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Last night, J and I took Sprout to have a vaccination. In USA doctor-style, the pediatrician visit ended at almost 9 p.m. even though our appointment was for 6:45 p.m. Thankfully we had fed Sprout earlier. J and I opted to eat upon returning home, and maybe that, plus the fatigue, made me feel not-so-hot. We had to wait for change after paying, and J suggested I walk home alone since we live only about 500 meters from the clinic.  I finally caved and set off, sticking to the biggest roads as the safest option. Not because I was afraid but out of common sense.

Sadly, that was the only bit of common sense I exhibited in what follows.

About a block away from the clinic, I realized someone was following me. Stupid, stupid, but I told myself it might be J.  I *knew* it wasn't because the rhythm of the footsteps was wrong, and I couldn't hear any telltales from Sprout. I gripped my keys, ready to punch someone if need be, but rationalizing that I didn't have a purse/sack and no pockets and therefore was not a target, I kept walking. Stupid.

As I turned a corner, I could hear snuffly giggling and a shadow coming up fast behind me.  I stupidly kept walking and did not get my back up against a car. A boy, probably 12 or 13 years old, grabbed my butt--but not just one of my cheeks, right between them--and then ran off laughing with a band of about 6 other boys. I obviously couldn't chase them down under normal circumstances and it was certainly out of the question being 6 months pregnant and wearing Birkenstocks. So I just cussed and called him a bad name, which made me feel like an effectual loser and just made him laugh. Such elegant behavior. Two boys stayed near me, and I asked if they were his friends. I knew they were, but they denied it. I kept asking where he lived, while walking back towards the clinic, hoping to find J.  They kept giggling and acting stupid, but I couldn't very well hit them upon suspicion. A man came along who didn't speak English, but he kicked the boys and ran them off, leading me believe my assumptions were correct that they were insulting/mocking me in Arabic as they tailed me.

By the time I reached J, the boys were long gone, but he still tried to find them.  I doubt I would recognize them in daylight.

I'm sure that they didn't have any "ill and violent" intent; they thought they were just pulling a hilarious, daring prank--go feel up the foreign woman in front of one's friends!--but I'm so outraged that their stupidity has made me feel unsafe in my own neighborhood. I'm angry at myself for not listening to my instincts. I feel so disgusted to have been pawed like that. I hate all the violent scenarios that keep popping into my head in which I beat the crap out of a kid.

Before this happened, an acquaintance offered to pick Sprout and me up this evening and take us to a nearby club since we will be going after dark. I told her that walking in the dark didn't bother me, but now I'm sad, and yes, outraged, to admit that I can no longer say the same. It was long and late into the night before I finally convinced myself to stop mentally chanting, "I hate this country."

What I *do* hate is that this attack came at a time when I had finally made some peace with being here another three years and was making progress to stay in a positive mental space...

Yeah, color me outraged.

Breathe in, breathe out.


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 3rd, 2013 11:16 am (UTC)
Three years, seriously? I didn't realize you guys were going to have to be there so long :-(

I'm really really sorry. What a dreadful thing, that that's how those boys are getting their jollies :-(

Nov. 3rd, 2013 11:20 am (UTC)
Yes. Three more, Lord help us.

Nov. 3rd, 2013 11:27 am (UTC)
Ughh, I fear for your mental health :-(

Can you take martial arts? Not that that helps you if you are confronted by an entire gang, and it could just escalate situations. I don't know. These cultures where women are targets just for being out in public are ... not fun places to be.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 11:40 am (UTC)
Teehee. Mental health, me fears for it, too!!!! Seriously though, I do need to cultivate and dwell more on positive experiences. Something that helps is the baby coming along. I know--oh boy do I know--that the baby will not be "problem-fixer" and will add a lot more fatigue, etc. BUT! What will also happen is that time will fly! Making time fly is one of my main strategies right now. I'm finding or pinpointing or creating events or things to look forward to. When I break down the coming year like that, it feels totally manageable, and that, my friend, is very essential.

I'm going to get J to walk me through some stuff I can do. I already have before, but a) it's been a while, b) I must practice, c) I have to learn to be more paranoid in the sense that I need to move more quickly into the "fight or flight" mode.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 11:17 am (UTC)
Ugh, I can understand you feel violated, but luckily it was "just" kids. Stupid kids who could do with a lesson, but kids nonetheless. Still, yeah, be careful and look after yourself - and you are going to be furious about this for a long time to go, but that's also normal and healthy.

