Haunted

By Breda of The Breda Fallacy

They've found a body in the woods. Again. Another missing girl, woman, sister, mother, friend strangled, stabbed, shot, raped, mutilated, dismembered and tossed in the brush, in a ditch, beside railroad tracks, in a dumpster, in the ocean like so much garbage. The details don't really matter. They were all guilty of nothing more than perhaps smiling at the wrong man, speaking to the wrong stranger, being at the wrong place at the wrong time, not being wary enough while going about their daily lives, not realizing that they were prey, that someone was watching them, following them and thinking violent thoughts about them.

The photographs their loved ones give to the police are all eerily similar..a sideways smile, a dream behind the eyes. They could be me, or you, your best friend, your neighbor or your mother. And then the body is found and the coroner talks about needing dental records, about decomposition, about DNA. I can never get over the horror of it, those women, their thoughts and hopes and precious temples of flesh so quickly turned to nothing but scraps of meat and bones and if never found, nothing. Forgotten, except for the whispered hometown legends about the girl who got lost, disappeared without a trace.

How fragile we are.

Every time I hear another one of these stories, I decide that this will never happen to me. That I will not be a victim. A man will never understand the fear a woman has walking across a dark parking lot alone. How it may be a risky thing to take a walk by yourself around your own neighborhood. How no amount of judo or karate will make a difference if you are a small female person and there's a large male person who's running after you or, God forbid, has gotten close enough to put his hands on you.

I have two defenses. #1, listen to that internal warning alarm and pay attention to my surroundings and the people in it. #2, get my concealed carry permit. I'm halfway there.

"Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal."

Women, this is for you too. Don't be afraid of protecting yourself. You really are worth it.

Breda is a reference librarian and artist who writes at The Breda Fallacy.

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