How to Deal with Unwanted Male Encounters in Mexico
I have always been told that traveling will broaden your horizons but I never thought that would also include personal boundaries as well. Recently, I was approached by a young man who had followed me, or rather stalked me, as I walked to the school where I teach in Mexico.
You see, I walk to work the same way each day. Generally, I exchange a friendly buenos dias with shop owners as I pass by without consequence. As I walked along, on this particular day though I noticed an individual continuously following me. I became very aware of my surroundings thereafter but kept walking to my work. Just when I thought he had left me for good, he sped past me on his motorcycle, got off of it and popped out between two parked cars. He stood in front of me with his arm held out to stop me and proceeded to speak to me in Spanish.
At this point, every worse case scenario flashed in my mind but my initial reaction was very fight or flight. It was such a shock to see a human being standing directly in my path, and I sidestepped to avoid him and then walked past him. It all happened so quickly that I could not really believe it happened afterward, as I replayed the situation over in my head. As I continued to walk, I glanced behind me and saw that he was still watching me. I guess he did not understand that his attention was unwanted.
How to Deal with Unwanted Male Encounters in Mexico.
This is not the first time that a woman has had this type of encounter but for me, it was my first experience and I really did not know how to register it in my mind. Catcalling is one thing but there has always been a safety blanket of distance between me and catcallers. No personal boundaries are crossed. In this situation though I realized the key difference was that this boundary line was overstepped. Because I was so shocked, I didn’t know how to react.
And the a flurry of questions came: Did I put myself in that situation? Did I do the right thing? Maybe I overreacted and he just wanted to chat? Could I have protected myself if needed to? Then feelings of guilt yet helplessness surfaced and I had no idea why. As I had these thoughts swirling about in my mind, I noticed this young man was STILL watching me as I continued to walk away. Luckily, I ran into a fellow teacher who helped me calm my nerves and make sure that this guy did not see my final destination.
After talking to fellow teachers who have experienced similar situations, I have compiled a list of safety tips.
How to Deal with Unwanted Male Encounters in Mexico:
1. Be calm but cautious
Of course it is difficult to be calm in such a situation but it will help you not misjudge the situation. However, be cautious to not let a situation progress so much so that you lose control of your safety.
2. Stay on busy streets and areas with a lot of traffic
You will be less likely to be the sole target if there is a lot movement and action around you.
3. Walk with purpose
Whenever I am in an area that I am not familiar with, I make sure to still walk with purpose so that it looks like I know where I’m going, even if I have no clue where I am. Walk away from an unwanted situation with confidence.
4. Know your limit
If someone gets too aggressive or invades your personal space, try to regain your personal space. Communicate through body language by taking a step back or just asking them to move.
5. Remove yourself from the situation ASAP
If you feel threatened or uncomfortable, there is no reason to keep yourself in harm’s way. Walk away and be sure whoever is bothering is not following you. Be sure to enjoy yourself when traveling and do not be afraid to have fabulous experiences. But of course, safety comes first.
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