And if you look at it the other way, you did get help from a local, so there is good as well as bad.

And no need to second guess yourself, I think you acted admirably.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 11:22 am (UTC)
What I really want to come from this experience is that I finally start LISTENING to myself!
Nov. 3rd, 2013 11:28 am (UTC)
This is a good point: that a local guy found the behavior reprehensible too.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 11:35 am (UTC)
Yeah, I don't think he fully grasped what was going on, but he could tell they were bothering me and that I was upset.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 11:45 am (UTC)
I am sorry to hear it.

And it makes me angry.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 07:55 pm (UTC)
A very angry-making situation, unfortunately. *sigh*
Nov. 3rd, 2013 12:43 pm (UTC)
I am thankful that you weren't subjected to a dangerous physical attack. Of course you feel frightened and angry, but you are all right, and your loved ones are all right. I am not so sure that incidents like this one happen only in places like Egypt. I think it may just be the way some males are. I was walking along the streets on Manhattan one day when a guy came running from the opposite direction and grabbed my breast as he went by. That the local man chased the boys away shows that decent males can also be found anywhere. Still, I think that becoming more "paranoid" might be a good idea.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 02:23 pm (UTC)
Sadly, it happened to me in Paris, too. On the Champs-Elysees while it was very crowded, but I got to punch that guy and kick him. It was someone from the Maghreb that time. Then another time, further down the Champs it happened yet again (French-looking guy, but I don't know), but he was a runner like your Manhattan jerk.

*snarl* Some people (men? I've never heard similar women-as-aggressor stories) can be such pigs.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 02:41 pm (UTC)
Ugh, I'm sorry - I'm glad at least there was the man who only spoke arabic to drive the assholes away. (And also to prove that it isn't the country, it's only a subset of people - I'm sure most people would be appalled at boys acting like that.)
Nov. 3rd, 2013 07:56 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree that most people would be appalled, and that at least is comforting.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 03:55 pm (UTC)
Phew. I am glad you're safe.

I feel your frustration. Being assaulted by someone much younger and weaker than you is so infuriating because decency dictates that you can't fight back. We've had little kids throw rocks at our car (in one instance completely smashing the rear window--lucky there were no kids in the back because it was a huge rock and it landed right where the baby would have been. This was when my husband was driving through a neighborhood in East Jerusalem to get to the Mount of Olives) and it just makes me crazy that they can cause such damage but can't be held accountable for their actions. It's not like you're gonna march them back to their parents and give the parents an earful either.

I think you did everything you could under the circumstances. I hope it doesn't happen again.

Nov. 3rd, 2013 04:19 pm (UTC)
The one thing I might have suggested under the circumstances (and no, I don't think you're stupid for not doing this) would have been to turn around when you felt you were being followed. And not a quick glance over your shoulder, but a pointed, 180-degree, feet-firmly planted, I'm-looking-right-at-you turn.

We have this kind of counterproductive instinct to keep walking and wish that whatever it is will go away, and a fear that if we turn and face it, we'll make it worse. (This applies in far more than just situations of external threat...) But from a safety perspective, turning around and facing it is the safest thing you could possibly do. If whoever is behind you has no bad intentions, he'll just keep walking--aside from a possible moment of awkwardness, no harm will be done. If he does have bad intentions, it's much safer to be facing him when he moves in, and just turning around with conviction sends a signal that you are not to messed with, and this may deter a potential attacker.

In this case it probably wouldn't have done much--the kids would probably still have taunted you, though you may have been spared the grope--but it can be liberating to realize that you have the choice to turn around.

Nov. 3rd, 2013 07:57 pm (UTC)
that 180-degree is exactly what I'm mad at myself for not doing. :-< Oh well. I hope there won't be a next time, but I'm definitely not going to give in to the fear of creating an awkward moment.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 04:03 pm (UTC)
OMG, I'm so thankful you're not hurt. And, I so understand why you're angry. ::HUGS::
Nov. 3rd, 2013 07:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it is important to remember that it could have been worse...and to be more prepared next time to make sure it does not happen to get worse.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 07:33 pm (UTC)
Ugh! I'm outraged too. I admire the way you've managed to find positives out of the experience.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 07:59 pm (UTC)
:P If I don't find the positives, my mental health is definitely not going to make intact through the rest of our stay.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )


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