I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this day for the past few weeks. Thanksgiving is later than it was last year, so this day hit before the holiday. To be very honest, I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to be in Mobile for Thanksgiving. Which may surprise you, because it kinda surprised me. I’m a really strong person, but the thought of being there, THEN upset me (ironically, I’m driving home today).
I took the time to go back and reread my post and every single comment from it. Those comments brought me to tears. It still amazes me how much it blew up on social media. My little ole blog made it to Reddit and the Women’s Running Magazine blog. INSANE to me. I just wanted to write to get it out, to help protect someone else, to just remind everyone how easily it can happen. And it did get out. I truly hope it impacted someone’s life and made them more aware of their surroundings.
To give you an update if you have missed any of it: Martell Malone is out of jail. He paid his bond right before I had to face him in court on January 2nd. Yes, JANUARY 2nd. That was a LONG time ago. Way back on that day they decided there was enough evidence to go to a grand jury. Well, I just found out about a month ago that he was FINALLY indicted by the grand jury and now I wait for a “real” court date. Here’s hoping for 2014? I had hoped to have it all behind me in 2013, but that doesn’t look possible. What I find so disgusting about it all is that he is back to being a photographer (poor, poor innocent people who are clueless and letting him photograph their daughters) and living his life normally. Who knows what he is getting away with. Talk about a broken justice system. 3rd arrest and I believe 9 total charges all of similar sexual issues and out free to do what he wants. Yes, I know, innocent until proven guilty (he was found guilty the previous two arrests and had to seek therapy/take classes I think). So hard to hear when you are the victim.
Each day that I hear about a rape, or someone that has gone missing, or even a murder of a female, I am so sorry for that individual but thankful that my assault wasn’t worse. My incident seems so trivial compared to those things, but it still affects you. I may not talk about it often because I consider myself to be a strong individual and like to be positive and not dwell on the past or the negative…but let me share with you how I feel and how my thoughts work now, post assault. Honestly, I think my fear and anxiety is worse now than it was this time a year ago.
I can’t run a 1/4 of a mile alone without looking behind me. Not kidding, I turn around at least 3-4 times per mile to make sure no one is behind me. My heart races. I sometimes just pick up speed in fear. I only run with one earbud. I run with my phone-ALWAYS. I run with mace (wristsaver on my sidebar). I use the RoadID app so that my mom and sister know when I’ve gone on a run and where I am running. I stare everyone in the face that I pass (to be aware of them and their features). I jump at any little noise I hear behind me.
As an example, two weeks ago I was running on the beltline in Atlanta. It’s FULL of people. I could see this biker in the corner of my eye but he wasn’t passing me. He was riding behind me. So I turned my head. Nothing. I moved out of the way. Nothing. I sped up. He wouldn’t move. I turned around again. Heart racing, panic beginning. Finally, the man said, “you are fine, it’s okay.” He was probably in his 70s and couldn’t bike faster than he was going-on a leisurely ride. I freaked for no reason, but he had no idea that it was my paranoia, he thought I was concerned with being in his way. My point is, THIS is how my brain works now. More or less, fearing the worst.
But it’s not just running. I’m the crazy girl who won’t walk down the street without my taser. I am scared to get out of my car at night. I keep my alarm set every night. And again, 100% honesty, I struggle with racial profiling men who look like him (anyone watch Law & Order SVU? There was an episode like this earlier this season).
I go back and forth between hatred for Martell and then somewhat understanding that it heightened my senses. It all had to happen for a reason, right?
I have had breakdowns and hysterics more than once. Just because. I hate being scared. I hate the feeling of fear. I had a breakdown at the bar in Destin this summer because I thought I saw him. Legit, full on tears and panic attack type breathing.
Again, I know I am so lucky. I truly cannot imagine had things been worse for me. This alone is enough anxiety and fear. I can tell you I still stand by every tip I gave on my list that day of things to do to stay safe; and the only one I haven’t followed through on is a self defense class. Eventually, it will happen (funny-I just found an ad for a gym that focuses on self defense yesterday in an Atlanta magazine that I thought I might try) but my taser makes me feel very safe for the time being.
I encourage you to go and read my post again as a reminder and check out this site about runners safety and National Runners Safety Month. I know you all know the drill so I’m not going to dive into each and every thing again, but I hope that, if you’ve gotten slack in your safety, you will take these things to heart. Run in pairs, tell someone where you are going, one earbud, lots of reflective gear, change your route, always be on alert, carry mace if you can, and TRUST YOUR GUT.
I got through all of this and continue to get through this by running and not letting him take my joy away. I went to a therapy session or two, cried a lot, reached out to a lot of loved ones, and had the virtual support and love from yall, too. From the bottom of my heart, thank YOU.
Stay safe. Live each day to the absolute fullest. xoxo