You find yourself working late across campus on a project, and before you know it, you are faced with a dark walk alone at night.

Your keys rattle in your hands as you take calm steadying breaths, trying to remind yourself that you are fine. Somewhere off in the distance you hear a car siren go off, and you jump. Again, you take calm and steady breaths. You suddenly hear footsteps behind you coming closer. Your heart stops, but you’re not sure why. As the person passes you, they keep on walking and you calm yourself once more.

You decide to text your friend and see if she’s awake and can talk to you while you continue your walk. Unfortunately, she is not responding, so you decide to call her. When she picks up, you explain you were walking home alone and wanted someone to talk to. There is a mutual understanding between both women that being on the phone with another person feels safer. You continue your talk and eventually make it back to your building.

After hanging up, you hear someone yell, “Hey!” behind you. Feeling fearful once more, you turn to see someone running toward you, realizing they want you to hold the door for them. You do so, then continue your steady incline up the steps to your room, feeling their presence far too close for comfort behind you. When you realize you are both getting off at the same floor, paranoia sets in. Somehow, even when you are supposedly in the protection of your building, you fear for your safety. A wave of relief sets in when you both part ways at the door, and you take a moment to compose yourself. Eventually reaching your door, you quickly go inside, lock it, and slump to the floor.

For many women, this is a very real reality. Fear is instilled in us at an early age, and usually for good reason. Statistically, one in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Often you hear of stories of women becoming isolated at a party and taken advantage of, but also many times it is as simple as they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

PBS’s (Public Broadcasting Station) writer Mary Dickson once asked women what their worst nightmares were. One woman clearly stated:

"I'm most afraid of being attacked by a man, especially if I'm out jogging or riding my bike or walking. I don't go out alone at night. I used to run with headphones on, and I don't do that anymore so that I can be aware of what's going on around me."

There are unfortunately bad people in this world, and because of this, women have to be vigilant and very mindful of their safety. In the blink of an eye your life can be turned upside down, so please be careful. Walk in groups, stick to well-lit streets, keep pepper spray on you, and keep your phone on you at all times. Be careful, ladies, and have a safe walk home.