A mysterious man began following Stacy Thomas while she was walking to the bus stop after work in Downtown Baltimore. (Courtesy of Jonas Verstuyft/Unsplash)

By Kendra Pugh
Special to the AFRO

In 2016, Stacey Thomas, 53 worked a night shift at Garden Inn Hotel downtown Baltimore on President Street. Thomas figured she could use the money because she was just getting by, living paycheck to paycheck. She also enrolled in a few online businesses classes so she could get a better job.

To get back and forth from work, Thomas had to catch a train and a bus since she lived in Baltimore County.

Thomas said that she hated night shift because a lot of city street lights didn’t work. When she would go home after work, she would watch the news. Thomas kept seeing reports of women getting robbed in Baltimore City. Thomas feared that she would be the next victim, since she didn’t get off her shift until after midnight. 

“I was scared because when I get off , it’s pitch black and I’m alone,” Thomas said. 

Thomas’ worst fear was realized in November of 2016, when she walked home after getting off the bus. She was followed by a strange, tall man dressed in all black. Thomas kept looking back over her shoulder and walked faster hoping that the man would stop following her.

But he didn’t. Instead, the strange, tall man walked faster behind her. 

Thomas feared she would be killed. As she walked faster, she prayed to God that she would make it to her family.

Thomas’ 15-year-old daughter stayed in her mind. Thomas knew her daughter stayed up late on a school night, every night to greet her at the door. But that night Thomas wasn’t sure if she would live or would be assaulted and be traumatized and left with mental scars forever. 

Before Thomas would think another thought, another man comes to the door while she is running and he asked if she was okay. She replied, saying “I don’t know.”

After he asked that question the strange, tall man in all-black stopped following her. He ran away. The kind man walked her home, and she remains thankful to this day.

Since that night, Thomas now carries a pocket knife and pepper spray to help her feel safe.

“If that man didn’t come outside, I would have been assaulted or killed,” said Thomas.

In a 2018 nationwide study of 1,000 women, four out of five said they experience verbal or physical harassment on the street. Half of the women polled in the “A National Survey of Sexual Harassment and Assault” said they were touched or groped in an unwelcome way. Much more concerning, 27% of the women said they survived a sexual assault.

At Morgan State University, campus police on its website said, if necessary, fight back if a violent assault appears imminent.

However, train and have a strategy. On campus, self defense courses are offered in physical education. For others, heathline.com offered these tips: Focus on an attacker’s vulnerable places: eyes, nose, throat, and groin. The site proposed moves that have maximum impact.

Also, self-defense instructor Victor Lyalko proposed seven techniques in an eight-minute YouTube video that attracted two million views.

For the sake of a sound mind, body and soul, these times call for women’s self-defense.

The writer is a multimedia journalism student at Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.  

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