Friday, November 4, 2011

Hero of the Week: Shyane DeJesus

Living in a neighborhood (Park Slope) that has had a rapist (possibly three) on the loose for several months, my guard has been up, my awareness of sexual assaults in the city more tuned in. It was not until I took a weekend trip to Vermont a couple weeks ago and was able to really relax that I realized how much daily fear I was working through just walking around my neighborhood. I stopped going to the gym in the morning because now it is dark. And I have been very lucky to have a boyfriend who is happy to escort me to other places in the neighborhood if it is dark outside. I was recently talking with a friend of mine about the fear that women carry just in the everyday and how men can never understand that. I was talking with another friend who lives in my neighborhood and asked her if she was alarmed at all. Her response made me smile, "He seems kind of wimpy." This friend of mine takes a weapons class at her local DoJo. If I were that guy, I would be scared of her. Her words felt inspiring and I sort of felt like, "Yeah, if this guy comes at me, I'll be ready." But the truth is no one knows just what they will do when they are attacked. When I was eighteen, I froze, completely froze, a reaction that took years for me to understand and to forgive. The context was different then.  I was sleeping and woke up to an attack. There was a surreal element. An element of disbelief. The realization it was not a dream. Then the shame of not being able to physically protect myself. It has been explained to me, that this may have actually been my survival instinct kicking in. The man who attacked me was over 200 pounds. I was alone in a dark house. By not reacting I may have saved my life. Who really knows? A few years later I was publicly groped in a 7-11, and was able to push the man and cause a scene, even though he yelled at me and got in my face. I stood my ground, and yelled louder even though I was shaking and shook for a good couple hours afterwards. (Amazingly, that man actually ended up saying he was sorry when I left 7-11) But, what this young woman,  Shyane DeJesus, did is inspiring, so f'ing courageous, and down-right badass! Not only did she punch and kick her attacker and make a public scene, despite being ignored by other subway passengers, she had the foresight to snap a picture of him. For this brave act, Shyane is my hero of the week.

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