Dear Straight Talk: The problem is my stepfather. He doesn't walk around in the nude like some parents, but he looks my sister and me up and down, staring at our breasts and crotch in a way that makes us very uncomfortable. If it was just me, I might think I was overreacting or being paranoid, but my sister feels exactly the same way. He usually does it when he’s had too much to drink, which is almost every night! We haven’t said anything to our mom because he hasn’t really done anything, so what do you say? However, we’re nervous when we’re home alone with him and try to stay in our room with the door locked, feeling like prisoners. What should we do? — Santa Ana, Calif.
Editor's Note: I recommend martial arts and pepper spray for ALL females and males who feel vulnerable. It is totally okay to harm another if they are trying to harm you. According to the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, a woman is beaten every 15 seconds, and a forcible rape occurs every six minutes in the U.S. I can't stress enough the need to trust intuition and push aside embarrassment about possibly being wrong. You don't get "creepy" feelings from everything out there, so when you do get one, ALWAYS follow it.
I experienced one of these creepy feelings and know how awkward it is to take action based on intuition. I was a full-grown woman with a third-degree black belt (which, trust me, is best not to have to use outside class), on a date in a restaurant with a guy I'd met a few weeks earlier. Nothing negative was happening. Yet I became plagued by a feeling that he planned to rape me later in the evening. The feeling wouldn't go away. There was total war in my brain because I had no rational reason for thinking this, yet there it was!
Fortunately, I did NOT DISCOUNT my intuition — despite my rational, polite self practically stoning me to death to do so. I began by explaining that I had taken sick and needed to leave (I had my own car, but a cab would've worked, too). Our eyes met and one of those hideous where I could see, that he could see, that I could see moments happened. His dark soul and my awareness were both exposed. He instantly became furious (instead of sorry I was sick, right?), which confirmed everything. I made the situation public by calling two wait staff over and announcing loudly that I was afraid of my date and could they please escort me to my car. (A very buff young waiter was quite thrilled to do this.) Needless to say, I shook for the next hour at the thought of what might have happened if I hadn't trusted myself.
To all those in vulnerable situations: trust your intuition, make the situation public, and ask for help. For self-defense tips if you are not in public, see our column of SEP 9, 2009. —Lauren
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