I rarely go out to party late at night, and it’s even more rare for me to get home way past midnight. Usually when I party, I prefer to go out in the evening around 6 or 7, and get home by 11. It’s partially because I don’t drink and dislike being around really drunk people (the amount of alcohol consumed seems to correlate with how late it is), but also because I enjoy getting to bed at a reasonable time and not let one evening of fun fuck up my sleeping schedule for the rest of the week. But I digress.
This evening was different. I hadn’t gone out in a while. A lot of my friends were going. The venue was actually very nice looking compared to some of the dumps I’ve seen in the past. I was really looking forward to going out with my friends and having a blast, which I did. We danced until almost 3 in the morning. Two of my friends were staying to party a little longer, and another one of my friends was taking a cab home. I decided to walk since I only lived about 10 minutes away. Later I regretted that I didn’t take that cab with my friend.
Not more than a couple of minutes after leaving the venue did I get approached by a guy on a bike. He came up to me from behind, and asked a question about where place X was. During the day, I’m used to giving people directions, so my instinct was to respond. And my initial thought was that since he was on a bike and asked for directions, he must have been going somewhere and genuinely didn’t have any interest in chitchatting or being creepy. But I was wrong. I started giving directions, but he hopped off his bike and told me that he knows where place X is. Then he quickly changed the conversation. I started walking again, and he started following me. He asked me for directions simply because it was a way for him to “harmlessly” approach me and get me to respond, even though he didn’t need any directions at all. He trapped me into a conversation with him and started following me without even asking if it was ok.
The guy was very talkative. He talked a lot about himself and his own opinions. And I just walked silently next to him, nodding my head occasionally or muttering a “mhm”. I figured that maybe he would see my disinterest and leave me alone, but he didn’t. He kept following me. And like I said earlier, I lived somewhat close to where the party was, so we started getting closer and closer to where I lived. And I definitely didn’t want to reveal this to a guy who thinks it’s ok to follow a girl home at three in the morning while forcing a conversation onto her.
As we were getting closer to my place, it got harder for me to focus on the conversation (or, well, the monologue). I started thinking about what I should do if things were to turn ugly. What I should say and how I should act to not provoke this man. This man, that I knew nothing about. Did he have a history of aggression and abuse? I didn’t know. What was his personality like? Well, right off the bat he came off as manipulative (pretending to need directions just to open a conversation about something else) and self-centered or narcissistic (only talking about himself and his own opinions). And that’s not good. Narcissistic people tend to not have a problem with using manipulation, and possibly force, to get what they want. Could I outrun him? Possibly, it didn’t seem like his stamina was the best since he did get very out of breath while we were walking up a short hill. But then again, he did have the upper hand since he had a bike. I could have started screaming if things turned ugly. But there was almost nobody around. And I’d read that article about how there were like 40 witnesses to a rape that was broadcasted live on facebook, but none of them called the cops.
What if that happened to me if I started screaming? It’s very common for bystanders to expect someone else to intervene…
All those thoughts were rushing through my head. I tried to calculate every possible outcome, what I should and shouldn’t do. After all this was a stranger, I had no way of knowing how he would react and if he would get violent.
I remember one part of the conversation very clearly. He started talking about how he thinks he’s a great guy. That he’s just doing me a favor by walking me home. That other guys would take advantage of the situation and the fact that I was alone. When he said “take advantage”, he took a quick and threatening step towards me to make a point. It scared the shit out of me. He held eye contact with me with a blank stare for a second, but then his lips broke out into a smirk.
But I wouldn’t do that.
After 5 minutes of him talking about himself, he started asking me questions. Seeing as how he’d had this massive monologue about nothing but himself, I wasn’t really prepared for him shifting his attention to me. He asked me what my name was. I lied and told him my name was Charlotte – the first random name that came to mind. My real name would be way too easy for him to find on facebook. Then he asked me what I’m studying and what school I go to. I lied about that as well. I tried my best to keep my cool.
