What is the MeToo hashtag for me?
It’s 7am on a Sunday. The sun is almost up and shining. I am looking around for my friend, but she is not here. I know for sure I was the last one getting out of the club, they closed the door behind me. Well, can’t be that hard to find my way back to the hotel, I say!
While looking around where to go, this cute guy comes to me:
- Do you need any help?
I remember him from the club, he was dancing with us at one point, but yeah, I am not really interested in hooking up with anyone.
- No, it’s fine, I was looking for my friend, but I think she ditched me for some guy. I will just head back to my hotel.
- I can accompany you if you want!
I am thinking, it’s daylight outside, people are walking around, what can happen?!?!
- Sure, why not!?!?
- Where is your hotel?
I tell him the name of the hotel and instantly he says:
- Oh, I know where is it! Come, I know a shortcut, you will be there in 10 minutes! and we start talking about music trends and other stuff. Time flies and I don’t realize that actually, we are so far away from the club, that for sure my hotel is not around. At one point, he grabs my hand and he says:
- Come, I will show you something amazing! I am in front of an abandon football stadium in the middle of the city, but I am not really impressed, I just feel tired and thinking about that cozy bed that is waiting for me in the hotel.
- Yeah, awesome! How long until we get to the hotel? I feel your shortcut it’s longer than the normal way…. and that’s the last thing I remember saying before the hit. All I remember after that point is waking up to him on top of me, breathing hard, as I continued to say, “NO!” The “cute” guy hit me so bad a felt down, feeling dizzy, I was nauseated and not able to move almost at all. My brain was still trying to understand how I got into this situation. In that instant, I realized there was nothing I could do to stop what was happening. He was simply too strong. I started to scream since that was the only thing I could still do, but he just put one of his hands over my mouth while at the same time he was trying to unzip his jeans.
An old couple was going to church and overheard me screaming and they decided to come and help, the old man hit the “cute” guy with his cane. I'll never forget his face. It glowed with a certain peace, but he was hitting the guy so hard and strong that in the end the guy just ran away. They took me in their home, gave me some tea, helped me clean up and called a taxi to take me to the hotel.
When I got in the room, I turned off all the lights and watched some reruns until I could force myself to fall asleep into a long nap and tried to forget.
Fast forward more than 10 years after that, it’s 2016 and I am living alone in The Hague, what in my mind is supposed to be the safest city in the world, since prisons are closing down in The Netherlands because of the lack of inmates; I was feeling fearless.
It’s summer and surprisingly for Netherlands, it’s hot around 30 degrees during the day, so, without air conditioning, it’s really difficult to sleep, so I woke up in the middle of the night to have a glass of water and maybe also to open the window a bit. While I was in the kitchen someone rang my doorbell and I am thinking:
- It’s almost 4 am on a Thursday so I said out loud to myself that probably one of the neighbors is returning from a wild party at work, (typical Dutch behavior to go out on Thursdays) But by the time I get to the door, “surprise, surprise,” there was nobody. I keep thinking, “Definitely a drunk neighbor!” and I am heading back to bed, but guess what, by the time I am in bed, the doorbell rings again. Same thought, but this time I am getting faster to the door, to catch the drunk bastard, maybe make fun of him in the following days, and again the same thing, I look on the peephole and there is nobody. I start swearing a bit, but in the end, I went back to bed.
- Obviously now I can’t sleep! so, I started scrolling on Instagram and chatting on WhatsApp with my friends from Romania. But the story is not over, almost half an hour later, when I was just about to fall asleep, the doorbell rings again and I can hear someone is trying to open the door with a key. So, I run to the door all freaked out and while looking on the peephole I ask:
- Who are you? with a very serious tone. What do you want?
There is no surprise that both bearded guys with leather jackets I was seeing just ran away and that second, I realized this was meant to be a break in. I start shacking, thinking about worst scenario possible and go to the window.
- The apartment is located just on top of the main entrance into the building, so I will see them, I will take pictures and give it to the police! I said while looking on the window scared and hiding behind my curtains. I stayed there for a few minutes, but nobody was going out and while I was checking also the garage door this thought rapidly strikes my mind.
- OMG, what if they are still in the building thinking to come back! I should just call the police now!
I am not sure if I was really expecting someone to reply to my thoughts that were coming out loud and contrasting my earlier braveness. In the spur of the moment, I realized, my phone was on the nightstand, so, even if I wanted to take the pictures or videos, there was no way I can do it.
(a few minutes later after dropping the phone a few times)
- Hello, do you speak Dutch (I meant to say English, but…)? Someone is trying to break in into my place, I am all alone, please come fast, my address is….
- Hello, yes, we do speak English. Are they at your door?
- No, they left, but I haven’t seen them leaving the building. I only saw a car on the street in the past few minutes, please hurry!
- How many are they?
- I saw only two! I realized that the lady talking to me is very firm and calm and probably I sound like a maniac stressed and panicked.
- How do they look like? Did you see their faces? Can you describe them for me? Tell me more about the car. A team’s on the way, they will ring your door. Do you have an intercom? Is it a house or a complex of apartments?
At this point, my thoughts were just flying around my head scared and shacking I was just wondering, why is she asking so many questions instead of just sending someone here. Then I saw 2 police cars, and I am thinking “OH, I am safe now!”
- The car was ….and yes I saw them.... for almost a second... I can’t say for sure... I saw they had beards and black leather jackets.
To make this story short, in the end, 2 police cars came, one followed the lead with the car, but since the driver didn’t match my vague description at all, they let him go. The other stayed in front of the building until almost 6 am. One of the team went throughout the building searching and the other team came inside, took my statement and realized that my lock is broken and that it would have been around 2 to 5 minutes until those people would have been inside the house.
Why did I share these stories with you, my dear reader? For years, I have run away from people and created a big barrier around me, just to be sure my childhood drama will not repeat. I am happy my story stopped there and I was lucky enough to be found on time. I am so sorry for all the other women or even men, that were not as fortunate as I was and their stories are really painful.
Also, for months after the break-in attempt, I couldn’t sleep, I could hear some sounds outside or from my neighbors and immediately I would think that someone is trying to get in. I put security alarms at the door and my boyfriend, he moved in from Paris with me, but still, nothing made me feel safe. The scariest feeling was that I will not be able to defend myself in case of anything.
So, one day, I decided to do something to get rid of my fear, so I found in front of the change to go to a self-defense course, an amazing place, designed mainly to help and teach women on how to defend themselves.
The main problem I have living in The Netherlands is that most of the things happening are in Dutch, so I had to wait and wait and wait, for an English class. Finally, in October this year, it happened and I was ready for my first self-defense class.
Here I met Synthia, which is a really nice strong and powerful woman that helps you overcome any fear as long as you are willing to listen to her advice.
She pointed out something really amazing to me, which I was aware of, but didn’t pay that much attention before. We, women, tend to always apologize and say “sorry!” even if we don’t really need to, but men will almost never do it like they are entitled to their position. Don’t worry, this post is not meant to be a feminist post against men, it’s just a different way of seeing things in life, but I will touch this subject more in depth some other time, for now, I want to share with you all the things Synthia explained, which helped me become more confident that I can break free from my nightmares.
Synthia encourages everyone to avoid confrontation. If this is impossible, then finish the fight as quickly as possible. It is good to be prepared for the most unexpected situations. First thing first, set your boundaries, while trying to find any way out. There may be cases when you are looking for a peaceful solution, but the aggressor interprets this as a sign of weakness. When you defend yourself in the street you realize that everything is variable.
Do you want to know more about the self-defense class? Leave a comment down below or send me an email. Nobody should live in fear!