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Instead of talking about all the horrible situations where I was helpless (stalking, harassment, even being run over by a cyclist!) I want to talk about the time I had had enough. I don’t want to talk about the ones who laughed and sped off. I want to talk about the one where I took back control, and wound up getting a child molester arrested.
It was in 2009 or 2010, and I was in my final year of school at Sheridan College, a prestigious animation school in a well-to-do suburban town outside of Toronto. I and a friend from university rented a very nice townhouse in a small, secluded cul-de-sac near the school. It was early afternoon on a springy Saturday, and my boss had just dropped me off from work. I was puttering in the front yard, talking with my sweetheart on the phone and weeding the garden. Several neighbours and their children were out.
Our house backs on to a heavily wooded ravine, and has a few shaded areas not easily seen from the street. I was aware of a man milling about, but thought he was one of the neighbours, and so I ignored him. He hung around harmlessly enough for about 45 minutes. Because I figured he belonged there, I didn’t find him remarkable until he slunk up from beside my house and gestured to me. I realized that he was waving his limp penis at me and gesturing for me to come over –out of view of the street, back into the trees.
Something in me snapped. I didn’t think at all. I didn’t feel any fear. It was like all the horrible instances of harassment and stalking that had happened in the past went by me in a flash. I felt TOUGH. I felt ANGRY. This was MY HOUSE, MY YARD and MY STREET.
The first thing I shouted was “Olivia, lock the door” (My roommate was assaulted as a teen. For whatever reason my first instinct was to keep her out of the situation) The next thing I did was scream “Get the f*ck out of here! I don’t want to see that! What do you think you’re doing! You filthy pervert! I’m calling the cops”
A lot happened at once here. My poor boyfriend on the phone has no idea what’s happening as I inform him that there’s a pervert and I have to hang up and call the police. The man turns and saunters away from me –through the gate into my backyard! My three-year-old neighbour comes running over to see what’s going on. I snatched her up and took her with me back out into the street, and called 911.
The adrenaline finally started to wear off and I began to shake. My neighbour and landlady came out, and went to check the treeline. The police arrived. My boyfriend (now fiance!) showed up, out of breathe and barefoot (when I hung up on him to call 911, he dropped his phone and ran straight out of his apartment to my house, not even stopping to put shoes on –he thought a rapist had broken in). He was too winded to speak, and it took a few minutes to explain to the police that they didn’t need to arrest him!
My roommate (she’d gone to the back door when I yelled for her to lock the house, and watched our perv make his way through the yard) and I filed police reports, and incident reports with the property manager. She and our next door neighbour recognized my description, and the flasher was arrested a few blocks away. It turned out he had a history of this behaviour.
Here’s the real kicker, though — As the police are pulling up, Some sleazy young man (clearly drunk or high) had the gall to come up to me and say “He doesn’t mean it. It’s just my friend. he’s like this when he’s drunk! You don’t need to call the cops or anything. It’s no big deal” I looked him in the eye and asked if he had ever been assaulted. I said “It’s threatening. It’s a sexual threat. It’s not funny for us.” He shrugged and proceeded to hit on my roommate (SERIOUSLY?!).
Later on I was informed that our perv had been jailed. Following our report, they looked into the bastard’s history, and started asking his family some questions. He was the somewhat estranged father of a little girl on my street. When they questioned her about any “weird things” he might have done, she answered yes to every question.
Looking back, I’m glad I got angry instead of helpless. I had a lot of elements in my favour that day –it was daylight, I was on my own turf, and I had backup handy. I wish I’d gotten angrier. I wish I’d been using a shovel in the garden that day (self defence! I didn’t mean to castrate him!). It breaks my heart to think of what that little girl endured.
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