Woman's Tweets About An Uncomfortable Encounter With A Stranger Makes A Powerful Point About Safety

"I don't owe anyone anything. Not a smile, not a hello, not a hug. And I'm going to remember that."

Lily Evans took her dog out for what she assumed was going to be an uneventful walk around her neighborhood last week. But after striking up a conversation with an unknown man that quickly made Evans feel uncomfortable, that mundane stroll led her to craft a now-viral Twitter thread detailing why some women are apprehensive about talking to men they don't know.

In the thread, as captured by Upworthy, Evans tries to explain why some women are deemed "rude," cold," or "standoffish" to men in public by discussing her own recent experience. As Evans tells it, she was walking her dog, Echo, when an unknown man offered the canine a treat and then struck up a conversation with Evans. Not wanting to be rude to the stranger who had just given her dog a cracker, Evans answered harmless questions about Echo and mentioned the weather, but the conversation quickly took a turn into uncomfortable territory when the man asked Evans if she lived in the area. 

"Now, as a woman, I don't like that question. First of all, I'm walking my dog, so it's already pretty clear that I probably live fairly close by," Evans tweeted, adding that she answered "yes" and briskly walked away after telling the man she needed to get home. 

(Before you click on the tweet below, note that Evans's Twitter account is adult-only, and may contain some NSFW tweets.)

After walking about 200 yards, Evans paused to text a friend and let Echo sniff something on the ground, at which point the man called her out for not going home like she said she was. "I smiled and said I was just texting a friend back, but was on my way home, which was true," Evans tweeted. "But more explanation than I owed a stranger."

At that point the man grew even more persistent, asking Evans where she lived. As a defense mechanism she lied and said she resided in a different neighborhood, which surprised the man because he creepily remarked that he'd seen her "around often," an indication to Evans that he may have been watching her.

Clearly not aware of how inappropriate his comments and questions were, nor how uncomfortable he was making Evans, the man kept going and asked her if she had family in the area and if she lived alone.

"So now a strange man, over 6 feet tall, probably in the 220-260 pound range, has been watching me, following me, has a rough idea of where I live…," she summarized, realizing this man may very well be a danger to her. "Alarm bells are ringing in my head and luckily this time I can tell the truth-- I do not live alone, I have a former military male roommate. But I'm still scared."

As if that wasn't unsettling enough, the man then asked Evans for a hug, which he gave to her without consent. "I was terrified he would squeeze tighter because I knew he could hurt me if he wanted," she recalled.

Eventually, Evans was able to get away from the man and cross the street, but even after she lost sight of him, she worried he might follow her and figure out where she lived, so she had to take a different route home. Beyond that, Evans was scared about how this interaction would impact her for the weeks and months to come. "So now I need to plan a new dog walking route, and I have to be even more wary than usual after dark (which comes at like 4:45 now, thanks winter.) All because I decided to be nice to a strange man," she explained. "I gave him an inch and he took a mile."

She added, "I don't owe anyone ANYTHING. Not a smile, not a hello, not a hug. And I'm going to remember that."

Evans shared the upsetting encounter to remind others that women typically have no idea what a man might want from them at a given time. This instance, for example, began with innocent conversation but soon turned into something else entirely.

As Evans put it, "Next time a woman on the street comes off as 'rude', remember that we have NO IDEA which men are going to follow us home, or touch us without our consent, or worse."

Several months ago, women of Twitter shared experiences of being asked to smile by complete strangers, and a common theme that emerged then was that, like Evans, many women complied with the request simply because they feared what would happen if they didn't. That's also part of the reason why many women don't typically speak up if they get catcalled — they fear some form of retribution.

After sharing her harrowing ordeal, Evans said she hoped the incident can "make ONE person understand how dangerous 'just being nice' to strangers can be."

Cover image via  Osadchaya Olga I Shutterstock

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