my experience –
I grew up in a very small hamlet with the population of 100 souls in it that were mostly relatives of my mom or dad. Sometimes if you shook the tree, they were related to both sides. There was a two lane highway thru town that took you to a couple bigger towns, but nothing much was even closer than 1/2 hour away. Maybe once a month we went shopping in the city for the stuff we couldn’t grow, make, hunt or fish for.
I’m not saying that was idyllic. In fact it wasn’t. But it wasn’t till I moved to the city at 18 years old that I knew what a hooker, gang or a pusher were. And yeah, there were bars in the couple towns near us. I know this because my dad hung out and passed out in a few of them.
When I moved out of my parents’ home and to the city, I had to worry about who I was walking close to and what this stranger’s intentions were toward me all of a sudden. I learned to lock my door. Yet the funny thing was, I was more at risk in my own home than i ever was on the street. I knew how to take precautions on the street and what parts of town were safe and where it wasn’t. Though funnily enough, I lived in some pretty seedy areas and hung out in some seedy bars and never got atttacked there either. Several times, I have lived on a street where murders, beatings and rapes have occurred. Where gangs were prevalent. When my kid was young, I lived on a street where another kid had been kidnapped and murdered.
So the lesson I learned most in life is that where I should have been safe, I wasn’t and where I shouldn’t have been, I was. Go figure! I made the rules for how I dealt with the streets and wasn’t the one making the rules at home.
In that context, I learned that attitude is key. If you allow yourself to be at risk, you are. If you allow people to be close to you, they are a hazard to you. If you allow other people to decide for you, or rule you, you’re more often in danger.
So how do you mitigate risks in a topsy turvy world? Basically, you keep your head down, mind your own business, go slow when letting people in and make them earn your trust. And kick them out when they fail. Because I promise, if they do it once, they’ll do it again. Thing is everyone fails. So you decide if you’ll let that person try again. Or not. If you can live with how this person is a threat to you. Or not.
Everyone comes into adult life knowing what they know. And that is the way I grew into my relationships,
My rules for surviving life might not work for you. I’m not even sure they work for me when I’m at home. Because I have always wanted to be married for eg. And have yet to be. Mostly because I don’t trust to that degree at home. I might never. That is where my life and statistics have taught me the risk really is. I can walk down the worst street in any major city and maybe feel a little nervous but can’t walk down the aisle. Hmmm… When you put it that way. 😛
I know there are laws and rules of engagement. I also know there are criminals who circumvent them whenever they can. So whatever I do, there will be times and places when I’m more at risk than others.
And I can’t walk down a street nude. There are several things that might occur. Cops might come and arrest me, whether criminal code or mental health warrant? I guess that depends on what else is going on. I’m going to get catcalled, if there are men around. What they say will depend on if they think I’m hot or not. At 50+ now, the hot part is less likely than the not. Though I still get whistles. I could get pulled into an alley and raped. That all depends on if there is a rapist nearby and has next to nothing to do with whether or not I’m nude or attractive. It has everything to do with proximity and likelihood of them getting away with it in their mind. I tend to walk a bit away from alleys as a result. So nobody can grab me or yank me in. Where I have been molested, assaulted and raped was at home though.
But life is a series of choices and risks. And I can’t leave it all up to someone else. I won’t!
So that is why I say that we have to pick or mitigate our risks that we’re able to survive. Or willing to endure.
And it’s all about prevention with me. Like you wait to take a sip of your coffee before you drink it so you don’t scald your tongue, or you step away from the alley where the rapist might be hiding. Or you don’t walk down the street nude. Or you don’t walk down the aisle because that is where the real risk is.
And that degree of prevention is always a personal journey that only I can decide for me and you can only decide for you. Depending on your history and relationships. And the trust, support and respect of the people around you. And if you have never been raped or assaulted, you’re more likely to give trust as a go-to than I ever will be. And if once you have been a victim, you’re more likely to be one again. Until you get help to deal with resorting your rules.
So that is what I mean by personal responsibility. Prevention. It’s never about victim shaming or blaming. And I think that needs to be the key in our discussions. I don’t ask questions that nobody but a trained therapist should ask