So, we were coming dangerously close to where I live. Luckily, we’d taken a route that ended with two options: either take a bunch of stairs to get to another street, or keep walking around the neighborhood. When we reached the stairs, I thought I could try to naturally end the conversation, and that he would maybe feel a sense of acceptance because he had his bike and maybe didn’t want to carry it down all the stairs. I felt quite clever. I stopped by the stairs and politely told him that I could walk home from here. He looked confused, but then asked me for my contact information – facebook, number, anything. I remembered how he’d told me I was beautiful and pretty, right at the beginning of the conversation when he had hopped off his bike. I had taken that as him showing his intentions (he was not just looking for a friend in the middle of the night, he probably never would have approached another guy in that way). So, I turned him down, letting him know that I had a boyfriend.
He rolled his eyes. “Obviously” that wasn’t why he had approached me, complimented me and started following me home at 3 am. He started ranting about how the people in my country always keep to themselves, never want to interact with strangers, and that we look funny at anyone who tries to be social. These things are true to an extent, the people of my country are pretty shy and introverted, but considering the context of the situation (strange guy following girl home at 3 am), I don’t see how this was relevant at all. The conversation started to turn ugly. He started implying that he had done me a favor by following me home. That the people in my country “always take but never think of giving back”, making sure to tell me that he was “of course speaking in a general sense” and not directing this at me. He tried to make me feel bad for turning him down, and tried to manipulate me into thinking that I owe him something, like my number. I stayed silent during his rant.
Then he said something along the lines of “I would even prefer it if you just gave me your number or your facebook but didn’t contact me”. I started boiling on the inside. First, this man forced a conversation with me and started following me home in the middle of the night, without even asking me if it was ok. I NEVER asked him to follow me or to talk to me. And after that he somehow still felt self-entitled, as if I owed him for this super “gentlemanly gesture” that I never even wanted in the first place. And as if that wasn’t enough, he was hypocritical enough to claim that it would be even “better” if I gave him my contact info but then ignored him. For the first time during these 10-15 minutes of being followed home, I didn’t care about my own safety. I snapped.
“So you would prefer to have someone be dishonest with you?” I asked.
“What?” he said, confused.
I’m standing here being honest with you, I don’t want to give my contact information. How is that worse than me giving my contact info but then ignoring you? Isn’t it better than I’m being upfront about what I want?
He was silent for a few seconds, but then started giving excuses. Quite frankly I don’t even remember what his response was, because it didn’t make any sense. At this point we had been standing by the stairs for like 5 minutes, most of which I had spent listening to him rant, him trying to make me feel guilty. It had already taken us about 15 minutes to get there because he had been walking so slowly with his bike. I would have already been home by now if this jackass hadn’t started following me home.
When his excuses came to a natural pause, I interrupted him. “Thank you for your perspective. Good night.”
I turned around and started walking down the stairs. He shouted at me, “Hey Charlotte, if you ever see me, don’t be afraid of coming up to me.”
I laughed silently to myself. Not because it had been a funny encounter. Not because I was excited at the thought of seeing him again. But because this douche actually thought that I would ever willingly walk up to him if I saw him.
In the end, I was lucky enough to not have anything happen to me. But those 15-20 minutes of uncertainty were horrible. I was so scared. Constantly trying to read his body language and figure out what my next move would be. And even when he had left, I was still looking over my shoulder to make sure that he wasn’t following me anymore, that he wouldn’t end up knowing where I live. What angers me the most is knowing that he probably doesn’t even remember me anymore. That I’m the one stuck with this scary memory that makes me angry every time I think about it. That he will never stop to think about how narcissistic and gross his actions were. That he will probably do this to other girls in the future.
I know now not to say shit to strange men at night. No eye contact. No response. I will keep walking, have my head held high and focus on the road in front of me. Maybe I’ll even go as far as calling someone I know and talk to them while walking home. My safety is worth more than a stranger’s ego. It’s sad that I had to learn that through a situation like this, but now I’m just thankful that I got rid of him safely.