Dear Men,

That time that you said "Hello, how are you?" when I passed you in the mall and I didn't answer, I didn't mean to offend you. I was just a lone female and I was not trying to get myself into a sticky situation. It is not that I judged you by your outward appearance, I just saw you with the few other guys and thought I best be safe. I was alone in a state I don't live in, you understand right?

That time when I was walking down the street after a run and I was wearing leggings and you said "nice" and I instantly froze. I thought of all the different ways I could run to hide from you and get away, or how quickly I could get home. I worried about all the horrible things that you would've done to me and how I needed to call the police. I thought about how no one knew where I was and this was how it was going to end. Then you finished with "shoes." I instantly felt remorse for thinking so lowly of you. You just liked my running shoes and that was it, that is all you said. I just jumped to a conclusion that you were talking about my body and not my bright running shoes.

That time that I was at a stop light and you rolled down your window and honked at me. I tried to avoid eye contact because I didn't need to start my day out negatively. You refused to accept that so you kept trying. I finally looked over and saw you mouth the words "flat tire," but I didn't believe you. I drove the 50 miles to work and then I realized you were telling the truth. I was lucky I didn't get into an accident or cause any additional damage to my car. I don't know why I didn't believe you but I didn't wanna risk pulling over on the side of the road and you stopping, too. I had heard stories of that happening to girls my age and I wasn't about to join the ranks of them.

That time that I was at the beach sitting on a bench on the boardwalk waiting for my friends to arrive and you approached me and asked "Do you live around here? I've never seen you here before." I didn't reply because I was scared of what you would do. You then sat down and I started to breathe heavy and I had set my phone to dial the police within the touch of a button. You told me when I didn't answer how you weren't there to hurt me and that these guys across the boardwalk were staring at me and you wanted to protect me, you knew they were bad news. I hadn't noticed those guys because I was so focused on my phone and trying to hide. You just wanted to help and I thought that you wanted to cause me harm. I want to thank you for sticking around and not leaving me alone even though I came off rude because those guys did approach me and you helped get rid of them. I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't sat down.

That time that I fell when running through the park and you helped me up. I lied and told you that I was fine. You asked if I needed help and if I was injured. I walked off the pain in fear that you would touch me or try to take me somewhere. You were probably just being nice and a genuine human being but I couldn't risk it. I faked a phone call so you would walk away and I would have the ability to hobble back to my car. I didn't know you and I am sorry I couldn't trust you. I was vulnerable and I just wanted to get home safe.

That time that you asked me how to find a store in the mall and I just said, "I don't know" and continued to walk away, I lied. I did know where it was but I just didn't want you to ask me to take you there. I apologized to you and I think you knew I was lying. But again I didn't want to offend you, but I was scared, not of you, but because of what you could've done. You were definitely stronger than me and I wasn't about to find out how strong. You probably genuinely wanted to know where that store was, but I genuinely wanted to stay safe.

So I never meant to offend you and I'm sure you never meant to scare me. This world isn't a safe place, and that is why I ignored you—next time it happens, don't be offended. Keep trying to protect women—we never know your motives but we shouldn't have to be wary of them, and you can be a good example. I was hurt once, and now I have built up walls against you. It isn't fair, but it wasn't fair what happened to me. It isn't fair, what happens to women.