I Refuse To Be A Victim

Just recently I posted a long rant in facebook about an incident that happened to me at a local mall in Butuan City and I was pissed – pissed beyond compare. I still am. I have grown tired of women being made victims by hooligans (even by juvenile ones) just because we were always known as easy targets. My patience has been exhausted by crimes, including petty ones, that inject fear into our hearts, making it impossible for us to live normal, peaceful lives. I am no longer satisfied with “letting it be and hoping that it will not happen again” because this thought is bullshit. Keeping mum about it and ‘hoping’ will not stop the next crime from happening. I will not be contented with the concept that although I am safe in my apartment, someone else is not and will still fall victim (God forbid, might not be as lucky as I was). 

fb rant

The rant.

These men, if we can even call them that, have generalized some women’s weaknesses or momentary lack of judgment as opportunities for unlawful behavior. Oh that woman is driving too slowly and taking her time in making that turn, maybe I can cut her off on that corner where the pole lights are not working. Ah, that woman is carrying too many things and is on her way to her car, maybe I can sneak behind her. Yeah that one’s easy – she left her car door unlocked while applying her lipstick, maybe I can fuck her brains out inside her car. Perfect, this one’s alone – let me fiddle with her car tires and if she comes out late, she has no where to run. She will not fight, she is just a girl.

I admit that I am scared but the audacity of these ideas is so sickening, that my anger overpowers my fear. I am tired of being afraid of these criminals. I am tired of them getting away with it, hence they become bolder every time. I am tired that these criminals will graduate to become leaders of bigger syndicates that have ripped our society into ten different directions, or more. I am tired of the oldest notion in the book – choose the most vulnerable as the victim – gracing headlines every now and then. That girl with a fancy handbag, steal from her. Those girls giggling in the corner, kidnap them. That woman in a mini skirt, rape her. That little girl playing outside her house, abuse her. That old lady in the fish market, take her earnings. That mother looks desperate, scam her of an overseas job that does not exist. I am tired of the word women being wrongly categorized as synonymous to the word victim (victim – I hate the word).

I am tired and when you are spent, you need to throw the truth out there because it does not belong in your diary.   

My facebook rant went on like this:

“Women drivers, word of caution. Long read but might help keep you safe.

Please be careful where you park your cars. An incident happened to me last night in Robinsons Mall Butuan City. I parked my car in the mall’s front parking space, near the entrance, because I had to buy something there. My car was fine when I left it. After 2 hours, I was done with my chores. First thing I noticed when I was walking towards my car (good thing I decided to leave the mall early) was the man standing beside it. Although I was unnerved by him, I decided to brush it off rationalizing that maybe he was waiting for someone. He looked decent enough and even smiled (in fact, was too friendly) when I approached. However, I took out my screamer just to make sure. No incident (yet).

When I was driving off, second thing I noticed was the the steering wheel was acting funny but I decided to continue driving anyway because I planned to drop by Bo’s coffee before heading home, which was just nearby. I thought then I’ll just check it once I’m there. I knew halfway to Bo’s that my tires were flat. I slowed down and still drove all the way to the coffee shop. The guard in Bo’s told me that my tires were flat and that I should get my car to a vulcanizing shop. No shop was open by then, but thank God that the Caltex station was still open right across the street. I stepped out to check the damage and was taken aback when I saw the same guy in the parking lot, just few paces away, also there but on a motorcycle with another guy, watching. He was starting to creep me out. The guard helped me in getting my car to Caltex where the gas boy assisted me. He said there was nothing wrong with my tires, just that they didn’t have air. While he was fixing it, I looked at where the creepy man and his friend were standing. He was talking to someone on his phone while the other one was watching me. I was paranoid by this time. The gas boy asked where I have been travelling and even reprimanded me to always check my tires before driving. I told him that I just came from Robinsons where I parked my car and the tires where fine prior to that. In fact, I was able to drive around the city doing other tasks without an incident. I was watching the creepy men when I was explaining this to him, so he also looked at the direction where I was staring at and saw the creepy men.

The gas boy then told me, “Ma’am, ayaw na sa pagabii og uli na. Diretso sa inyong balay og ayaw og hunong. Nay gang, mga batan-un, karon na gapanghilabot sa ligid sa sakyanan og ang ilang target kay mga babae na drivers na naginusara lang. Pag-naabtan kag gabii, ang style kay lisod naman makakitag sakyanan diri, sila mutabang kunohay nimu. Hold-up og grabe, rape na dayun.”

(Ma’am, don’t go home late. Go straight home and don’t stop. There’s a gang, a group of young boys, who fiddle with car tires and their targets are women drivers who were alone. If you got caught late at night, by then it will be difficult to find transportation here, they will pretend to help you but it will be hold-up or worst, rape.)

He then told me to stay put for a while and not go anywhere until the two men left. After half an hour, they sped away. I drove my car home feeling sick, thinking of what could have happened. I checked my tires when I got home and had them checked again today at a shop — they are fine! Someone messed with them last night and this makes me angry. Attacking women, making women vulnerable because these imbeciles think that women are easy targets. Well maybe we are if we don’t equip ourselves with the right skills and the right presence of mind when incidents like these happen. Thank you, assholes, for teaching women like me the hard lesson of protecting ourselves further.

Women, we have to be vigilant. We have to pay more attention to what’s happening around us, learn self-defense at an entirely different level, and to remember the most important rule—remove yourself from the location where harm or possible harm was initiated.

Be careful.”

I was not even certain that my rant was this long. I was just typing the status on my phone and was trying to be as detailed as possible about the incident. So far it has been shared 5 times, liked 41 times, and several messages have been exchanged which I truly appreciated. I want people to know that this is actually happening. I want people to stop thinking that stories like this are just a product of our generation’s paranoia. It is real and it is important that we keep ourselves aware.

This is not a call to arms. This is about me wanting my rights to a secure and safe community to be acknowledged. I want to be able to sleep soundly at night, wake up in the morning without thinking about possible incidents, and not constantly look over my shoulder to worry about being followed or not. This is about me wanting the same rights to be practiced by others.

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