In my hometown going to the beach has always been a treasured past time. Anyone could go there to have fun, feel safe and get a tan at the same time. This has never altered in my 26 years living there. Then all of a sudden that view is altered, changed, maybe for the better. It’s always a harsh reality that separates childhood from adulthood, and it always happens sporadically and about different things. So far, I’ve experienced the harsh reality regarding the following: Your heart will get broken by boys, you will lose the people you love eventually, time speeds up with every passing year and strangers will be after you, no matter what age you are simply because you’re female.
Surely I will face more harsh realities in life, but that last one hit me recently. I’ve always thought of myself as strong, resilient and that I could avoid negative situations with an optimistic view on life and people. My thing has been to always give people the benefit of the doubt, because you really don’t know what’s going on currently in their lives. But I have to remember that you also cannot trust a stranger completely either. I grew up locally and on occasion would get cat called here and there, but was never really felt harassed or pursued. It wasn’t until about two weeks ago, that I was reminded that you can’t predict everything.
On Sunday April 3rd, my husband and I decided to head to Hannah Park. It’s situated on land where you can go hiking, bike riding, fishing or even to the beach. We went there to fish, but we realized when we got there, that while my husband had a license, I did not. So I watched him fish for about 10-15 minutes. I then decided to head to the beach part of the park so I could get some sun/tan. The last time I had a really good tan was probably 5 years ago. My husband dropped me off at the beach, we didn’t really think anything about it, as it was a busy day at the park.
A group of foreign men (could not tell you what nationality to be honest) were on the beach that day, fully clothed and just walking the beach. I later found out that they had been taking pictures of people on the beach. I had one of them approach me and talk my ear off for at least 15 minutes, asking about local real estate. I think I said multiple times that I can’t be too sure, as I don’t own a house and suggested he talk to some older patrons at the beach. Odds are they’ve had multiple houses here. He shrugged that off and said he liked hanging with a younger crowd, while pointing at me. I, to this day, have no idea what that has to do with buying a house. He leaves and the women near me ask if I’m ok, I think I am but the encounter has me contact my husband and ask him to pick me up. I had that feeling that something was off.
Right after texting my husband, the guy appeared again, just out of nowhere. He asked for my number, in case he had any more questions about the area or real estate. I politely declined and offered that he should consult with a local realtor. By this point I can feel myself almost shaking. He said thank you, patted me on the back, and disappeared once more. The ladies near me were packing up and motioned for me to leave as well. They offered to walk with me, I thanked them and told them my husband was coming to get me. When we got the parking lot we saw the same guy at the end of the lot, near the entrance/exit. These nice ladies offered to give me a lift down to the intersection, which is where I was going to meet my husband. These ladies were amazing, they were at the beach that day with their daughters. They had decided to leave when one of the daughters said a group of men were taking pictures of people on the beach. They waited with me until my husband pulled up. I jumped in and told him everything.
I realized that the more I talked about it, the more I realized that I was shaken up quite a bit about the whole thing. Like I said earlier, I always thought myself to be strong, resilient, and smart. But you can be all of those things and still feel vulnerable. You keep telling yourself to stop being silly, that it was most likely just a lousy hit on you type of situation. But then a bigger part of you wonders whether you would’ve been abducted or assaulted. I don’t think men even realize that the constant persistence can cause a woman anxiety and drive them away. Men need to be straight up. You want my number because you think I’m attractive? Just say so. Some men feel they have to create elaborate stories to either trick or convince a woman to hang out with them, when really it just causes the woman to freak out. What’s even worse, is when a guy still goes on, even though you make it clear that you’re married. That happened to me and sent up a red flag. He knows that I’m married, but continues on. What could he possibly want? The mind can just run wild with the possibilities. That’s one of the worst side effects. Everything that you used to do independently, you suddenly become hesitant to do. Walking on the beach after work, not so sure. Going for a run around the apartment, not so sure. Taking your dog outside to go to the bathroom, not so sure.
But then you get to the point where, do I really want this to change my life for the worse? Do I want it to limit what I want to do? No, it just makes me more careful, more cautious. I need to learn from this so that when the situation presents itself again, I can handle it better and nip it in the bud. I’ve tried to take it as a learning experience, a freaky one, but a learning experience nonetheless. I hope that people can read this and use caution or have their loved ones use caution. Yes, he may have been innocent in asking about local real estate and making local friends. Or he could’ve had other intentions. Trust your instincts and your gut feelings.