How to Lure the Wolf

The first time a man chased me I was jogging. I was a senior in college and ran the campus perimeter at night after I finished working on my thesis. The sidewalks were well-lighted and the campus security guy waved to me from his car on his evening cruise around the neighborhood. This was a safe neighborhood. A rich neighborhood: rhododendrons and camellias and manicured lawns. It was 2001; it would be two years before I owned my first cell phone.

The red pickup truck came up on me fast. It wasn’t just one man; there were four— two in the back, in the bed of the truck— and they were screaming. I turned and ran down the next street; an alley, and they followed in the truck, speeding up behind me. I remember the headlights bouncing white light on the guardrail covered in blackberry brambles where the road ended. I turned and ran hard through the side-yard of the last house, through the backyard, and over the small chain-link fence, into another yard. I ran through a garden, zig-zagging, not looking back to see if the men were following; praying I would not run into a yard I could not escape from, praying I would not get lost, praying they were not still coming after me.

I got drugged, once. My boyfriend brought me a Tanqueray and tonic; we were at a bar. I took a large sip, swallowing too much before I realized the flavor: salt.
I looked at him in horror and said, “What’s in this? Did you watch the bartender make this?”
He was defensive; finally he admitted he had not, he had wandered off to talk to the DJ. While I was yelling at him, a man walked up to us and asked me if I was okay, did I feel safe.
I lost consciousness while my boyfriend was driving me home. The last thing I remember was begging him to not leave me alone. We were crossing the Ross Island Bridge. When I woke up in the morning, I was by myself, and my front door was unlocked.

Years earlier, the morning after I was raped, I found a hank of my own hair on the kitchen floor. It had been ripped from my scalp at the root while he dragged me to bed. My own hair and blood and bits of skin; I carried them to the trash bin.

Twice, at work, I have had a plate thrown at me in rage. Allow me to clarify: a 45-pound metal plate, the sort that slides on to the end of an Olympic bar. (I am a personal trainer by trade.) I stepped out of the way both times. Both men swore, turned and ran— no apology. One of them was mad at his boyfriend; the other was mad about having to replace a refrigerator in his restaurant.

In the wild, they are worse. The harassment and catcalling are unending. The irate middle-aged white guy in a jersey screamed, “What the fuck did you do to your body!” as he biked by. He meant my tattoos; it was summer, I was wearing shorts.

At my grandmother’s wake, many years ago; I heard, from across the room, my grandfather (the bereaved) say to my dad’s best friend, “Tasia’s turned into quite the hot little piece of ass, hasn’t she?”

Last year I had my neighbor arrested for harassment. He sent hundreds of text messages and called and left threatening voicemails after I told him I was not interested in dating him. He beat on my door for five straight minutes one morning, and then left a pint glass of vodka outside. Open up. It’s just a gift. (I did not.) Cite-and-release; the jails are full. He stayed next door; I moved across town until he was evicted.

I worked in a strip club for the better part of a decade. Two years in, I accepted an editing job at a publishing company, and on my first day, discovered workplace sexual harassment. The CEO came up behind me while I was typing, and put his hands on my shoulders and started rubbing.
I spun in my chair and said, “What the fuck are you doing? Get your fucking hands off me.”
He held up his hands: Whoa, take it easy.
I could not believe it. In all my time working in the bar, no one had dared touch me. I was furious that I had crafted my résumé for this new job so well to hide my years in the strip club, as though it were something I should have been ashamed of. There were rules and consequences in those bars, and better men.

The last time I was chased by a man was last year.
I am forty-two years old now; the first time I was chased was literally half my lifetime ago. This time, I was also coming home from a run, but in broad daylight. I saw the man on the other side of the street, he was walking the opposite direction when he noticed me. I could tell he noticed me because he started walking backwards, staring at me. I did not make eye-contact, I was looking down at my phone. But I saw. When the bus passed, he stepped into the street, crossing toward me. I broke into a full sprint, and so did he.

He was yelling. What was he yelling? He was yelling that he wanted my number. Baby, baby, baby.

I have had two abortions. Neither are relevant here.
Our reproductive rights?
No. That is not what this is about.
This is about their right to fuck you in any way they want.

Author: `aqaq`

Tasia Bernie is an essayist, and editor of  She enjoys used bookstores, offal, and hard laughter.  She is a very good eater.  She lives with her daughter and two orange cats in Portland, Oregon.


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