Being abducted


Here is a story that I remember hearing as a child.  I was walking uptown in my hometown, headed toward the library.  Suddenly my parents appeared in their car, insisted that I get in, and whisked me back home.

They later told me that one of my father’s employees–who lived between us and the library–saw a pickup truck following me really slowly along the back street where she lived.  Bea called my folks and they came to pick me up, to rescue me from the would-be abductor.

I do not know if this is a real story, or something I dreamed.  My 86 year old mother does not remember this happening.  But I have held fast to this story for more than fifty years.  It is as real to me as anything.  I was almost kidnapped.  I was almost taken.  I was–almost–abducted into the greatest horror ever.

baby k

Baby Kathy

All my life something in me watches for kidnappers.  For men in pickup trucks to slow down, to stop, to take me away from everything familiar.  To perhaps rape, violate, kill.

I thought, perhaps, that I was alone in my silent fear. In my ridiculous over-imagination. (Even though so often it just shows up as a background hum of wariness, a backdrop that can never quite be forgotten.)

But I have spoken with many other women who feel the same way.  Who are wary.  Who look left and right.  Who sometimes think–this car might be the abductor.  This truck might be the man to knock me unconscious.  This next vehicle might just carry that gun, that rapist, that violator.

Even today I turned left on our country road when I saw a vehicle stalled up ahead.  That scared part inside wanted to protect itself.  That scared part that was sure a man waited for me–just because I was female.  Just because I was female.

Always vigilant

Always vigilant

(It turned out that the stalled vehicle was a dear friend.  I almost missed talking with him because I didn’t approach.)

My blogging friend, Lori, just wrote a post about her own experience of a possible near-victimization.  Her story inspired me to share this.

How many of us women carry horror stories of victimization in our bones?  How many of us unconsciously–or consciously–always keep the possibility of abduction close to the surface?

It all starts with baby steps.

Empty shoes.

I do not think it is wrong to be aware.  To be surveying the environment.  To be conscious of possible danger.

I do think it is very, very sad that so many of us carry fearful conditioning that prevents us from feeling safe.  Even if we live in a pretty safe remote corner of the planet.  I wonder how many men understand this?

Have any of you readers experienced this?


About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in March 2019 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Being abducted

  1. dawnkinster says:

    I can’t click on the ‘like’ because it’s so sad and so true that most women know, in the back of their minds, that they are not always safe and that’s because they are a woman. I think it’s something akin to being a young black man, someone else who is also not always safe simply because of who he is.

    • monicadevine says:

      I agree. As women we are conditioned to feel like we are sometimes in a war zone, always looking over our shoulders. I have experienced this…being leered at when I was nine at a public swimming pool. Most perpetrators will go after women who look like they aren’t paying attention to their surroundings; you have to change your body language to show you’re confident and aware.

      • Kathy says:

        Monica, thank you for sharing your story. What nine year old should have the experience of being leered at? And you are also right that body language will go a long way in our surroundings. Love to you, Water Mask Lady.

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, thank you, Dawn, for including being a young black man who feels he is not safe. It’s not just women. It’s those of us on this planet who feel marginalized for whatever reason…so sad, indeed.

  2. Susan D. says:

    Oh, Kathy, I had a similar experience when I was in Kindergarten. I was allowed to walk to school, and my mom and little brother would meet me half-way when I was on my way home. One day, a car kept pace with me as I was walking home. Whether there was any true danger present I’ll never know. I only knew I felt scared. So I ran. I ran until I saw my mom and brother. There were other events throughout life, some real and some, I’m sure, imagined. But what’s true is the fear and the vigilance. Hyper-vigilance, maybe. And, yes, it is because we are female.
    I do, however, think some men truly understand this. Maybe more than we think. Some of them were followed, or kidnapped, or molested/raped. We hear more about such males in current times. But I wonder how many older men have deep secrets about what happened to them, and maybe their being haunted all their lives, too, by such experiences.

