in the process of sexually assaulting them. 10/ #predator #crime
I also know that our bodies have an autonomic response in high stress situations. Adrenaline & cortisol increases will take away your fine motor control making it more difficult than you'd think to call 9-1-1 11/ #stressresponse
Since I couldn't let my dog wander around a booby-trapped house, I locked us both in my bedroom. I felt bad about that (not fair to her) but felt it was necessary. 12/
I would have preferred my bedtime routine be comfy pajamas & reading a book before drifting off. Because of this predator, I couldn't have that. It would be 5 months before I got a proper sleep. 13/ #sleepdeprivation
Again, I was not the only one not sleeping. A lot of other women told me they weren't sleeping either. Sleep deprivation negatively impacts health & quality of life among other things. 14/
Try sleeping when you are hyper-vigilant & ready for a fight, one that might be a fight for your life. (Soldiers will understand this, as will people with #PTSD ) 15/
As the human body requires #sleep , there's a point at which it's going to sleep, no matter what. It was in those moments when I felt myself slipping into sleep when I knew I was vulnerable and that made me afraid. 16/
As strong as I am (or like to think I am), I'm still human. The vulnerability of falling asleep in those circumstances was hard for me to deal with. I'm not sure why I feel embarrassed to admit that, but there it is. 17/ #vulnerability
As determined as I was to fight for myself, I'd really rather not have to. I'd rather not be in that position in the first place, especially in my own home. I also knew I might lose that fight as the deck was stacked against me. 18/ #VAW #selfdefense
There were nights when I was too awake/wired to even rest, so I'd drive around the neighbourhood hoping to find the predator and call it in. I was also extra vigilant in watching out for a particular neighbour. She is disabled and lives alone. She was terrified. 19/ #VAW
There is an extra layer of fear when you have a #disability that makes you less able to fight back and more of a target. Women with disabilities are victimized at a much higher rate than other women. 20/ #crime
If you don't already know it, through this example you can see that some crimes greatly impact a whole community and more people than only the direct victims of the criminal. I brought this point up in a public forum recently. 21/ #crime #VAW
Other women agreed with me. They mentioned another predator in the area who is sexually assaulting women in broad daylight in public places. They spoke of being afraid to go for a jog or a walk, and being limited in their freedom. These are freedoms men take for granted. 22/
Then the men took over the conversation. One man said that everything is called “sexual assault” so we really don’t know which ones are minor. You could hear half the room bristle. 23/
He tried to walk it back by saying, “I’m not saying one sexual assault is less important than another or more minor”. (Except that IS what he said) 24/ #minimization #normalization #VAW #sexualassault
He went on to say, “But some of these aren’t full blown rapes. It might be just a guy trying to grab an ass.” 25/ #minimization #sexualassault #VAW
Many of us have heard this kind of thing before. Even women have said this sort of thing. That’s a problem. It’s a problem that the sexual violation of women and girls has been normalized to any degree. 26/ #socialization #VAW
It’s a problem that some people say, “it’s not so bad” or “but it happens all the time”. For us to accept that sexually violating any human being is somehow “understandable”, or the norm, or “not so bad” because women find ways to cope is UNACCEPTABLE. 27/ #VAW #sexualassault
Another man stood up and, in a tone that oozed contempt, said, “Women talking about these fears, this is just not true. This is overblown. This is hyperbole.” 28/ #denial #sexism #misogyny
To support the man who was denying women’s lived experience, another man said that police officers and paramedics deal with the public while they’re alone all the time and they’re not scared. 29/ #minimization #denial
He also said that lots of men have been in situations where there might be a threat to them and they’re doing okay. 30/ #minimization #denial #oblivious
Men: You need to understand there is a big qualitative difference between worrying about your physical safety (like you might get robbed) and worrying about your physical AND SEXUAL safety (might get raped) 31/ #sexualassault
and a great number of sexual assault victims describe feeling terrified for their lives (he’s sexually violating me and is going to murder me). 32/ #sexualassault #VAW
It takes courage for a woman to describe these feelings to anyone, and especially to men. When women speak of this they are making themselves vulnerable again. Listen, empathize, respect, and deserve their trust. 33/34 #sexualassault #trust #VAW
There’s lots to unpack here and I might talk about it more later, but that’s enough for now. 34/34
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