No mama wants to get a call in which their beautiful child (no matter how old they are that is how you think of them) is on the other end and her first words are "Mama, I'm ok, but you need to sit down...are you sitting down? Is daddy there with you?" At those words my heart sank completely in my chest and there was no earthly way my knees were going to hold me up, so yes I was sitting. Of course with my vivid imagination, I had already gone through several scenarios in my mind by the time she explained her predicament. I'm no stranger to the rain and have had a fair share of traumas and unexpected losses, so I may react a little more strongly, which might be the first clue when my daughter waited a couple of days to call me after she was attacked in an alley.
Sending your little girl off to college is full of preparations. I am fairly well educated when it comes to statistics. I shared with her that 1 in 4 women are victims of assault in their life time! I shared with her the dangers of college, parties, roofies, date rape, a few self defense moves, you know... all the things one can talk about when you are sending your children off to war, I mean, college? Not once did it cross my mind to talk to her about walking in a place she knows well, when it was still light out, and keeping safety in mind. I was remiss in talking to her about cities and this small town she grew up in and I really beat my self up about because I do know better, having lived in cities most of my life.
My little 5'4 girl was walking down a familiar alley to a residence she has been to many times before, when she was grabbed from behind. Her mouth was covered, and she was told to be silent. She says all she could remember was me telling her when she was little "If someone ever grabs you baby, freak out, scream, scratch, claw, vomit... what ever you have to do to get away." She told us she became a screaming, crying, kicking five year old at that moment. My eyes fill up with tears when I think that when she was in danger, my voice and words came to her. The very large man dropped that fire cracker he had grabbed a hold of... still tried to incapacitate her by elbowing her across the face (poor baby girl had black eyes and bruises) but when it was evident she would continue to scream and fight... he ran off. She had pepper spray but she says it was in the bottom of her purse and it did not even cross her mind, and even if it had...who has time to dig around for it? My sweet girl hid out in her dorm room for a couple of days before calling us, trying to regain her feelings and sense of safety being so far from home.
Recently our "local" papers and news have been full of stories and issues with rape on the closest college campus near us. My daughter's attack and one her friend had a bit later, really made me start thinking about how we prepare our young people for adult hood. I immediately called a friend of ours who sells Key Cats, which are a self defense tool! We bought a couple of them and headed to my girl to give her one and to make sure she was ok. Another local mom, is one of those amazing pro active women with daughters, and she worked with the school to bring someone in to teach self defense to the senior girls, at which my Lili was able to share her experiences with the girls.
She reminded us we are told alcohol and other situations may compromise one's safety when we go to college. She really said the mentality that a woman has to be "doing something wrong" (ie dressing provocatively, drinking, etc.) is what causes bad things like this to happen. Victim blaming gets us now where and gives girls a false sense of security when they are just walking down a street minding their own business. Being a victim of an assault can happen any time and any where, and it is important to be as prepared as one can be should one be faced with it. (I raised this articulate woman!!) She now carried her key cat placed correctly on her hand anytime she goes anywhere alone, or in a group of women. She knows the goal is to get away, and as her parents we want her to always be prepared. It is a sad part of life, but her hope is, other parents will read about her experience and take action to make sure their young people are prepared for all the challenges leaving home may bring.
If you wish to find out more about Key Cats, you can contact Derek VonHeeder @ Stump Grills or can reach him at (406-370-2570) . He will be more than happy to help you and ship them out. Find out if your local school or anyone in your community has self defense classes, and keep safe out there! I receive no compensation or incentive to recommend this product. It is a product I believe in! Plus... they come in pretty colors!