Everything I Want To Say To The Man Who Decided To Follow Me Home

by Sara Caliva

I hate being scared.

I know many people say it's normal and it keeps you alert, and I'm sure that's true, but I hate it nonetheless. I force myself to take elevators even though I'm claustrophobic because I hate when fear wins.

I look down when I'm up high even if it makes me dizzy because I won't let anxiety make me miss the view. But right now, fear is winning. And I'm struggling to keep it at bay.

Fear is winning, and I'm struggling to keep it at bay.

I recently had a man try and follow me into my apartment building, and I can't shake the fear.

I can't get back my sense of privacy and security. I'm scared and I'm angry.

The worst part is I'm pretty sure he was harmless. So I should feel relief, right?

I should be grateful he wasn't aggressive and he wandered away when I slammed the security door in his face. Trust me, I'm beyond thankful nothing bad really happened. But it's over for him, and I'm still not OK.

I wrote the man who followed me home a letter because the internet lets us do that in order to heal.

So I wrote him a letter because that's what the internet lets us do in these situations.

Dear Sir,

I don't know you and you don't know me, so I'm baffled at why we're having this conversation.

I'm perplexed as to why whatever you had to say (or do) superseded my right to feel safe at my place of residence.

Maybe you wanted to tell me I was pretty. Maybe you wanted to ask me about my car. Yes, I have a yellow Fiat and yes I like it.

Maybe you just wanted to say hi and tell me to smile. But I don't talk to strange men on street corners, and I can't walk and smile at the same time. I'm not coordinated like that.

I don't talk to strange men on street corners, and I can't walk and smile at the same time.

We both know I don't know the answer to those maybes because I didn't give you the chance. But it doesn't matter. That's not the point. The point is you saw me from across the street and you followed me.

You could've yelled your question, or turned around when you saw me enter the first door of my building. You could've stayed on your side of the road and left me alone.

But you didn't do any of those things.

You crossed over the threshold forcing me to do what my mother has always taught me to be an act of rudeness -- slam a door in someone's face.

I didn't like doing that. I debated in the few seconds I had whether you lived in my building or were visiting a friend.

I second-guessed myself because I've been told one too many times I'm paranoid, and not every guy is trying to hit on me.

I second-guessed myself because I've been told I'm paranoid, and not every guy is trying to hit on me.

I questioned whether or not I was being impolite, but you never hesitated to cross a very dangerous line.

I could've called the cops. I could've used the pepper spray I didn't have, on you. Was it worth it? Silly question, I know. You've already forgotten.

It doesn't occur to you that I now walk into my apartment in fear. That I count the number of bags I'm allowed to carry in once it's dark.

Do you know what that feels like?

It's Christmas season and Target is open until midnight, but I can't stay late or buy too much unless my parents drive me home because I'm scared.

Did you lock yourself in your apartment and sob that night? Of course not. You ate the takeout you were letting get cold while you invaded my space.

Do you know what it's like to be a strong independent woman and need your guy friend to talk you down from the panic, and insist you call him the next time something like this happens?

He checks on me now to make sure I get home OK. He walks me to my car.

Those are kind and appreciated gestures I'm sure he'd do anyway, but I need them now. They aren't niceties anymore. They're what calms the fear you gave me.

I'd like the gift receipt please; it's not my size, it doesn't fit.

I love my apartment and I love my life.

I'll be diligent and smart, I won't let fear control me.

I know I'll fight like hell to let this go and keep being me. I'll be diligent and smart, but I won't let fear control me.

I know you don't care. I know you'll never think of me again, but I want you to know you won't win the fight you don't even know we're having.

And next time sir, I will knee you in the balls.


The Woman You Followed Home