    • Kathy says:

      Hello, dear friend! The Internet keeps going out tonight, so I am sneaking in commentary in between outages. How awful that you had this experience as a child! Yes, this hyper-vigilance thing even though it can be under the surface, half-conscious even. I was just talking with Chris about this, though, and he totally seemed to get–or least empathize with-my experience. I guess I have never really expanded my viewpoint to include men in this situation, even though I was vigilant with both children when they were young. But you are so right. Thank you for sharing. So much.

  3. Susan D. says:

    Oops, wasn’t done .. I’m long-winded these days. Want to thank you for sharing this today. It touches me deeply in places I don’t often explore. God bless you!

  4. Stacy says:

    I’ve thought of this, too, Kathy, my whole life – that 50% of the planet’s population has reason to fear the other 50% simply because of our being, for the most part, physically weaker. It lead me to take Taekwondo lessons when I was in college. (I met my husband there, so win-win.) But I still practice “situational awareness” when I leave the house. Always en garde.

    • Kathy says:

      Stacy, “situational awareness” is a good way to describe it. But it’s always “en garde”, right? That’s what feels wrong. That we always have to be en garde. Sigh. I am, however, glad you met your husband in Taekwondo lessons. 🙂

  5. Elisa says:

    i so get it! however for me doing a fear and a resentment inventory and seeing how the justifiable experiences i had, that i carried as misperceptions and baggage affect me today, show me that what i do with that real thing is at issue, and then i can set about changing it.

    • Elisa says:

      ps military personnel and law enforcemention this readiness and awareness for threat assesment is engrained and saves lives 🙂 so not it’s not just a chick thing or a victim thing, it’s survival mechanism (sometimes gone awry or to an extreme, depending…)

      • Kathy says:

        Hmmm, it looks like my response to your comment disappeared when the Internet went out. Thank you for your thoughtful response, Elise. It sounds like you are approaching it all in a very healthy manner. It’s also interesting to ponder it all as a survival mechanism.

  6. debyemm says:

    I used to check the environment when I went to the ATM but then they made all of them drive-ups. I think for a reason. I am “aware” but not fearful.
    I once worked at a place as a young woman and walked to the store a few blocks away for lunch. I got accosted by a man on foot as well but did lose a would be attacker when I said to him my husband would kill him if he found him. He turned and left me – thankfully. And my husband searched for him for days during my lunch hour.
    There once was a man who was following my sister as she walked to school. My mom started following her and having been alerted to his kind of car, got the license number and reported him. End of problem.
    I remember telling my young daughter to never take candy from a stranger.
    Caution is always good but living in fear – not so much.

    • Kathy says:

      “Aware” but not fearful is a good place of balance, Deb. It sounds like you are in such a place. I feel like things that happen when we are children can cause reactions in an almost unconscious body-sense way and that these reactions really can’t be changed by common sense. That’s what I am discovering lately. I went back and read this blog to see if I had expressed what I was trying to express, and am not sure that happened. I don’t live with an overt sense of fear in this area…but it is a background hum that sometimes wafts up from the unconscious. It doesn’t feel crippling, but it does feel like a childhood wound that sometimes (and usually unexpectedly) crops up.

  7. Lori says:

    Thanks for mentioning me, Kathy. Yes, I suppose this is always on my mind. It’s why I’m situationally aware and carry pepper spray. That one time when I made a phone call, and sure enough, a creeper came along. If I had the time and inclination, I’d go to the six weeks of school it takes to get a carry license. I don’t like to see myself as a victim, so you’d better believe I’d be a fighter.

    BTW, I was just talking to my mom this morning, and I reminded her of something that happened when I was a kid, but she said she didn’t remember. It makes you question yourself, no? I’m pretty sure you and I are both correct. I think perhaps as kids, certain situations stick with us more than they do for our parents as adults. Just a thought.

