The Seahawk

Learning from Mollie

Caroline Shaver, Contributing Writer

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Editor’s Note: Caroline Shaver is a sophomore at Cape Fear Community College getting her Associate’s in Arts and is a Contributing Writer for The Seahawk. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. All suggestions and inquiries may be sent via email to vcw6007@uncw.edu.

You are twenty years old and a sophomore at a state university. You are a daughter, sister, a significant other and a friend. You have Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages where you post happy pictures of friends and family along with body positivity messages. You joke about college classes and have a beautiful smile.

This description could be many of us.

It used to be true about Mollie Tibbetts too, but that was before she passed away and became a victim of something we have nightmares about. Although her earthly life has ended, she has lived on in the news because of her disappearance and eventual finding.

A lot has been said about Tibbett’s death and what it means for the nation. There have also been questions over what this means for immigration laws since her alleged assailant was Hispanic. Let’s put that aside for a moment and consider something else.

Women should learn from this situation because there is more danger of history repeating itself if we do not. If nothing at all, at least take away what you shouldn’t do.

With the kidnapping and tragic death of Tibbetts, please do not shake your head in pity and then go back to scrolling through social media platforms.

Please do not forget to say your I-love-yous before you leave the house or a pointless argument.

Please carefully decide your standpoint on life after death because you might see the truth sooner than later.

What happened to Tibbett, may she rest in peace, was horrible. I cannot imagine the pain her family is feeling right now because I do not want to. However, I am considering it because of what happened to Tibbetts could happen to anyone. It could happen to me. It could happen to you.

Tibbetts was twenty years old and a sophomore at a state university. She was a daughter, sister, a significant other and a friend. She liked to be outdoors and jog. She had Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages where she posted happy pictures of friends and family along with body positivity messages. She was a small-town girl in a rural location, but she was still a victim.

Too often we think that if we’re not in a big city, we’re not in danger. We’re forgetting that crime runs on the same circuit as time does: it never stops.

Too often we think that we’re not noticeable or attractive enough. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if the beholder is looking for a victim, they will not care about the crow’s feet around your eyes.

Or much worse… too often we think that we’re unstoppable.

In this respect, society has inflated our confidence in a negative way because that’s not true. It is better to take these hard words from me now then think about them when it is too late:

You are not invincible and neither am I.

No one is.

Tibbetts was one of the many unfortunate women who get abducted and killed. According to the Women’s Self Defense Institute, every 24 minutes a woman is killed, every five minutes a woman is raped and every two and a half minutes a woman is sexually assaulted.

Another reality check; take a look at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) missing persons list. It is overwhelming the amount of unsolved cases of males and females, adults and children. This isn’t to fault the FBI for not solving these cases because unfortunately, as in Tibbett’s case, many of these cases are unsolvable.

The FBI also gave out census statements in 2014 with some hard numbers.

There are 90,000 missing persons in the United States.

Currently, there are about 106,000 citizens living in Wilmington. That’s almost as if this entire busy city got savagely taken and killed.

60 percent of the missing/abducted are adults.

48 percent are female.

Unfortunately, this the truth about the world we live in. It is dangerous, and it will take your life. The question is will you die peacefully, or will you be taken?

I don’t want to speculate on why the world is like this, although that answer is important.

What is more important, however, is how we deal with this fact of life.

Instead of being scared or paranoid, we need to recognize the facts and prepare ourselves. We need to protect ourselves.

There are many different ways we can protect ourselves.

One: Carrying a firearm. In the State of North Carolina, individuals are allowed to buy and carry guns at 18 years old. Guns are a smart choice for protection because they can fit into your purse (handguns), they are useful for close and far-off combat and they have an appropriate scare factor. No one likes a gun to be waved at them. It is frightening and shows serious intention.

Two: Carrying a knife or Taser. These also fit into your purse or pocket but depending upon your skill and gumption, these two won’t normally be as effective as a firearm. Knives require very close combat, and the wielder must be careful not to let the blade be turned around on them. The same thing goes for a Taser. Scare Factor wise, they also lose points. However, if you’re not of the age to carry a gun, don’t feel morally able or because you just plain don’t want to, these could be good options.

Three: Taking a self-defense class. Lots of classes are offered at local martial arts academies around the area that specialize in women’s self-defense. These can be helpful with choices between one-on-one with an instructor or in a group class, whichever you prefer.

There are classes offered even on the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s (UNCW) campus. The three upcoming Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) for women classes are in September, October and November. The classes are three-hour classes, for two days a week, for two weeks. For more information, you can contact the University Police Department. It’s a great program. I’m planning on registering.

Four: Watching YouTube videos on self-defense. If you’d prefer not to invest time in a class this is another good option. There are hundreds of videos out there and you can practice with your roommate if they trust you. Depending on your circumstances though, in-person classes are preferable because it allows for hands-on instruction.

Five: Remember the buddy system? It still applies. There is safety in numbers.

I will never forget a video my parents had me watch as a little kid. Security footage showed a man grabbing a little girl. As she struggled, her little brother screamed so loudly during the encounter that the man let go and ran away. The little brother saved his sister’s life without putting a hand on her attacker.

Have a friend come with you.

Six: Taking advantage of local policemen. If there are policemen in the general area, ask them to walk you to your car, and be frank with them about being unsure of your surroundings. They are officers of the peace and most would be glad to help.

Seven: Be aware of your surroundings. Of course, we have survival habits as humans but in an age of technological advance, we are often caught up in our phones. We listen to music in headphones constantly. We scroll through Instagram as we wait. We text and walk.

Be alert. This doesn’t mean to be constantly in a state of panic, but be observant and use your common sense.

Seven: Remembering that your phone is not a weapon. Sure, you can chuck it at an abductor, but what else can it do? Don’t just rely on cell service. It can fail you.

I highly suggest tapping into these methods because we’d all rather be safe than sorry. If not for you, do it for the ones who would miss you.

The day before I finished this article, on Aug. 31, there was an attempted abduction near UNCW’s campus. A female student was frightened and she wisely ran to the nearest house. This story really shook me because of the eerie timing between this article and the incident.

It was another reality check. These things do happen at home.

Please learn from them.

My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to Tibbett’s family and friends at this time of loss and to all those who have lost someone in this way.

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