I’m one of the lucky ones.
Even though I was born and raised in a major metropolitan community, my run-in with violence as a young woman in the city was pretty much nonexistent.
I always heard the scary stories of the "friend of a friend" who was robbed or beaten up walking home from school; after all, I did go to high school in the inner city of Milwaukee where violence was more rampant than in Menomonee Falls or Sussex, for example.
As I grew up, I started hearing more and more about women getting drugged at house parties near my home on the east side of Milwaukee, or at bars I started to frequent as a newly turned 21-year-old several years ago.
I'm ashamed to say the first time an acquaintance described a night out where she thought she was drugged, my first thought was that she made it up because who would do something like that? She probably just drank too much, I remember thinking.
I was always the lucky one so it was easy for me to judge.
I’d like to think I’m quite street smart; I’ve always watched over my drinks and used the buddy system in crowded places; I always made sure my phone was charged when I went out and that my loved ones knew where I was. I refused to walk home alone at night.
The text messages to friends after I made it home safe quickly became second nature.
Statistics prove that it’s not a matter of this heightened awareness or knowledge that never made me a victim; it really is luck.
As women, we’re just generally more likely to have pretty terrible things done to us.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports in Wisconsin nearly 13 percent of women will be stalked in their lifetime. One in three women in the U.S. have already experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, and 72 percent of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner; 94 percent of the victims of these crimes are women.
While violent situations as a woman are sometimes just purely unavoidable, it definitely doesn’t hurt to take precautionary measures.
When I was in college at Mount Mary University, I took a class where it was required that we complete a self-defense workshop; all schools should do that, private and public.
What I learned in that session was how vulnerable I would be in a violent situation. The scenario we were given was a man approaching us in an empty parking lot with a weapon, trying to kidnap us.
We were told to scream, drop as low to the ground as possible if we were attacked from behind, as if in a squatting position, and of course, run if at all possible.
The real test of how you would react doesn’t come until you’re really attacked, and as I previously mentioned, I’ve never been tested.
I think I’ve got the screaming part down, but the closest thing to the test was when my brother and I would wrestle as pre-teens, and although he is four years younger, he would always win.
What is more harmful than acts of violence is failing to acknowledge that they happen.
Just as it’s important to have these conversations about violence against women — and everyone — with your loved ones, it’s also important to know your resources if you become a victim of violence: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or go online to DomesticShelters.org to find help.