Whispers in the Night Part 2: Conflicts on the Outside, Fears Within

A few days ago I posted Whispers in the Night Part 1: Overcoming Lies With Truth. Here is Part 2 – why all those lies came up in the first place. I thought it was more important to post the truth first.

In the words of Paul in 2 Cor 7 “… this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” (Titus, who provided Paul with comfort because he had been refreshed and comforted by the Corinthian church.)

I am thankful for those moments when someone who has been refreshed by the body can come alongside and provide me with comfort. Paul experienced conflict, most of which is unimaginable to us in our safe and secure lives. He experienced fear. But he also experienced God’s comfort, administered through those he loved.

In the line of work we do, there is conflict on the outside and we experience fear within. It is true. Sometimes the fear is tangible, sometimes it is spiritual.

About two weeks ago, as some of you know, I experienced real physical fear. I was followed into a park by a guy who had already exposed himself (you know what I mean) on the bike path, once I realised he had followed me to a place where I was alone, he said somethings/ insinuated things/motioned to things, that scared me. So I yelled, I biked away really fast, and I called for help.

In the end, it wasn’t so bad, it was scary, but it could have been worse.

But since that point I have had to face the fears within. Those ‘worse things that could have happened’ and those things that have happened in the past, started to re-surface and prey on my mind. Suddenly a lot of emotions I thought I had dealt with, came back to remind me that they are still there.

Anger and fear gripped me. I have been jumpy, I have felt deep anger towards strange men who look at me on the metro. I have had to convince myself that not every man watching me is going to follow me. I have felt so frustrated that my freedom, my sense of safety, my right to bike home, has all been invaded by a stranger with his pants undone.

I filed a police report because I felt afraid that this could happen to another girl, but that it could be worse.

It felt good to be affirmed that reporting him was the right thing to do.

But there have been a lot of thoughts in my head since that Friday; ranging from downplaying my right to be afraid because the girls we work with experience so much worse trauma on a daily basis to frustration that I now feel insecure and sensitive to every male who looks  leers at me while out in public.

But as I posted in part 1, it took a divine encounter while walking in the rain and the words of truth whispered to me in the night to remind me that I am not meant to live in fear, or to dwell on the past, but that God is good, His love is all consuming, and it is His perfect love that drives out fear.

And then I experienced the comfort of those around me. Who prayed good words over me. Who reminded me of my value and identity in Christ. Who let me have my moment of hurt, and then gently led me back to the cross.

I sulked for a few days about how depraved humanity can be, and then I picked myself up, and reminded myself of a few lessons learned:

1 – it is good to be wise and cautious.

2 – it is okay to be hurt and angry.

3 – it is healthy to process the things that we fear.

4 – it is not good to let myself slip into old thinking habits that centre around fear.

5 – the truth of God’s word will renew my mind, and will bring comfort and peace in the midst of emotional turmoil.

6 – it is healing to be surrounded by a community of people who God can use to comfort you when the fears within become to much.

7 – I am not quite done being angry, but I am working on it, and that is okay. I am done sulking though, and I will be a lot more aware of my route home in the future.

In telling this story, I’ve realised that almost every woman I talk to has a story of being sexually harassed or assaulted by a stranger. We all have a story, from comments and catcalls to physical violence. Those things are not okay. But I am also reminded that the behaviour of some individuals do not define the entire male race. There are good men out there, and it is not good to be angry with all men because of the actions of some. 

And it is okay to get the hell away from the ‘some’ who pose a threat to your well-being or safety!

In the meantime ladies, tips/tricks/thoughts on responding in threatening situations? How do you react to inappropriate behaviour or comments?

