21 September 2018
Sexual Assault in the City
“Do you wanna hang out with me and Ida tonight?”
The text was from my friend, Kate. I instantly smiled and replied with a yes. It was the first warm night of the year, and I was desperate to leave my stuffy house to hang out with my two closest friends.
When I got to Ida’s house, they came right out. They were dressed similar to me; in shorts and a tank top, the perfect spring clothes. We all shared a smile and began to walk down the street.
“My mom told me not to go to the playground once it gets dark, but do you want to go anyway?” Kate asked.
I thought about it for a while. I’ve lived in the city my entire life, and I’ve never encountered anything scary in the night before. It was only a playground, what was the worst that could happen? We all agreed and went on our way.
The warm breeze hit our face as we laughed and talked on our way to the park. It was great to finally be able to be outside again and even better to be with friends during it. The sun was slowly setting, and the pink and orange sky lit up our path ahead of us.
At the park, we found a place to sit down and continued talking. Around us there were some kids playing. As the sun set, they slowly began to leave. Soon, we were the only people there.
What was her mom so worried about? I thought to myself. After all we weren’t kids, we were teenagers. We knew how to be safe.
In the middle of my thought, I heard a rustle in the grass. The others heard it too. I looked up and saw a group of kids on bikes laughing. They were acting just like we were, I paid no attention to them. It was just a bunch of kids having fun.
But, they slowly started getting closer to us. The kids with bikes started circling us and began laughing louder than before. Still, I tried my hardest to not pay attention to them.
“Hey,” Someone shouted, “You guys are cute.” We muffled a thanks and started shifting away from them. I started to get very uncomfortable, “Are those IPhones?” Kate shot up and started walking away, quietly telling me that we needed to leave.
Still, they kept following us. I said goodbye to them, trying to be polite, but they wouldn't leave us alone. One boy started throwing rocks and sticks at our legs. We just moved faster.
“They grabbed my butt.” That was when I knew I needed to get out of there, and fast. I shared a look with Kate, and we began running. The warm breeze that was so refreshing earlier was now just an obstacle getting in the way of my safety.
I ran until I noticed that Ida wasn’t with us. Panicked, I tried to search for her. My heart was beating so fast I could feel it in my throat.
“Where is she?” I shouted.
As I was spinning, a portion of the same group of kids marched up to us. Behind them, I saw Ida, slowly walking with the other kids. She was visibly scared, but she was staying cool, calm and collected. I almost wanted to laugh. She was much smarter than us.
She made her way back to us, and we yanked her away from the kids. Thankfully, there were a few girls there who stopped the group from doing anything else to us. They left as loudly as they came, and we turned the opposite direction.
“Are you okay?” We all asked each other. Everyone said yes, but no one really meant it.
I was pulled into a group hug, and I could feel everyone shaking from fear. We reluctantly pulled away and began our walk home. Although it was only a few blocks, it felt like miles.
Ida explained to us later that she thought we were right behind her when she started walking with the kids. She was walking with a few girls, who she said were actually really nice to her.
“I didn’t want to scare them or anything,” She said when I asked why she stayed with them, “I was just trying to stay calm.”
What she did really opened my eyes on what to do in these situations. You can do dumb things when you’re scared, like we did that night. Running away only made us more vulnerable. If I stayed calm, they would’ve seen that I wasn’t afraid of them and they would've left. Most young kids that do things like this just want to try and scare you.
After that night, I have been hesitant to go out in the dark or go out at all. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced. But, now I know what to do in a situation like this one: stay calm. Getting in a panic will help no one.
I made a mistake that night. But, that mistake helped me realize something incredibly valuable. Something I will never forget.