The idea of being stalked, attacked, or abducted have ingrained self defense and survival skills into the minds of women.

Nine men were recently arrested in College Station for sex trafficking and prostitution. Surprised? I’m not. With the constant warnings being sent in my women’s organization group chats every other week detailing the new thing you need do or not do in order to not be sex trafficked, it’s hardly surprising they found just a few of the people who are responsible for these fears.

A trend on TikTok earlier this year announced that 97 percent of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed, based on a study done in the U.K. The U.S. isn’t far behind either, with a reported 81 percent of all women experiencing sexual harassment. The social media platform erupted with individual stories, support, realizations and envy for the lucky three percent.

Code words, location sharing and faked phone calls in order to get out of sketchy dates sounds like something that only happens in cheesy sitcoms. Similarly, carefully watching the shadow of a person walking behind you or faking a selfie to get a look at them sounds like something out of a spy movie, not real life, but for many women these tactics are our reality. No matter how careful you are, there is still the chance of the unthinkable. I would know.

It had been a bad day, and I’d torn my entire apartment apart looking for my Starbucks vizor and thus got to work late. What’s worse, my phone was dead and that meant I couldn’t FaceTime my mom the entire 15-minute walk from work to my apartment like I usually did. Hands stuffed in my pockets, I tried to speed walk my way home.

I was doing fine until I hit Northgate — the heart of College Station’s nightlife. Walking past The Corner, two men looked at me. One nudged his friend and nodded in my direction. They exchanged a look and completely turned around, veering from their original course to follow me. And what was supposed to be a quick walk home turned into a fight to throw them off.

With practiced dexterity, I pretended my phone was buzzing in my pocket, raising the dead device to my ear and telling my nonexistent roommate that I could see the building from there, waving my hands in the air and laughing at nobody on the other line. And after turning the corner into the alleyway behind The Dragonfly, I took off in a jog, murmuring the words of a beloved Star Wars scene to both comfort me and deter any remaining followers from finishing the job on account of my obvious insanity.

Finally making it to my building, I didn’t stop my fast pace until I was safely locked in my apartment. Collapsing on the floor, I instantly charged my phone to let my mom know that I was all right and my device had just died. 

That night I made it home safe, but the sad reality is not all women do.

This fear isn’t something that lies dormant in women — we’re actively aware of the danger we’re in just by walking home at night.

When most young women are given car keys, there’s a can of pepper spray attached to it. When we move into an apartment or a house, our parents ardently check the locks and give us devices to keep people out. And when we face the fear, we have to live with the knowledge that even if the unthinkable does happen, there’s a scant chance that the person responsible will face genuine consequences. I honestly don’t know a woman my age who doesn't have at least one self-defense item.

If you’re still not convinced that this terror is experienced worldwide, it was reported by an NGO that as many as one in four women fear abduction in India. The U.K., as mentioned earlier, reports that for every five women, at least three have been sexually harassed. If that’s not bad enough, it was reported that around 600 women are sexually assaulted every day just in the United States.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about this problem except try and make the world a safer place for women, which doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon, at least in Texas. However you spin it, the numbers show that women don’t feel safe in the world and it’s about time that changed.

Abbie Beckley is an english junior and an opinion writer for The Battalion.

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