2 Responses to “Whispers in the Night Part 2: Conflicts on the Outside, Fears Within”
  1. So yesterday, for my birthday, my 17 year old cousin and I went to the movies. While we were waiting for the previews to start(im obsessive about being way early so that i get to pick the best seat..lol), i was talking about twitter, and how i got a birthday wish from a friend halfway around the world->you🙂 I then had to explain to her who you were and what you do. and why you do it. Just like you and the rest of the Passion team ignited a fire about human trafficking in me, i think it lit a flame in her. She was kinda naive like i was a year ago to the horrors of modern day slavery, and how it is sometimes posed as voluntary prostitution. anyways, continue doing His work, and He is going to continue protecting you, and using you to touch people halfway around the world just from hearing your story. Other than that, my only advice(which im sure you already know and/or have thought about) is taking well-lit paths. If possible, dont travel alone. keep a method of communication on you. carry a whistle(you know, like, how they pass out “rape” whistles on some college campuses) you can put it on a lanyard or one of those stretchy wrist things. put some noise makers on your bike, anything to attract attention. If youre not in immediate danger, and some guy is just talking inappropriately(for some reason, i always get approached and hit on at gas stations putting gas in my car), i make sure to let them know how disrespectful i think they are being. loudly, so that not only do they get the point, but maybe it will be a little embarrassed because everyone else can hear too. and i dont know what is legal to carry or not, but ive always carried a pocket knife too. If those arent allowed, or you wouldnt feel comfortable, or if it was too hard to get to, have your keys easy to get to, because in the self defense class i took, they can have the same effect as a knife if you learn how to use them. or pens, like writing pens, you can get them in the face or throat with a pen. (disclaimer: i would only use violent techniques if i felt like my life was threatened and I was in serious danger. I certainly don’t approve or condone outright, pointless violence.)
    Thanks Saskia for everything that you do in carrying the love of Jesus to the world.🙂

  2. Paulina says:

    Dear Saskia. That was certainly a potential dangerous situation and I believe many of us women have been indeed through those and perhaps most of those girls and women experienced this and worse within their own families. I believe you did the right thing and yelled and biked away fast and reported it to police. The thing I also thought of is to wear a smaller purse or none at all on your bike and in metro etc. Sow inside pockets in your jackets and coats and have your important things in there. And do not wear high heals or uncomfortable shoes etc.Yes be prepared. It happens often that purses get snatched when scooter riders pull up beside you and just pull them off your shoulder and you will fall and get dragged. There are many stories of women having this happen and end up in hospital. Just recently a pregnant woman on her bike in a “fancy” neighbourhood had this happen during the day. This is not a sexual assault but certainly a violations that would cause us to be angry and scared as well. Even at 53 (bleh) I always look around and try to be aware of who stands, walks or sits beside me. Even in the grocery store when I use interac I cover the pinpad with my hand etc. Amsterdam has just a bit more crime to know about. Also check the Dutch news reports about the areas where there has been recent crime and rape etc. Just recently on 2 different locations but at the same park in Amsterdam nieuw West 2 women where raped while jogging in the morning. You can follow at5 nieuws on twitter, but you need to be able to read Dutch. I am not paranoid when I go out but I am very cautious and always aware about my surroundings. I don;t even just open my frontdoor when knocked on, but peek through my (new) peephole and if I don;t know who it is I don;t open the door. Even at the home where I work with the 2 little girls the frontdoorbel rings often. I ask through the door who it is and dont; open for any stranger.(This is a house on the mainfloor.) Awhile ago there was a guy who wanted to check the gasmeter, but he had NO ID or anything to show. I did not let him him. We women are inclined to be naive and trust easily but it is wise to be a bit unguard. Don;t downplay your gut instincts, but listen to them always and recognize Gods build in red flagg system. Even as christians these things DO happen to us too. We just need to be smart and challenge ourselves and not let these dangers take away our emotional freedom. Keep talking about it with those you trust and are safe people with their responses to you in it and let it all out etc.
    Take in Gods breath and live and be free to be and go and stay where you want. Because you are FREE and you do LIVE and LOVE and you are LOVED ! xxx

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