Never in my life have I experienced a physical threat. I did not know what that feels like to have aggression directed at me. I have never been confronted physically by another person. Nor do I live in fear.
I consider myself lucky.
I also feel on many levels this sort of violence doesn’t come into my life since it’s not something that really enters my consciousness. I know it’s out there, but I believe wholeheartedly that that which you give your attention to becomes your reality.
I tend to take the high road on most occasions. I don’t like confrontation, nor do I like aggressive behavior. So choosing to live a peaceful life is my conscious choice.
Overall, I consider myself a gentle person.
Two weeks ago, I had to let all that go and pick up a rock to defend myself.
This was big for me.
During the afternoon, I was walking down our street, just returning from the bakery. A man was walking towards me. He was Peruvian, somewhere in his early 30s. He was looking at me, and as he walked passed me, his hand reached out and grabbed my crotch!
“What the fuck just happened?” I thought.
I flung my body around to face this man who had already passed and said the deepest, most powerful voice I could muster, “ASSHOLE!”
He stopped, looked at me and laughed in my attempts to be powerful.
I felt humiliated, small and powerless.
I kept on walking, breathing through my teeth.
I could feel his energy, his thoughts. He had anger and aggression towards me, a gringa with blond hair, walking down his local streets. He had so much anger towards what I represented to him in that moment and there was a heavy story playing in his head and I could feel it. I felt like a non-human in his presence and his Latino machismo was so big, there wasn’t room for me, the person on that road.
I walked further, still about 5 minutes from my house.
It started to rain, so I ducked into the little tienda just a few feet in front of me. As I stood in the doorway, I noticed the man had turned around and had been following me, and I hadn’t even noticed. I was caught in my thoughts, not aware of what was happening around me. The man walked past the tienda, slowed at the entrance where I was standing, looked in and smiled at me.
His look was menacing, and I felt my blood pressure rise. For the first time in my life, I experienced rage ignite within my body, I understood the expression “my blood was started to boil”.
In that moment, I realized I was not afraid of this man.
I was angry.
I was angry that he was fucking with me, and approached me with the attidue that he had power over me.
I stood in the door of tienda and gave him enough time to for him to pass. Then put my scarf over my hair in attempt to stay dry from the rain and set out.
He was standing there waiting for me. I look at him, gave him a scowl, made my eyes smaller and meaner pressed with anger and bent down and picked up a rock.
I showed him that there was a rock in my hand and took all the physical power in my body, and channeled it all through my hand, into this palm sized rock. My arm was rigid and I was holding his glare.
He laughed at me, turned and walked down the road, the same direction I walking, but in infront of me about 50 paces.
Halfway between the tienda and my house, he stopped on the side of the road. I could either pass him, letting him walk behind me or I could too stop.
I stopped, held the rock in my hand and faced him with my face scrunched up but holding dynamic power in my body that was able to snap in any moment.
Again he laughed.
Just beyond him, but before my door, was the gate to a hotel. There were people standing out front of the entrance to the hotel. I walked passed my predator, gave him a look of death, and stopped where the other people were in front of the hotel. I stood with them, while watching this man pass me. I figured he should think I was staying there and not know where I was going, nor know where I lived.
He laughed at me, while he passed. I could read his energy, a game of cat and mouse with him, he believing he had the upper hand.
He reached the end of the road, just passed the entrance to my house. He stood there, at the end of the road, while I remained at the entrance to the hotel, just a hundred feet behind him. He turned around, spread his legs a grabbed his own crotch and made an obscene gesture at me. Then he broke into laughter once again and exited down the steps and was out of sight.
I waited another moment to make sure he wasn’t popping his head back around the road. Maybe he was waiting for me beyond the stairs, maybe he wasn’t. I crossed the road, put my key into the door, and turned around once more. He was no where to be seen, so I dropped the rock.
Safe inside my house, I felt angry. I felt angry that another human being was so aggressive to me for absolutely no reason. I felt angry that it was necessary to embody such rage. I felt angry that this was the interaction I just encountered.
Then I felt empowered that I found my own strength.
But I equally felt pissed off that this man had flung his aggression upon me.
I’ve seen this man two or three times since. I walked passed him with Miro as he was tending his newspaper stand on the street. Yes, I know where he works, and he didn’t see me that time. The second time, I was with a group of friends in the market. It had just started to rain so we were standing at the entrance waiting for it to stop. Then he walked through the entrance and was standing face to face with me. My heart raced, but I stood with my feet solidly on the ground. I think he realized that I was standing with a large group of people, and many men.
He looked frightened. He looked small. He even looked remorseful. He scampered by me, very quickly and got lost in the crowded market.
Guess what? I felt sorry for him. I can’t even imagine what was going through his head to make him act so aggressively towards me. But the dance we dance with one another is just that, a dance. He didn’t hurt me and in my heart, in my soul, I don’t believe this man is a bad person.
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Ah, this reminds me of a moment when I allowed a fellow student to walk me home when I was studying in China. Let’s just say that a scene from a certain Sandra Bullock movie aided me in thwarting his advances. Namely, I broke his nose. It’s hard to deal when you feel so unsure. I’m glad he saw you later and realized that you’re not an east target.
Oh, and I miss your sweet face!!!!!
Wow!! I just experienced your anger as I read this and now I type with tears in my eyes. It hurts my heart so much to hear of this. You are so strong and so brave!! I do hope that you NEVER have to run into this man again, however, the chain of events seemed to work out in your favor. Love and Light!!
You are a better person than I am. I am not sure I could be so forgiving. My blood started to boil as did your by just reading this story.
You are so brave to have confronted him the way you did both the first time and then again with your group of friends.
I could feel your every emotion as I read this. You are strong, and brave, and powerful.
What storytelling–I felt all the confusion, anger, fear, and aggressive emotions with you. I applaud your level of compassion for the man. I had a stranger grab my behind as I was walking down the street I lived on in Paris. I felt so violated and at the same time so confused. I wasn’t wearing anything sexy and I look like I could have been French, but for some reason, he had something going on in his head that made him act like that towards me. Thankfully I didn’t see him again or have the face-to-face interaction like you did.
Wow, craziness itself. So sorry to hear this happened to you. It’s kind of strange that Peru is one of my favourite places in South America, but also one of the two places we’ve ever been robbed… A completely different type of crime, but yes: anger rather than fear was the predominant emotion.
Lainie, I admire your courage as a single mum doing what your doing and giving this guy the benefit of the doubt and all, BUT, there are some true arseholes that will do you harm if they can. Have you got any self defence skills?
Glad things turned out o.k. this time, but I agree with Craig there are bad people out there and defense skills can be useful. Stay safe.
Such a huge part of travel and living abroad is interaction with people, and it’s so frustrating to hear of encounters like you mentioned, but I love how you didn’t give him that power over you! Way to be fearless! 🙂
First of all I want to say I find your website super interesting, like a bit of fresh air in an ocean of badly recicled travelling websites and blogs out there.
I am Peruvian and in a way I feel bad about what happened to you.
On the flip side, there are sickos everywhere in the world and from my experience my countrymen are very warm to visitors, the anger and aggresion you felt so strongly on him may just be him as a person, more than due to a historic reference or machism.
All the best on the rest of your journey.
I just read this, and I could so relate. I really do wish these things don’t happen but they do. My friends told me to take it as a wake-up call so I would be more alert to my surroundings. I still feel like we need to take up a self-defense class. Actually, I will put that now on my priority list.