    • Kathy says:

      Lori, thank you for sharing your story. So many of us have to stay so aware. I feel like you would indeed be a fighter if someone tried to mess with you.

      Thanks, also, for sharing your story about your mom not remembering a situation. This did make me question myself–after I typed this story another memory came back that it was my dad who came and “rescued” me. So maybe my mother doesn’t remember because she wasn’t in the picture? Like your premise that as kids certain stories stick because they were immanent for us.

  8. This is very poignant, Kathy, and rings so true. I do have memories that I know to be true, but that I am alone in remembering. It does make me wonder, sometimes, if it was a dream, or where that rock-solid memory came from, that no-one else can corroborate. None as frightening as yours, though. Still, I have lived my life with the same watchful caution that you speak of. It’s not terror, not even fear…but can turn to either in an instant as conditions change. What a shame! I think of the question, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” This is a kind of variation of that query. What, indeed, would our lives be like if we did not have to consider self-protection?

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, it feels like perhaps many of us are alone in remembering certain memories. And that can feel strange. That “watchful caution” that you speak of…that’s actually how I feel on the surface. Very calm when walking down the road, not even worried. It’s just that every once in a while this scared little girl memory pops up. Just think what our lives would be like if we didn’t have to consider self-protection. What a thought indeed…Btw, it seems like since writing this story I am re-framing things. I have been thinking about “fear” in relation to this for years. I think the word “watchful caution” can actually be felt. I didn’t really ever discriminate between these energies until now.

  9. Robin says:

    Oh yes, I’ve experienced this. I carry pepper spray with me on my walks (which I’d be more likely to hurt myself with than anyone else because I’m such a klutz). When I was out on long walks on the back roads, there was a guy in a pick-up truck who kept driving by. Back and forth, he’d turn around and come back. Then he parked on one of the dirt roads just before I had to pass by. Just as I began to worry about it, a car came up behind him and he was forced to move along. My husband bought the pepper spray for me as a gift (heh) shortly after I told him about the incident. It’s not the first, not by a long shot. Walking to and from school as a child and a teenager, there were similar incidents or wolf whistles or other things that just didn’t feel right and that made me feel unsafe.

    • Kathy says:

      Robin, thank you for sharing your experiences. I remember trying to convince my daughter to carry pepper spray when she moved to the “big city”. I think that lasted a day or two. It just seems so sad that this is part of our experience of the world. What if we could live without this possibility? But I’m dreaming again… Have learned a lot by writing this blog about distinguishing between “fear” and “watchful caution”. Am going to pay attention the next time this happens and feel into the distinction between the two.

  10. Carol says:

    I wonder if this is an age thing. When I was young – teenager and young adult – this was never anything I recall anyone worrying about. We did our things – rode our bikes on back roads, walked far too many miles on dark streets because we spent our money at the movies and couldn’t pay the bus fare, wandered idly in various places, without concern. In more recent years, I’ve had some bit of trepidation walking down streets in cities that seem run down or are heavily populated with homeless or unsavory looking humans, but never really felt that fear. Or perhaps I’m simply blind and overly complacent. I think this story tells a tale that is far too appropriate these days. Does this mean I lived in the best of times?

    • Kathy says:

      Carol, you may be right. I don’t think either my mom or mother-in-law experience things like this. Perhaps you did live in the best of times…or at least safer times than the ones we live in now.

  11. Marlene says:

    At my age (60+) I think I am more vigilant now than before. We live on a dirt road, off the beaten path. You become familiar with which cars should be traveling on your road. When I’m coming home from work, by myself, if a car unknown to me is traveling behind me for more than five miles, I’ll drive until they turn off, or I’ll pull into a stranger’s drive and wait a couple minutes and then turn around and head home. Too many things can go so wrong in the north woods. There is no such thing as “too vigilant”. for a woman.

