And I’ve heard two rape stories in Sihanoukville, one a girl, alone, and one a young man, strong and in shape, but I guess if you’re jumped by five guys it doesn’t really matter if you’re in shape. Rape happens everywhere, so it’s not like where I am is more dangerous than any other place where you should not go jogging alone in the dark. And still, here I am alone, until the four guys ran after me….
Being raped was always one of my big fears. I want to say that it’s an irrational fear, unfounded on any reality or past experience of sexual abuse, but I just can’t say that. I don’t recall anything, nothing at all and I have no logical reason to think I was raped, but in therapy sessions, I kept having this feeling that someone very close to me did. But, I’ve learned, it does not matter if I was or I was not. What does matter is that I release whatever I need to and learn what I am meant to. That’s all.
So, my cells may have memory of things my mind cannot or does not wish to comprehend, or maybe it was a past life, or maybe just a movie, but either way, it’s there and my work it to work through it.
So, I get into these moments of imagining that I’m about to be raped and I start acting out what it is I will do. I always hope I’ll scream and kick and scare the shit out of him, injure his sorry ass, and make him sorry he messed with me. I fear, deep inside, that I’ll just freeze and let him do with me what he will. But I’m a fighter, damn it. This I’ve learned this past year as I’ve faced my own addiction.
And so, tonight [written in November] I was running alone on the beach. It’s become a lovely tradition I’m incredibly proud of, that I’ve picked up my sometimes lazy butt and said, “Run, child, run. The time has come, yet again, to connect to that power within you to drive yourself to your physical limits. Run, child, run,” and I do, at sunset.
But, sometimes, I leave a bit too late, and then the run back, far after all the restaurants and tourists and lights have ended, but well into the darkness of the forest hugging the shores of Sihanoukville, Cambodia on that long stretch of barren coast after Serendipity Beach ends, and where Ocheteaul Beach stretches towards Otres Beach, I find myself, panting, alone, partly because of running but mostly out of fear. Is someone going to rape me? Will I really just freeze? Will I get AIDS? Can I beg him to use a condom? Is it possible I’d enjoy it? Will I feel nasty and guilty like I did when that bar man felt my buttock as I walked passed him to wait on another table in that café in Jerusalem?
So, I hear a ruckus behind me, a noise I can’t quite identify but I know, instantly, that I don’t like. They are laughing and running after me, calling me, in the dark, and there is a person here and there, but local women, who I don’t think will do anything to help me, and the two foreign guys I had run passed are way too far behind to know there is any issue if these guys grab me and pull me into the forest.
I look back once or twice and can’t see, just hear, but I don’t stop running, running keeps me strong and safe, I think to myself. And when they’re really close, I realize I don’t like where I am, this feels very wrong to me, and I know I have but one choice- to keep running. “You are a long-distance runner, Gabi. You do that well. You can outrun them, love. Keep running, Gabi.”
And I hear that gorgeous blonde tell Tom Hanks, “Run Forest Run” and I see Julia Roberts in Conspiracy Theory running for her life, and I know I can do it. I’ll just run, and run, and run, but what if they catch up to me? I’m not a sprinter, I’m the slow and steady sort and if I bolt for it, I’ll likely run out of breath and panic.
So, I run.
Three of them fall behind. They can’t keep up with me. Fuckers. Don’t mess with me, and for the record, I still don’t know what their intentions were. Maybe a lonely fisherman out for a ride in shark-infested waters? But the last one, I felt his intentions more clearly, and I couldn’t outrun number four.
So, he’s in his twenties and my the shadows I had outrun, I think his friends were about that too. He’s running right behind me, laughing, “hello, hello”. What do I do, play nice, ignore him, which shows more strength? I need to show strength. “Hello”
He’s running beside me, too close. I move to the right, brushing up towards the forest. He’s stuck to my side. No, I don’t want to be pushed into the forest! Shit!
I b-line to the middle way, the water’s edge, pushed back near the forest, he’s there and won’t back down. I’m ignoring him, and I’m scared. He could easily pin me down until his friends show up for their turn. I could rack him, right? God, I don’t want to be here. I’m scared. So, I focus….
“Gabi, listen dearest and listen carefully. You are going to be fine IF you stay calm and focused. If you freak out, you will run out of breath and it’s over. Stay calm, stay calm, and just run. “
Well friend’s not going anywhere, and he’s brushing against my shoulder again. Full stop.
I stop, and walk around him, and keep running. And he’s back. Again, full stop.
This time I stand there and stare into his eyes, hard. He’s smiling, I’m not. I feel the power within me speak with incredible clarity. “Back off man. DON’T mess with me.” My lioness me protects the cub, me with words.
Ever felt that surge of panic? Had someone come too close, too fast, too uncomfortable? You know the feeling, even if you’ve never actually experienced it, don’t you. Speak and I’ll answer. Stay quiet and I’ll hear you too. Either way, you’re the diva of inner strength and beauty, if you’re a guy or girl, you are a diva and I love you.
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