On Sexual Assault

I’ve never known anything besides being female, but based on observing human behavior, it must be pretty nice to be a man in a lot of ways.

Across the street from my building, there’s another apartment building, or as I call it, a filing cabinet, because the apartments are too small for more than one person. There was a couple who lived there once, but that didn’t last long. It’s almost always individuals who live in that building.

I notice the comings and goings there more than most, because I spend a lot of time outside waiting for my dog to do her business. I could probably tell you with some degree of accuracy which apartments have females and which have males just based on their behavior. At night in particular, the apartments with women have the blinds or curtains closed. A lot of the apartments with men don’t.

One of the apartments on the first floor facing the street houses a man who rarely closes his blinds. When his blinds are open and his lights are on at night, you can see everything he’s doing in there if you are so inclined. I avoid looking in his apartment, because I am not a peeping tom and because I’d prefer not to have our eyes meet inadvertently. I don’t want to generalize, but I’ll tell you this much, there aren’t too many women who would feel safe enough to live like that.

I wouldn’t be able to live in his apartment or any apartment on the first floor. The pedophile who came for me at night when I was a kid used to take off the window screen and pull me out of the window next to my bed by the ankles. Since you are never more vulnerable than when you are sleeping, even now, I cannot sleep on the first floor next to a window and I often wake up in a fetal position so his arms can’t reach me.

Just the thought of living in an apartment like the man who doesn’t close his blinds gives me a slight panic, but then again, I feel less safe than most people. Still, the women in the building across the street close their blinds or shut their curtains at night more than the men. I am not the exception.

Women are in more danger of sexual assault than men. According to RAINN, an American anti-sexual violence organization, the number is 1 in 6:

That’s not to say that men aren’t impacted as well. According to the same website, about 3% of American men, 1 in 33, has been the victim of sexual assault. TGQN people are not immune either. RAINN says that “21% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted.”

Those numbers are staggeringly high. American humans are significantly more likely to be assaulted if they’re under the age of 24, but the threat never disappears entirely, especially for women, either cis or trans.

Not only was I sexually abused as a child, but I’ve also been sexually assaulted as an adult. I have PTSD as a result. My PTSD symptoms make me jumpy and unable to sleep. I never feel completely safe, and it’s very easy to work myself up into a lather of insecurity as I’m doing by writing this post. My Fitbit says I have an elevated heart rate and I have a slight metallic taste in my mouth just from thinking about it.

I never feel entirely secure–not even with a gun, a German shepherd, and a baseball bat tucked right behind my bed. Glass is so easy to break and doors are not that difficult to pry open. If someone really wants in, they’re getting in. I think the only way I could ever sleep peacefully is if I had a panic room that no one could access.

Finally, a good night’s sleep.
(Image from Brown Safe Manufacturing)

My favorite sorts of movies are the ones where something bad happens to someone (particularly if that someone is a female lead), they become a badass, and take revenge on the bad guys, e.g., any of these.

While the beginning where bad things happen may be difficult to watch (or impossible depending on the movie), I love the parts where they exact revenge. I cannot get enough of revenge flicks. They’re my favorite probably because I never got to take revenge on any of the men who assaulted me.

Meiko Kaji as Lady Snowblood (1973)

When I’m feeling unsafe like I am now, I go watch a movie like Lady Snowblood and it makes me feel better. But, I’m not a badass. I couldn’t get revenge through the justice system and I can’t go on a rampage with a katana like Lady Snowblood. All I can do is try to be as safe as possible and remember that most people in the world are not actually out to cause me any harm.