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This morning women all over Toronto exhaled in relief when it was made known that the person who had been attacking and sexually assaulting women in the Bloor/Christie Pits area for the past 2 months, has been arrested. The person arrested has attacked over 16 women in the span of 2 months time. He’s been a fucking terror, and believe it or not he’s only 15 years old.

This pretty much sums up how I have felt lately when walking by myself.

And that’s just on an average day. Insert this imagery: dusk is slowing drawing in, but I am still a 15 minute walk from my apartment. By the time I get there it will certainly be dark. I’ve felt like the Stark’s, “Darkness is coming”, for months now.

But I’m smart; my earphones that were happily playing the Lumineers on the subway are safely out of my ears and in my pocket; my keys are already out and ready to be used, with the largest key nestled tightly between my index and middle fingers, ready at a moments notice to be used as a blunt weapon to someone’s deserving eye if need be; I am walking tall, confidently, and alertly. Mom would be proud.

Holy fuck, a man is walking towards me. Instant reaction is emotional and physiological. I am on alert like it’s the fucking cold war and that man is a nuclear missile destined to attack my vagina.

Unfortunately this is not an exaggeration, because there is nothing that personally separates me from the 16 victims other than being lucky enough to not be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I am a woman, and because I am one I have a 2 in 5 chance of being sexually assaulted in my lifetime. Thats 39%. WTF?

And then I sat down and had a conversation with some of my guy friends. Women weren’t the only ones on edge because of this little bastard. Police have stepped up their force in the Bloor/Christie area, and residents have been on high alert since August. One friend said that he has had at least 3 women cross the street to avoid walking past him by themselves. He is gay. Not that he blames the women, saying that they are naturally on edge and doing what they can to stay vigilant. Another friend, who is not gay, says he feels most out of place when squad cars drive by him and slow down, or he see’s groups of police surveying the area.

The thought of sexually assaulting a woman has never crossed his mind, but much like the driver who slows down when they see a cop on the side of the road, even though they are already driving the speed limit, he was nervous; not only for the women in the area but for the men too.

So you can imagine how both women and men felt this morning when the arrest was made official.

This arrest could not have been made possible without the collaborative efforts of the Toronto Police, the outspoken victims of attacks, the constant media coverage, and the coming together of residents in the Bloor/Christie areas with rallies like Take Back the Neighborhood.

Coming together as a community really helped to minimize the risk as much as possible, and I can only hope that efforts like this continue to grow so that both men and women in the community will feel as safe as they deserve to feel in their own neighborhoods.

For more information on the attacks and arrest check out CP24

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