    • Kathy says:

      Marlene, I know what you mean. I tend to feel safer in a city (depending upon the neighborhood) because there are other people around. When you’re the only one walking on a dirt road–and you don’t recognize the car–well, stories can start running in your mind. I have never been concerned when driving in a car, though. Perhaps I am lulled into a sense of safety by the car! Thank you for stopping by and offering your comment.

  12. I always love your photos Kathy. The empty shoes photo really fits! Wondering if you just happened to have some baby red sneakers around the house?

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Patty! So nice to see you. 🙂 Actually–I have hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of photos from the past ten years of blogging. So I went searching in the archives under “ab” for “abduction”. Then just scroll down to see what photos speak to the subject. The baby sneakers were photographed in a local garden about ten years ago. I thought they would perfectly fit into the theme!

  13. You brought back lots of memories for me, Kathy. Times I’ve been followed, approached, knowing that if I didn’t walk fast or call out, I’d be a victim, I don’t recall these fears or experiences as a child, but happening once I hit my teens until a few years ago. Females are prey, males are predators in this world for those who have not opened their hearts to a more elevated idea of human beings. I have been vigilant to not be a victim, but that doesn’t mean if I was a victim, it would have been my fault. I have less of that fear now that I’m 60+; there is less interest in hurting an older woman. But now I’m hypervigilant about my 10-year-old granddaughter, and my daughter and I have discussed when is the “good time” to warn her of the predator. So sad.

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  15. Elin England says:

    I know that hazy line between a “real” experience and something that was “made up.” Had a few of them myself, and what I see now is that regardless of the reality or made-up-ness of these memories, they are now just that – memories, collections of thoughts and images that are on occasion triggered by current events, or sometimes seemingly triggered by nothing perceivable. When I can see that they are just thoughts, and that they do not define me, then they dissolve into the mist. I’ve been pondering of late the possibility of letting fear go. Looking back over the last 60 years, I see that I’ve had a pretty good life, with no major calamities to speak of – only the garden variety ones. And yet, I have operated on top of fear for much of it. Not a fear for my physical safety, such as you are speaking of, but fear nonetheless. What becomes apparent is that the relative benign quality of my life is not a result of having lived in fear. Rather, the blessedness of my life has been the case DESPITE the fear. Which leads me to believe that I could have let go of fear a long time ago, and it still would all have been ok. Not sure if this is at all relevant to your post here, or if it makes any sense, but that’s what came up upon reading it. And also, I am so glad that the snow is receding up there in your part of the world!

    • Kathy says:

      Elin, I have been away from home for the past few days and have neglected to respond to your comment here. THANK YOU so much for sharing what you have. I think so many of us operate from a level of fear that has nothing to do with calamities. I so admire you–and a couple other new “Jeannie” friends who keep reminding me that this is so common. I can get in a place of fear just by posting a blog like this (or the UFO one). So many of us perhaps can’t admit that (I can’t always) or have suppressed it (yep, sometimes). I like what you say about the blessedness of your life has been DESPITE the fear. And, oh yes, the snow keeps receding. It’s still receding. Slowly, slowly, slowly…

  16. sybil says:

    I met a few pervs in my youth but didn’t understand the danger … I dimply recall running from a man with his pants down but he couldn’t run … coz his pants wuz down.

    I walk alone in the woods on trails a lot but always have my cell phone. To be honest I worry more about falling whilst alone.

    Your parents must have lost something on that awful day. They no longer felt you were safe … how sad.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh my Sybil! For some reason I started snickering when you described the perv with his pants down who couldn’t run. (I so often wonder what’s going on in the head of someone like that. Are they feeling any shame? Regret? Dismay? Or is it all for the high, and they can’t see beyond that?)

      You are very lucky that your cell phone works in all the places you go. Our service is so spotty it probably wouldn’t work when you needed it.

      I do wonder about how my parents felt. The fact that my mom doesn’t remember this makes me think that perhaps it didn’t effect them as much as it did me. 😦

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