What would you do if a stranger approached you while you were alone and you had nowhere to turn? One Reddit user, aphrodite_whities, doesn't have to imagine much - this exact scenario happened to her when she was 14-years-old. She's shared her story to encourage others to stay aware and stay compassionate.
I was 14 and two girlfriends and I had gone to the theatre in my neighbourhood to see Ghost Rider (my first mistake, I know). We had gone to the 10pm show, so it let out around midnight. It's the only large theatre in the area so it's always filled with moviegoers, but there is very little staff and the hallways are deserted when any movies are in progress. This is all especially true for the late night shows.
When our movie finished, my friends went to the bathroom, as is necessitated by the female movie theatre ritual, and I elected to wait out in the secondary lobby.
That was probably my second mistake.
This theatre, due to its lack of staff, often has more people sneaking into the theatre than people paying for tickets. It is very, very easy to simply waltz in through a side door when another person is walking out.
I was the only one in the hallway which made me a target for an extremely large, homeless/cracked-out-looking 40+ year old black man (only relevant because I'm pale as fuck and he could not pass as my dad). He was built like a truck.
Generally I'm extremely outgoing and can talk with strangers easily; however, the moment I noticed this fellow approaching, an overwhelming sense of fear washed over me and my brain kept telling me to get out of there fast. My naive 14-year-old self decided to stay where I was, thinking: "There's no way in hell anything bad could happen to me since I'm obviously invincible to the world. Bad shit only happens in the news. Don't judge a book by its cover, aphrodite_whities! He's probably a lovely guy."
He approached and asked me if I had any cigarettes. I said no and that I didn't smoke, when he suddenly reached out and grabbed my hand. He stood there shaking my hand saying how he was just dying for a cigarette, increasing his deathgrip every time I tried to pull my hand away. He kept closing the distance between us while strangling my hand and eventually he had me backed into a corner, all the while he keeps fiddling around with something in his pocket (I don't know what it was; he never took that hand out of his pocket the entire time). He kept saying how he wasn't even there to see a movie, just wanted some cigarettes. He was insistent that we go get cigarettes and kept trying to steer me towards the side door.
I was so scared that I was probably on the brink of pissing myself. I looked to see if anyone was around, only to notice my two friends standing outside the bathroom door -- not doing anything while this man was forcing his body onto mine in a public place. They were the only people around and they were just standing there. Understandably, they later said they were confused as to what was happening and didn't know what to do.
Thankfully, a movie lets out right in front of where the man has me trapped.
Every single person passed by without so much as a second glance. Shit, I thought, I'm gonna get kidnapped. This man wouldn't take his eyes off of mine for a second, and pushed his chest against mine every time I looked around for help. I was too afraid to yell.
Suddenly, a group of three guys (probably only around 15 or 16 years old) came straggling out of the theatre. They didn't notice me at first, but just as they were rounding the corner out of the lobby, one of them turned around and stared at me oddly. He mouthed "Do you need help?", and I nodded as discreetly as I could.
The guy came running up and threw his arm around my shoulders, saying things along the lines of "Thanks for waiting, babe. You ready to go? That was a great movie, huh? I'm glad we went in the end. Who's this guy?!" The man instantly lets go of my hand, keeping his other hand in his pocket, and backs away quickly, mumbling how he just wanted a cigarette, and then he ran out of the emergency exit at the back of the lobby.
My guy escorted me outside, and I was in such a state of shock that I think I just hugged him and ran away to my mom who had been waiting in the parking lot. I had been so sure that no one was going to help me, not even my friends, and in such a moment of panic I was really not thinking straight enough to follow the steps I should have (i.e. yell for help).
Ever since, I've made an effort to make sure I'm aware of my surroundings just in case someone needs help but can't ask. Haven't "saved" anyone yet, but only time will tell! The extent of my "paying it forward" is saving girls from bad situations at the bar, nothing heroic yet, but hopefully I'll be able to help someone out when they really need it.
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