Am I the only one concerned for my safety when walking in a remote area alone?

Yesterday Yannick and I enjoyed an incredibly rare moment in time where we blocked off a good chunk of it smack dab in the middle of the day to treat ourselves to a date.  We had been gifted a spa credit for a couples massage from our kids for Christmas, and finally got around to using it.  It was glorious.  Some of the best treatments we’ve ever had.  If you’re in Toronto and want to splurge and really treat yourself I highly recommend you have lunch at Cafe Boulud and then a massage at the Four Seasons in Yorkville.  It’s well worth the hit your bank account will take.  Throughout our entire time I kept thinking about how incredibly thankful I was for the opportunity to spend some time like that with my husband, as well as being thankful for having the means, the time along with the human being that I love beyond compare to have that experience with.  It was truly one of my favorite date days in a very long while.

After the spa we didn’t want our leisurely time to end there, we both wanted to get outside, the sun was shining, the leaves were rustling and we have two dogs that love romping through the ravine.  So off we went, dogs in tow for a little early evening walk.

This is where we encountered so many off leash dogs that I mentioned in my post yesterday.  For the most part the dogs off their leashes were very well mannered, and didn’t approach our on leash guys, but, there were a couple who did the “walk by then turn back around and take a sniff at their backsides” move that makes Kohl jump.  I really wish dogs wouldn’t do this, or that owners wouldn’t allow them to, but c’est le vie everybody thinks they have that dog that won’t cause a fight.   And maybe your dog won’t but, you’re seriously taking for granted that mine won’t either.  You don’t know my dog, I do, which is why my guy is on his leash.  But whatever, like I mentioned yesterday, I just hope it never comes down to Kohl being attacked while on leash and muzzled up, cuz that would be ugly and unjust on every level.

The thing that struck me as interesting about our hike wasn’t all the dogs off their leashes, I’m used to seeing that in Toronto.  What I found most upsetting during our walk was a gut reaction I had to seeing three young men, maybe in their mid-twenties entering the ravine while we were walking out of it; one had a back pack and the other two didn’t.  My thought as I walked past them was; “Wow, I’m really glad I’m here with my husband, and that I have one big dog with me for my safety.”

Isn’t that odd?  Or rather isn’t that sad that as a woman that was my thought when I encountered three young men, with not a dog between entering a ravine at dusk.  The fact that my instinct to that scenario was fear bothered me.  I said out loud to YB how sad I found that as a woman that would be my first thought.  I asked him as a man did he also think anything like that when he saw them.  He said no, he didn’t experience a fearful thought, rather, his mind immediately went to sizing up the biggest guy, and planning his defense strategy, which always, for both of us involves first letting Kohl off leash and using both him, and his leash as a weapon.

Strange days we live in aren’t they?  I mean I suppose not everybody thinks like this, surely the young woman running through the ravine with her headset in, with her very strong, capable pit bull cross off leash running along side her, hadn’t given any thought to a possible attack by three men.  Nor did the lovely Scottish grandma we came across in there with her grandson enjoying nature together.  So I guess it was just me and Yannick thinking this way, which got me thinking; what came first, the chicken or the egg?  Is it because I’ve been attacked so many times in my life that I fear it and recognize it as something that might happen?  And does Yannick feel the same because he knows my history?  Or is it because of what feels like escalating random acts of violence that we hear about more and more that make us think this way?  Are we products of our pasts?  Or products of our society??  This my friends is something that really makes me go “hmmm…” what about you?  What are your thoughts on this?

11 Comments

  1. You are not the only one. I think this way too. I run and have a wonderful park right near my house but won’t run in it as I have encountered several people that made me pause. I won’t go in there alone. If I am running on my own, I stick to my neighbourhood and sidewalks as I feel safter.

  2. Oh man, you are not the only one who thinks this way. There’s areas I don’t walk after dark because they aren’t busy enough with people, if I go certain places in the daytime (Hamilton) like climbing the stairs up the escarpment or using a trail I make sure I go when it’s busy and I’m not on it alone in case I run into a creep. I don’t really use headphones because I like to be aware of what’s going on, I get antsy if I take the bus when it’s dark , especially after 10. I walk past the dark deserted parking lot near my house superfast and hope no one is lurking in it, I sometimes cross the street so I don’t have to walk through a group of men if I’m alone, I feel safer having a buddy with me especially after dark, I make sure I go home half an hour before the stores close so I’m not in a deserted parking lot or bus stop, etc etc. It’s really sad that these are things I have to consider every single day and now they are 2nd nature. I’d love to ride my bike alone on one of the bike trails in the woods and just enjoy the peacefulness of nature all by myself but I don’t dare go out alone. Another thing I do is carry my phone and money and cards in my pockets in case someone tried to take my purse there’s nothing valuable in it. Whew, now I’m exhausted thinking about it all.

