Ashley’s Story: “That’s when I started crying”

I live in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, a city I love. The people here are incredibly helpful, hospitable and kind, especially to foreigners like me. I’m very independent, and have always felt safe here.

But earlier this week I saw a woman nearly have her purse stolen. The would-be mugger jumped into a taxi before I, or anyone else, could take action.

So I was a little on edge when, entering a covered pedestrian overpass, I noticed a young man walking a little too closely, and too directly, behind me.

I slid my arms through both my backpack straps, thinking he might try to grab it off my shoulder. But that’s not what he had in mind.

I was wearing a skirt and tights, and before I knew it he had his fingers between my legs.

I spun around to face a surprisingly clean-cut, well-dressed young man. He was turning away from me, but I grabbed him, furious.

I started shouting horrible things at him in English, having forgotten all my Georgian curses in the heat of the moment. “You f**king piece of shit!” I screamed as I started beating his head and chest. “What the f**k do you think you’re doing, you waste of f**king space!” I punched his ear, slapped his face, pounded on his arms and shoulders.

He started to walk away, in the direction I needed to go. This only made me angrier. I grabbed him again, inflicting more verbal and physical abuse.

What struck me now, in hindsight, is how shocked and confused he looked. He didn’t fight back, didn’t say anything – he was frozen. What did he expect to happen? What would a Georgian woman have done?

When he finally started moving in the opposite direction, I screamed, “Get the f**k out! Get the f**k away from here!” and finished crossing the underpass.

That’s when I started crying.

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