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Have you ever felt that some guy was following you down a dark, empty street? Or, that you should quicken your pace to get home from the neighborhood convenience store? Have you ever felt anxious while you’re walking down the subway stairs and catching a stranger’s eye?
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What is Rape Anxiety?
Most women have felt nervous and maybe even anxiety—at some point or another—like the ones described above. These feelings are associated with rape anxiety; an individual doesn’t necessarily have to be raped to suffer from rape anxiety. Simply put, it’s a fear of being violated or raped in public places.
Why Should We Talk About Rape Anxiety?
These feelings are quite common among women, yet, few talk about it. Maybe it’s not as serious as rape, but it IS an issue that needs to be discussed. It’s not emotionally or mentally healthy for women to frequently wrestle with the anxiety and fear of being raped.
For those who have experienced it, they will know how it feels to be overcome by fear when crossing a street with nobody around or waiting for the bus all by yourself. You feel knots tightening inside your stomach and it’s possible to feel almost suffocated with fear. So, these feelings should be communicated to men so that they understand what actions or words may unknowingly trigger or threaten a woman.
What Men Are Expected To Do
Men are expected to listen to a conversation about rape anxiety. They shouldn’t be close-minded or defensive, only saying “Not all men are the same.” Yes, that’s true… but it’s still very important for the conversation to be held. The first step is to sit with an open mind and listen. Only by an exchange of conversation can rape anxiety be explained and new thoughts shared.
When rape anxiety is being discussed, men should put themselves in the shoes of the women they know. They should try to be empathetic and imagine the fear that envelops women when they find themselves on an empty street after 8 pm.
Actions speak louder than words. Once men understand and empathize with the concept of rape anxiety, they are better equipped to protect women and interact in a way that helps women to feel less at risk and more secure.
When a co-worker makes a comment about some woman’s body, other men should stand up and speak out; it has to be communicated that this type of behavior is not okay.
On an empty street or alley, it’s best for men to slow their pace and if possible, keep some distance from a sole woman pedestrian.
Women have the right to feel at ease and safe wherever they go. Their physical weakness should never be taken advantage of. If a man is interested, he can look at a woman in a respectful way, checking her out without being seen as a threat to her physical vulnerability. So, here’s a question to all men out there: how would you feel if your daughter or mom or sister were in constant fear of being violated? And what measures would you be willing to take to ensure she felt safe and secure?
Do you have any other advice to share on rape anxiety? Please use the Comments section below.
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