It can happen here

Erica Weisburn

I was exhausted.

It was around midnight on Wednesday night, and I was falling in and out of consciousness. Steph had left for the night, not an unusual occurrence. I’ve always been the paranoid type. Sleeping in an empty apartment always made me a bit uncomfortable, but I turned off all the lights and went to bed. I was barely asleep when I heard the apartment door open. I thought, “Is Steph home?” After a minute of silence, I got concerned.

I tried to convince myself it was something outside. All the windows were open and bumps in the night play mind games. I also knew that if I didn’t at least check I wouldn’t be able to sleep well. So, I crept into the dark abyss, also known as my living room. I was unarmed, barely awake, and ashamed that I still look in my closet every night before I go to bed. Yes, I do. Feel free to humiliate me. Nevertheless, I wondered through my apartment looking for some peace.

Instead, I saw a silhouette of a man standing in my dining room. He didn’t see me at first. He just stood there in pitch black. My heart began to race. I’d never been that terrified before. No words came from my mouth. At that moment, I don’t think I remembered how to speak. I was hoping it was a dream. Maybe I was just imagining a figure, but I wasn’t. The light through the window confirmed his existence. All I could think was: Damn it!

He turned and we made eye contact. It was for only a second, but it felt like forever. I kept guessing what his next move would be. Was he going to attack me? Did he steal anything already? Is he armed? Do I know him?

Luckily for me, seeing that in fact someone was home scared the robber from my apartment. He yelled, “Oh, shit!” and ran out the door. I began to cry hysterically. I locked the door, ran to my room, and called my dad.

I’ve never been so afraid in my comfort zone before. I used to think stuff like this doesn’t happen in Kent. But it does. Here are the facts:

In 2005, Kent experienced a 6 percent increase in major crime offenses. The number of robberies, in particular, rose 22 percent, according to the Kent Police Department 2005 annual report, which was released in March 2006.

Numbers don’t lie. Be smart. There are plenty of ways to prevent this from happening to you. Make sure you always lock your door. It can’t hurt to own mace. Keep it by your nightstand. You never know when you might actually need it. You always have the right to protect yourself.

While writing this column so many more questions are running through my head. Like: What if I would have ignored the sound and fell back asleep? Could I have been harmed?

Don’t be a victim. My ignorance to violence and crime could have proved fatal that night. Luckily for me, the robber was a coward. Fortunately for him, he didn’t steal my laptop or his fate wouldn’t have been as good as mine.

Erica Weisburn is a junior newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].