Monday, March 20, 2017

To Keep the Koalid Safe

Shana Grice, 19, killed by her ex-boyfriend after the
police turned her away when she asked for help.
Source: The Independent
I read an article this morning that got my blood boiling. Shana Grice had an ex-boyfriend who was stalking her and she went to police for help. The police did not help her and eventually fined her for wasting their time. The ex-boyfriend Michael Lane ultimately killed her by slitting her throat.

I've had pretty strong feelings about men who harm women for my entire life. Maybe it's a bit of a "white knight" mindset, or just the natural reaction that a gentleman has to the idea of a man harming a woman. However, since the Koalid has come along, that natural instinct has been greatly enhanced because every woman I read about I see as someone's daughter.

Then I had some more nuanced thoughts. In my previous post, I talked about the overblown fears of "stranger danger." Humans are notoriously bad at accurately assessing risk. Parents will keep their children inside because of the fear of some imaginary predatory, but those same parents 10 years later will not be there for their daughters (and sometimes sons) when they face the real dangers of domestic violence and abuse.

So, what would I do if the Koalid came to me and told me that a man was stalking or threatening her? The first part of my answer starts long before the event occurs. It starts when I lay the groundwork, creating a relationship where she will feel comfortable coming to me with these kinds of problems. Shana Grice was 19. The article doesn't say, but it's possible that she didn't go to her parents for help because shew as trying to assert her independence. I want to do everything I can to make sure the Koalid will come to me with this and anything else that worries her.

I will do this by not being judgmental when she confides in me. If she tells me about a boy she's dating and I don't think he's a good one, the right answer is not to say "he's a bum, get rid of him." It's to be happy that she is happy, remain vigilant, and keep the lines of communication open.

That was a nice bit of self congratulatory throat clearing before I get to the answer to the hard question of what I would do if she told me that she felt threatened and the police would not help. Of course, my first, visceral response is that I'd go find this asshole and break his fucking legs. Mind you, I have not raised a hand in anger since I was 6 years old, but I think I could figure out how to do it I needed to do protect the Koalid.

Possibly not the best solution.
But is that the right thing to do? There's legal concerns. There's moral concerns. So, maybe the fucking legs should remain unbroken, but I do feel that it is important to know the extent to which I would go, and that is as far as I have to. If I need to stay up all night in her living room to make sure he doesn't break in, I'd absolutely do that. If we need to move across the country to keep her safe, I'd do it without a second thought. I'd even go silent online (the greatest sacrifice of all for someone like me) if that would keep her safe.

Perhaps it would not be necessary to go that far, however. You see, I know the state of mind that can lead a person to behave like Mr. Lane in the story above. I'm proud to say I've never stalked anyone, but I know what it is like to have that hole in your heart; to feel that nothing else will ever matter again except being with this one person again and that your life is over. In that mindset, an individual with a weak moral center can find themselves doing things that they would not do normally.

So, rather than tracking the guy down and breaking his fucking legs, it might be better to track him down and have a chat. Not a "I'll be here cleaning my gun" chat, but an honest man to man chat. The kind of desperation that can lead a person to homicide is similar to that which can lead to suicide, and the solution can be similar. Sometimes a single kind voice reaching out can pull a person back from the edge.


Certainly worth a try first. However, when it comes to the safety of the Koalid from a real threat, I would not rest easily. If she told me that she was scared of a guy, I would not say "oh, I'm sorry to hear that" and send her back to her apartment on her own and hope it clears up.

In modern America, we are used to being safe. We don't make the sacrifices that real personal security would require. Even basic things like situational awareness are alien to most people. How often do you see people walking down the street with headphones blasting music, oblivious to all threats around them? If most people won't curtail their music enough to engage in basic personal safety practices, how many people do you think would actually curtail their daily activities for personal safety. It is a difficult mindset shift to realize that you really face a serious enough threat to require a serious response. It's this resistance to accepting the concept of danger that leads a woman who is threatened to remain alone in her apartment rather than stay with friends of family.

The Koalid in her first music video.
As her father, it is my job to think that way. If I need to take time off work to keep an eye on her and keep her safe, there's no question that I'd that. However, there's only so much I can do. This ties in another concept I have spoken about.

The Koalid, even at her young age, is a relatively public figure. She's all over social media. We bring her to conventions. Lot's of people know her. This is not just because I enjoy the spotlight and want to share it with her (although I do), it also ties into matters of personal safety. It takes a village to raise a child, and sometimes it takes a village to protect one. I like to believe that, as she grows up in the community of people that surround her, she will know that any number of them would come to her aid if she were threatened.

As she grows up, I will teach her not to be ashamed to ask for help when she needs it, and teach her that she has friends, many friends, who would rush to her aid if she were ever in danger. She has parents who would do anything to keep her safe; extended family who would come running without a second thought; and numerous chosen family among our friends in the fandom/convention/faire circles who I would expect would come running as fast as any family member would.

And, if all else fails, there's always the option of breaking the guy's fucking legs.

Not my first option... but still an option.

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