I Am a Weapon

Her Martial Art of Choice

By Ashlee Sierra

Having just finished my last errand of the day, I step into a starlit evening in downtown Boise. The distant sounds of a sleepy city accompany me as I begin the trek back to my car, with nothing but the streetlights and the haunting dance of my own shadow keeping me company.

Buildings rise up high on either side like the walls of a concrete maze, seeming to leer at me as I walk. This isn’t exactly the setting of a horror film, but my heart begins to beat faster anyway, and my imagination latches on to unmoving shapes in dark alleys, conjuring images far worse than the monsters that used to live under my bed. My breath quickens. This is not a dangerous city, but dangerous people come from anywhere, and as a new pair of footsteps begins an insistent rhythm behind me, I feel small, I’m shaking, unarmed—helpless. This is not the kind of nightmare a person wakes up from.

To some, it might seem I’m exaggerating, creating a picture more suited to the first heart-pounding minutes of a crime movie than to an average evening on the streets of Boise. Unfortunately, for a lot of people—especially females of decidedly small build like me—that’s not the case. Boise enjoys comparatively low crime rates, but when the news constantly reminds us of the horrible things human beings do to each other, while the Internet escalates paranoia about personal safety, self-defense is an issue that I think hovers insistently at the forefront of our minds. Awareness and just a little bit of fear haunt our thoughts when we walk through a parking lot, shop alone, or do anything that could make us vulnerable. For anyone not strong enough to fend off an attack and not trained to carry a weapon, every day requires vigilance to ensure that we don’t end up the unlucky stars of Forensic Files.

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