I was walking home, it was around midnight-ish and drizzling so I had my hood up to try and protect some of my curls from going flat. I don’t listen to music when walking home at night because I think that 1) it advertises that you own something like an iPod and 2) it makes you less aware of your surroundings.
I’d gone out for drinks and dinner with old uni friends and was feeling all happy about the world. I was dressed inappropriately for the weather, and my bag strap had snapped so I was carrying it under my arm. There were still lots of cars and quite a few people about.
A teenage boy was cycling past, I moved over slightly as he veered a little towards me, thinking he needed more room. Then to my absolute shock, his hand was on my bag and he was attempting to grab it out of my arm as he cycled on. I think he was hoping the momentum of the bike would help, but my instinct in that split second was to tighten my arm lock around it in surprise.
My body went “No, that’s mine. It has a multicoloured dream catcher in it that my friend Becca has just given me as a moving in present. Oh plus my purse and phone and stuff.”
It all happened so quickly and my reaction was to turn round and shout “WHAT THE FUCK?!” after him, because again - I was just SO surprised. And when I did, he looked back and kind of mouthed something that looked like “Sorry” but then again could have been “Fuck off”
I don’t know why I was so surprised. I’m a pretty paranoid person. I always have my hand on my bag on the tube, or I have to be touching it in a restaurant - I very rarely leave it on the floor without my foot on it. When I think someone is following me then I deliberately stop to let them pass, or go into a doorway of a hotel or a bar where there’s people (they’re never actually following me, but as I told you - paranoid!).
I know very basic self-defence and I’m naturally wary of and slightly intimidated by groups of teenage boys (although feel a bit guilty and ageist about that one). But I’ve never been mugged, and apart from very minor street harassment- no-one’s ever tried anything with me personally. I once lived in a ground floor flat that got broken into but they left my room pretty annoyed when they realised all I’d left in it was fairy lights and postcards.
As I reached my door I was shaking with a furious violent anger. I was terrified that he was just going to cycle round in a circle and try it again. But at the same time I wanted to hurt him, to knock him off his bike and beat him up. (Which feels like such a ridiculous sentence to write). It’s probably a good thing my body delayed this instinct because I doubt I’m the kind of person who would win in a fight.
My housemate was shocked. I was shocked. We had cups of tea and watched Red Dragon. I debated whether or not to call 101 because there is CCTV on my road because of all the shops, but he had a hood up, and I couldn’t tell you much more other than he was youngish (but anywhere from 13-17) and white. I couldn’t even tell you his hair colour, and I couldn’t pick him out of a line up. I knew I’d be filing a report that wouldn’t go anywhere.
I’m not sure why I was so surprised. I wasn’t expecting it - but then who is ever expecting crime? I know crime exists, obviously. I know this kind of thing happens. But I guess it’s kind of like Death - you know in an abstract way that everyone dies, but when it happens to someone you know… you’re surprised and kind of shocked by the concrete realisation of it.
Anyway, the other feeling I was left with was one of embarrassment. I can’t explain it but I felt like I didn’t want everyone to know that I was nearly mugged. Like it implies I did something wrong. I wasn’t looking tough enough, I wasn’t projecting the right don’t-mess-with-me vibe, it was my fault for walking home at that time or for being alone.
But that is victim blaming culture and I refuse to be a part of it. So I thought I’d write this and TELL EVERYONE. Have you ever been mugged? Were they a little shit on a bike? Did they manage it? Lets talk about this!