  3. I think for you it’s all of the above. For me and Yannick, it’s the sign of the times. You never know anymore. Seems the young thugs target the weaker person they see. If I were alone without my dog (yes I finally got my German Shepherd), I would have been shook. Case in point, years ago, when my father was hospitalized, my mother was walking to her car, at night, in a not real nice neighborhood where this hospital was. There were 2 men walking behind her and she sorta panicked and tried to walk faster, all the while keeping them in her peripheral vision. Well, she tripped and went flat out onto the sidewalk. These 2 men, rushed over and picked her up. They couldn’t have been nicer. They wanted to take her back into the hospital but she said she was fine, just scraped knees and hands, They made sure she got in her car and she thanked them. She said she felt foolish, but I told her she shouldn’t. It’s better to air on the side of caution.
    Today, Shantelle, you just don’t know. I hate being fearful, so I don’t go out alone at night, whether at work going to my car or otherwise. I’m not a young as I used to be, and although I’m feisty as hell, I know I’m not as strong and could not defend myself as I could have 20 years ago.

  4. You mentioned, somewhere, the book “The Gift of Fear”. You experienced it. We have to trust that inner voice and, if alone, find a way to protect ourselves. Sadly, we probably experience these feelings more because of the craziness around us. I say, better safe than sorry.

  5. I think women are well aware of their vulnerability when alone. I avoid shopping after dark. My campus has a student escort service for anyone leaving classes at night. I check my backseat before I get in, I carry my keys so I can hop in quickly. Parks are tricky because they are remote and it would take a long time to get help. I rarely see solitary walkers, male or female. I don’t go downtown after dark to a show unless I’m with someone. Truthfully, I feel a lot safer in Europe than I do in my own country.

    I didn’t realize men have the same apprehensions. But men get mugged too, so I can see why YB was alert. He has to protect both of you.

    My son in law took my grandsons to a matinee movie and he apparently parked too close to this guy’s shiny truck. As he got out with the boys, the guy brandished a gun at him. He got the boys inside and went to all the cops but the guy left in a hurry. You can conceal carry on Ohio but it’s illegal to threaten someone with a gun. I think we are crazy. Well, I’m not, but a lot of Americans are so it’s sensible to avoid trouble by being careful and aware of your surroundings.

  6. I grew up in downtown Toronto (Cabbage Town) and had no fear. Street smarts reigned! Left TO in 1976as a young bride & moved to Alberta. Except for a few years in Calgary, I have mostly lived in small towns. I am more fearful of encountering the large local wildlife than people, but I would be frighten nowadays to be in a large city. Older and no longer street smart. 🙁

  7. I think we are a product of both our personal history and of society. And sadly society is spiralling ever downwards at present. We see people becoming more and more callous, mainly online, but sadly the way people are communicating IRL is becoming increasingly horrible, too. We have people in power who don’t seem to care how they treat other people, and that sort of thing filters down.

  8. Know exactly where you and YB are coming from with this. Even though I have never been personally attacked, it does have to do with the increase, or seeming increase) in random and purposeful violence. For me, it started a long time ago now, after the 9/11 attacks. Hate to admit in a public forum, but the first time I got on a plane after that there was a moment of fear…after the seatbelt sign went off a man with a turban stood up..he was only going to the restroom. I’m sure I was not the only one on the plane who experienced a fearful moment, and then I realized what a shame it was that that man was being judged harshly because of what he was wearing connected him to violent acts by others.
    Saving grace was that even though me and others may have had this terrible feeling, nobody acted upon it. You cannot control what you feel, you can only control your actions. It does not hurt at all to be streetwise these days1

  9. Congrats, on your special time together. I know how busy you both are. I agree with you both about being in a park by yourself. When I am with my husband, I feel safe. When I am by myself it seem that I am always looking behind and walk just a little faster. It seems that life has changed so much. Violence is every where and you just have to be vigilant. Shantelle you are not alone…💖👍🐝bj

  10. Have had some good friends who are police officers. Living in Vancouver where there are huge parks, mountains on the North Shore with hiking trails extending miles, they occasionally talked to me about personal safety. One activity which I have never engaged in is walking along park trails alone. Mostly am not paranoid, but with their cautions, I heard them. It’s really a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Random assaults, or even homicides, in these areas, mostly are down to being vulnerable as a women. Even men now have to think about personal safety. So, apart from that being off limits for me, even if I’d really enjoy the activity, I stay away from inner trails in parks. Others on a periphery are safer with more using those paths, like our seawalls in Vancouver. It comes down to being smart if alone. If running, it’s advised not to wear ear buds, especially as it’s distraction from being alert to the surroundings. If someone is walking behind you, making you feel unsafe, the thing to do is stop, turn around and just ask (usually a man or male youth) to walk in front. Or stop and tie a shoelace again, so they can naturally then be walking in front. That was another tip from a constable friend. For women in the world, it is definitely different.

  11. No, you are not the only one who feels this way. I share the same anxiety. I am, however, 66. I am in relatively good shape, but that doesn’t mean I would fare well in the event of an attack. My husband works evenings, so I am home alone, and I don’t go out by myself for just this reason. I run my errands after work, and that’s that. I don’t like it, but I would rather err on the side of caution than end up a statistic. I eyeball everyone, even tend to think like your husband, and make no bones about letting the “other” know I am aware they are in my sphere, so to speak. I live in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is just across the Missouri River from Omaha, Nebraska. Some may think that because it’s in the plains of the United States that crime isn’t as rampant as it is elsewhere. Per capita? Think again. It’s becoming a sad world, and I am sorry to see it morph into this mess. Take care.

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