Read more and find out what are my fears, how I plan on conquering these fears, and advice for travelers from other bloggers. #TravelIsLife!
One of my biggest fears while I travel is that people will be looking at me and automatically a National Geographic soundtrack will start playing in their head.
"Not in her natural habit, the Black woman looks confused, and ferocious as she explores this foreign land."
Plus I get that some cultures are not used to seeing Black people, but still it does bug me that I'm being watched like that.
"COME HERE GYAL, LET ME BREED YOU!"
Once I was talking to a woman who went to Jamaica and she told me of a man who cat called her on the street and said the title to her. To those unfamiliar with West Indian english, he basically asked to have sex with her, and get her pregnant.
To an West Indian man, that might be a compliment, but to women that's RUDE! Sexual harassment abroad is not unheard of. I've spoken to a young lady who went to Egypt one year, and she told me that the men there often cat called her, and even went as far as threatening her for not acknowledging them.
Generally, when I get catcalled I smile and ignore them as a tactic to show that I acknowledged their efforts, but I never once stopped and spoke to someone who catcalled me. If you honestly want to get my attention, a "good afternoon Ms.", "I hope you have a beautiful day" would be better than "I love that ass" or "I'd f_ck you hard". But abroad has different dynamics, that makes me even more nervous than if I was in NY. I guess the unfamiliarity with everything would also make me more cautious and concerned than usual.
Speaking of sexual harassment...
According to a research conducted on 218 female college juniors and seniors, 38.1 percent of the women who studied abroad in the past two years, prior to 2010, were sexually assaulted. 27.5 percent reported being nonconsentually touched, while 6 percent reported an attempt of being sexually assaulted, while 4.7 percent reported being sexually assaulted.
I read a blog by a young woman, who described simply "losing control" and consuming too much alcohol before her attacker took advantage of her even though she said "no", and raped her. "I blamed myself. All I could hear were the negative thoughts in my head, ripping me apart. I knew that if I was sober, I could have fought him off, and that ate away at me inside." she wrote. This tugged at my heart. As an advocate against sexual violence, and an ally to those who have experienced sexual violence, I felt like jumping through the screen and giving her a hug!
Women experience sexual assault abroad a much larger rate than men, though its not unheard of of men being sexually assaulted abroad as well. Its not just a woman's issue as I've always tried to tell people, it something that we all need to be wary of.
I hate to say it.. but people got to make sure they're protecting themselves
I hate saying this but women especially have to make sure they take extra precautions when it comes to being abroad. Many cultures perceive women as weak, submissive, and vulnerable, and protecting ourselves from being sexually assaulted, or violence in general is a priority. Here are some helpful tips:
- Take self-defense classes.
- Get a rape whistle.
- Trust nobody! Be cautious of everyone and everything
- Trust your GUT!
- Make sure you are familiar with international laws surrounding assault, both physical and sexual.
- Have local authorities numbers for where ever you are traveling.
- Make regular contact with your family members at home. (Set a time with your family members to let them know that that's when you'll be in contact with them for the duration of you abroad experience.)
- Buddy SYSTEM!!! Never go to foreign, unfamiliar places alone!
But you can do all this and still be a victim of sexual assault, or violence in general. So what do you do then? In this pretty nifty article I found on "What To If You Are Sexually Assaulted Abroad?" by Cosmopolitan, and discovered an organization called SASSHA (Sexual Assault Support and Help for Americans Abroad). On their website they have several articles dedicated to what to do if you were sexually assaulted overseas, while in a study abroad program, or on a cruise ship for example.
I guess when I travel abroad, I have to keep my wits with me. Yes, I want to have fun and turn up, but I definitely want to put my safety first! Whether its sexual assault, or a hate crime, I refuse to be a victim when I'm trying to explore the world!
Another thing I'm scared off is being tricked. I've always been scared of con artist, because they are SOOO good with words that you wouldn't even see it coming. OH NAH. I'm very cautious! Avoiding people who come off as too charming, or too persuasive, because I know that they must have something up their sleeves is one of my nifty gifts.
I also think Americans are vulnerable to being conned more, because we think we know it all, and we're too good at not being tricked, when we're clearly not. I know that sometimes, I can be very gullible and I'll be the first to admit that I might be susceptible to getting conned or swindled out of a kidney, or my bank account. (LOL I'm exaggerating a bit, but yeah.)
All these fears and what not, but that won't stop me from traveling abroad. I know that though I'm susceptible to these things, that doesn't mean that it would happen. The same thing that may happen abroad, can happen to me in a community I've lived in for 10 + years.
These fears just makes me human, and it makes me more aware, and realize that these are real concerns and issues. I've travelled domestically more this year than any other year, but in August I will be going to Thailand and Cambodia. I got this. I'll be fine, but I'll also be aware.
Do you have any travel fears? How do you overcome them?
If you've been a victim of sexual assault abroad, contact:
SASSHA - Call the Crisis Line
Find your country specific AT&T direct access code HERE.
Dial your AT&T access code and, at the prompt, enter our phone number: 866-USWOMEN (879-6636)
Sexual Assault Hotline (US): (800) 621-4673 (HOPE)
Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or dial 1-888-407-4747 (from the U.S. or Canada) or (202) 501-4444 (from overseas)