A Woman Afraid

Some men wrap their arm around my lower waist as I serve them Spotted Cows and pepperoni pizza. They think they have the right.

Some men holler at me as I walk down the sidewalk. They think it’s okay to call a stranger a “sexy thing” and comment on her “nice ass.”

One man threatened to rape and kill me when I didn’t want to do what he wanted me to do. He thought he was entitled to my body after pursuing me for “long enough.”

I was groped on public transportation, sexually assaulted by a friend at a high school dance, violently shoved by an ex-boyfriend. A former employer rested his hand on my butt and said “I want to see you naked.”

I’m a woman – I’m harassed, I’m threatened, I’m verbally, sometimes physically, abused. The awful truth is one of every four of us will be raped or beaten in our lifetime.

I’m a woman and like many women I know, I’m scared. I’m scared of being raped. I’m scared of being hit. I know too many women who experienced or experience both.

My best friend in elementary school was molested by her grandfather – she never told her parents and neither did I.

A high school friend was sexually assaulted in the theater green room by a fellow student. There were no witnesses, so he had no consequences. She transferred.

A college friend was raped by a stranger in the dorm showers our sophomore year. They never found him.

This is uncomfortable to write, as I’m sure it’s uncomfortable to read: I’m scared of men, or to put more precisely, I’m scared of what some men feel entitled to, are capable of.


Recently, a man I barely knew yelled at me in a parking lot. We had met twice before, felt a romantic chemistry, and met up again to socialize with friends and enjoy live music.

“Where were you?”

“In the bathroom.”

“I don’t believe you! Where were you?”

“I was in the bathroom.”

“I think you were with that guy – that long-haired guy you were dancing with. I think you want to be with him more than me.”

“That guy? He’s my friend.”

“I don’t believe you. Where were you?”

I met him twice. He felt entitled to know my every move, accuse me, raise his voice and bring his face inches to mine.


The next day I couldn’t look any man in the eye. A grocer smiled at me as I entered the store and I felt suspicious, scared. I surveyed pasta sauce options with tears in my eyes, my skin crawling with fear – in a brightly lit, bustling small town grocery store.

So I got in my car, exhaled and I called a man I know – kind and gentle, big and strong. He invited me to dinner with him and his girlfriend. “You know if I was there I would have beat the s*** out of him,” he said. And I believe him.

I know so many men who are kind and gentle, respectful and loving. Men who stand up to other men.


“Leave her alone, man! You’re scaring her,” one man said, standing between him and I, shaking his head in anger, disgust.

“You’re a nice girl. You don’t deserve that,” he said while another man drove to a side exit to pick me up and take me home. No one deserves that.

But I’m afraid I’m at fault. I’m afraid I did (am doing) something to cause this behavior. I’m afraid people will say I caused drama, sought attention, created a scene.

And I’m afraid of what might have happened if he and I were alone when he got angry.

And I’m afraid that by writing this piece I’m inviting more harassment, that people will look at me differently, treat me differently.

And I’m afraid that so many other women are afraid like me – afraid to speak, afraid to share, afraid to make others uncomfortable with the truth.

One out of every four of us will be raped or beaten in our lifetime.

Why am I afraid to speak? Obviously, I am not alone. Why am I embarrassed and ashamed to share these truths with my sisters, my father, my mother, with you?


The man who drove me home after the incident held my hand while I tried to understand what just happened, what might have happened. I apologized for “the drama” and felt sick to my stomach. “He can’t do that to you. You have a community up here,” he said. “You are part of a community. There are people to help.”

He’s right. There are people to help, to listen, people who understand – HELP of Door County, the Door County Sexual Assault Center, who say that domestic abuse is a crime and includes “using the tactics of blaming, intimidation, coercion, threats, minimizing, isolation or denial to control or manipulate victims.”

There are also people who need to hear about our experiences, men and women alike, people who need to work through the discomfort, listen, and realize how serious and prevalent fear among women is.


I’m a woman, I’m a victim, and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of feeling powerless, I’m sick of feeling afraid.

So I’m sharing these truths with all of you because I want some power back. I want others to know that it’s okay to share your stories of fear and abuse. I want others to understand what happens to a fourth of the women in their life – sisters, daughters, mothers, aunts, cousins, nieces, girlfriends, friends, coworkers and acquaintances.

Perhaps the more we know, the more we can prevent abuse while promoting and celebrating healthy, respectful relationships between sexes.

Domestic Violence By The Numbers

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.”

• One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.

• Every nine seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten.

• Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women – more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

• Nearly one in five teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.

• Every day in the U.S., more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

• Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.

• One in 12 women have been stalked in their lifetime.

• 81 percent of women stalked by a current or former intimate partner are also physically assaulted by that partner; 31 percent are also sexually assaulted by that partner.

• Only approximately one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalkings perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police.

• 28,539 domestic abuse incidents were reported to law enforcement and referred to district attorneys’ offices in Wisconsin in 2011. (70 of those occurred in Door County.)

• Most domestic violence incidents are never reported.

Sources: Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Wisconsin Department of Justice; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence;

The Sexual Assault Center of Door County is located at 57 N 12th Ave #110, Sturgeon Bay. For more information call 920.746.8996 or visit

Help of Door County is located at 219 Green Bay Road in Sturgeon Bay. For more information call 920.743.8818 or visit