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Even today, many women have a fear of staying alone at night. Not just for practical reasons, but if we want to claim our independence, we have to face our fears.
“She is a woman but she is brave enough to stay alone…at night in her home”. I have heard people say that a lot, as if bravery and womanhood are two very incompatible terms. My mother panics when she thinks of staying home and she never had to because my grandparents stay with her. She has never had to face the fear of staying alone and thus has not been able to overcome that fear.
Today, I still find many women who have the same fear and they suffer miserably. Times have changed. Today, after marriage, many couples shift to new cities or states and the woman finds herself all alone, in an unknown city. This is particularly true for women who are home-makers or are staying away from their families for the first time. But I cannot deny that even working women who have stayed away from their families, still have the fear of living alone. Many of us who are away from our families, have always stayed with friends or roommates.
Women (who have a fear psychosis of staying alone in a house) today have to overcome that fear because not only have our social conditions changed but now it is time for women to be independent. Independence also means not being this dependent on others.
I understand that the fear of being alone for a night can be very stressful for many women and even men. When I stayed with my family, I was scared to sleep alone in a room, even though five other people were always there at our house. The darkness of the room and the stillness made me scared. The sound of wind and shadows never let me sleep. I would only sleep with my grandmother and sister.
When I left home and went to a new state I stayed with a roommate but one day, she had to go somewhere for a week and that week was a blessing in disguise. I overcome my fear out of sheer will. I did it for myself because I wanted to be brave for myself.
I slept in darkness, all alone, with just a thought in my mind: What am I afraid of? The hostel was inside a huge university campus and the security guards are alert. I am past the age of being scared of ghosts. I understood that like most fears, it was the fear of nothing or the fear of uncertainty. I did not call any other friend to spent the night in my room. I could have easily done that, but I was ‘too proud’ to show that I was scared.
That night, I had prayed and had tightly shut my eyes, believing in myself that nothing would go wrong because I am in a very safe place. I fell asleep within minutes and the next morning, I was a different person. The week passed too soon and after that, I was never scared of darkness or loneliness.
For those who fear the ‘ghosts’ just think, what can it do? Do you believe they can kill? Yes, but we all have to die one day, right?
We, the women of today cannot afford to be ‘damsels in distress.’ We move away from our family and in-laws, we change cities, we dream of roaming around the world; we have to stay in a two-member household and may be one day, with little kids too. We need to shoulder responsibility as much as our husbands/partners do. We need to be brave not just for all these reasons but also for ourselves. We need to face our fears.
Image of scared woman via Shutterstock
I got a masters in sociology and now...trying my hands at journalism. Trainee Content
I can very well sensitize with this emotion of being fear as i got trapped by this emotion only 3 months back. One fine night (30th jan), when i came back home along a friend of mine & entered home,i saw my MIL lying in the washroom. After all the struggle when we managed to take her to the hospital, the staff declared her Dead and since then i am not able to sleep at home at night.
Earlier it was difficult to even stay alone but i overcome that fear, hopeful to overcome sleeping at night fear also.
Hi Abhinita…well written. As you rightly said, it is not just the women who are afraid, the men are also equally scared. Why else would they bring along their friends, in the wife’s absence, in the guise of catching up with their friends. ‘Man is a social animal’. That sums it.
Our contribution towards increasing this fear, may factor from the fact that constant idea of a woman in a movie or story always being portrayed as a victim or being saved by a hero or cop (a man of course), whenever she is alone in her palatial bungalow (add on the power cut issue to the eeriness of the scene). How many novels or movies, shows a woman using her presence of mind, to overcome it by herself. (without letting her long flowing hair getting stuck in odd crevices, without giving shrieking sounds, having a face which shows that she is not going to be cowed down by such things).
Have you observed the portrayal of a rape victim in papers….covering her mouth, as she is letting out a scream, cornered in a room, and a silhouetted huge burly figure with hairy hands looming large in the front. Are we sure THIS way we are conveying a right message? Whats wrong in showing the woman defending herself, which she would have definitely done. The perverted men are getting the message that women can be cornered easily and women are made to believe that ‘you can’t fight back’.
Our kids are also tuned to it, by us saying whenever they commit a mistake or are careless, by the words – “didn’t I tell you it would happen? Who asked you to risk it?etc.” By saying so, we are inducing more guilt into their system, and their thought process in not channelised into problem solving.
Next comes the blame game from the society…”who asked a married woman to stay alone?” If she is not married, then “her parents are irresponsible”. If she is a single mother, then “she stays alone with her child, as SHE could not get along with her in-laws..”. Just one request to all these jibber-jabbers, please reverse the gender, and spew your reactions.
When we start accepting criminals as norms and victims should start different defense strategies, then we are right royally welcoming the criminals to continue their crime, and the onus is on the victims and vulnerable now.
Let us make change in the house, by not producing criminals and also not blaming our kids for small faults. Instead let us focus on preventive and problem solving techniques.
Sorry for the lengthy comment….please write more of your thoughts about various issues. We require more people like you to open up many blocked minds. Thanks
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