Shining a light on our nightmare


Tanvee Patil

Women all over the world fear the idea of walking alone in the dark. The Sidekick communications manager Sreeja Mudumby expresses her concern of not being able to walk alone in the dark due to her gender and corrupt societal norms.

Sreeja Mudumby, Communications Manager

He grabs my arm. 

I do everything in my power to resist, but my strength is no match against his. I fight with everything I have, but it is no use. I cannot see anything while trapped in an isolated alley. He’s coming closer and closer. He’s-

I wake up. 

This scenario creeps into the depths of my slumber many, many times. My mom tells me nightmares occur when the universe is trying to release negative energy from your body. But I think the universe is trying to tell me something. Trying to warn me. 

I, along with many women, cannot walk alone at night without risking our lives. That is by no means an exaggeration; if a woman chooses to walk home alone at night, she is ultimately putting herself at risk. I can’t help but laugh at the fact that walking is something that needs to be done with so much precaution.

I am so grateful to say I have not experienced any form of sexual harassment, but a lot of women cannot say the same. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in five women have experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime, and every one in three rape victims experienced it for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17. 

How has assault become so common?

I have to be back home before the clock turns 7 p.m. The most I can travel alone is to the end of my street. I have to have my location on at all times. My parents say that these rules are for safety.


When I go to school, the grocery store, a restaurant, I can never forget about it; the never ending thought is always tucked away at the back of my brain. This has become a standard for all women, but the fear of abuse should be far from normal. 

It feels as though the safety blanket that is supposed to protect me is actually suffocating me.

Sexual harassment and abuse is one of my biggest fears. Not only do I see it in movies, news, documentaries and books, but some of my very own friends have experienced forceful or manipulative coercion. Of course, all genders experience this problem, but the ratio of men to women who are sexually assaulted on a daily basis varies greatly. Not enough people talk about it because this topic is considered a taboo for many, especially in the Indian community. 

Former Sidekick editor and current University of Texas at Austin freshman Pramika Kadari also emphasizes the importance of talking about this issue as it helps spread awareness. Kadari has experienced sexual assault twice in her life and has opened up about her experience through her social media in order to help others going through the same thing. 

“Talking openly about my experiences with sexual assault is important, because it helps people understand the wide range of what sexual assault actually is, which can help prevent the lesser-known forms of it,” Kadari said via email. “I think some people, especially college students, don’t realize their actions “count” as sexual assault until someone reports them and then Title IX labels it as that. Open discussions about what sexual assault actually is can help stop people from doing it, because they’re more likely to be like, ‘Oh I shouldn’t coerce her at all, because that’s sexual assault, and that’s terrible.’”

Many women are shamed for being victims of sexual assault, while the criminal is never talked about. Phrases such as, “It’s because of what she wore” or “She was practically asking for it” fill the ears of many, delegitimizing the victim for simply being the victim. These make women scared to report or even talk about their cases, undermining the very problem that leaves a lifetime of trauma. 

Speaking about sexual assault and providing physical and emotional support to victims would help destigmatize the issue, and knowing that they have people to come to will help women feel emotionally safer. Holding those accountable for their actions and taking responsibility for our actions is vital if we want to see a positive change. 

“The hardest thing for me has been the fact that the guy I’m reporting has not apologized, has not taken any sort of responsibility,” Kadari said. “I’m sure other victims have felt the same way. If society talks more about how sexual coercion is sexual assault, people would be more pressured to accept accountability. But because sexual coercion is so normalized in our society, I feel like many perpetrators are able to convince themselves, ‘Oh, it wasn’t that bad, she’s just being dramatic,’” 

I am waiting for the day when the man in my dreams releases my arm. The day where the pitch blackness becomes a bright, blue sky. The day where the universe isn’t trying to warn me. 

The day I can walk alone in my own street. 

Follow @sreejamudumby and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.