Staying Hidden

My husband acted like it was Christmas when he opened the box. He interrupted dinner and everything when the UPS man came with this box. “I have a present for you!” He said. He was smiling and ripping off the tape quickly to give me this gift. They girls stopped eating to help him adding lots of “What is it!” “What did you buy!?”


Jed pulled out a belt-like-strap-thing and said “It’s a reflector for you to wear when you run. It’s super lightweight and easy to wear, and now you can be seen when you run so early in the morning as I worry about you running in the dark.”


But I don’t want to be seen.


I want to be a black shadow in the night.


I want to be hidden.


I want to go unnoticed.


I want to go untouched.


Not from cars – the reason my husband bought the reflector – but from men.


Um, yeah, thank you Jed….but I don’t think I’d wear that as I don’t want to be seen when I run.


You don’t want to be seen? I don’t get that. Aren’t you worried about getting hit?


No, I’m not afraid of cars.


I run in all black because I don’t want to be seen. I take full responsibility for watching out for vehicles and assume they cannot see me – so I give them the right of way – always – all five or so of them that I see. I feel safe from cars.


“I don’t understand. I’d feel better if you wore a reflector.”


It’s because you’re 6’4″ and 220 pounds and a man. You think about getting hit by a car. I think about being attacked by a drunk man coming home from the bars. I think about being raped. I think about it every time I step out of the door to run alone…whether at 3:30am or 3:30pm. So I run in all black and hope that I won’t be seen.




Because I have been seen. The time two teenage boys on a scooter saw me. Thought I was maybe a deer – a shadow – but they circled back to see. By that time I knew they were headed back my way so I left the pavement and started through yards. They followed me through yards – trying to hit me with their scooter. Yelling things they were going do to me when they caught me. They were maybe 17 or 18. Maybe had been drinking. Maybe not. Two white boys in polo shirts and nice looking shorts and expensive tennis shoes – that’s how close they came to me. But when they realized we were now less than a block from the police station and that’s where I was heading – they took off.


Or that time that the two young men in a car did spot me and came around again for another look. Yelling “Hey baby – I’m gonna take a piece of that!” I yelled back “I’m old enough to be your mother!” as I dug out my pepper spray and my phone to call 911. They followed along for one more minute and yelled to me “Yeah, ain’t gonna fuck no mom!” It was too dark to get a picture of their plate before they drove off.


Some people may call me stupid because I run before dawn. That I take too many chances. That I run alone. That I deserve it because I’m purposely putting myself in a potentially bad situation.


I call bullshit.


And I hate that I have to worry – because no woman should have to. I like to run when it’s dark and cool. I like to run before my family gets up so my running doesn’t cut into our busy days.


I should be able to run whenever I want to run and wear a reflector because all I have to worry about are a bunch of cars.


I shouldn’t have to carry the pepper spray that my husband also bought for me.


I shouldn’t have to worry  about a stranger or someone I know attacking me or raping me.


But does it matter what time I go running really? Because a 15 year old was attacked just a few blocks from our house yesterday in the middle of the afternoon.


I hate that I have to tell my daughters over and over and over to stick together. Always have a buddy. Never walk or bike alone. I HATE that I want them to not be seen.


I hate that they have to stay hidden to be safe. Not just from strangers, but boys in their schools and neighborhoods. And no not all boys and men are a threat. But yes all women have to worry.


And I have to explain to them why men can run at 3:30am with reflective gear and water, but women run hidden in black with pepper spray, knives, and 911 on speed dial.


That we have to live with fear every moment.


And what do we need to do to change that reality.

About Tracy

My name is Tracy Morrison and I live in sunny Minnesota. I'm neither British nor a nun - I'm just a Midwesterner with a headache. This is mainly a humor and lifestyle blog that documents the lighter side of parenting. I am an ex-corporate ladder climber turned freelance writer, social media manager, world traveler, and marathon runner. I would love for you to contact me at

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  1. says

    Yes! Once day, a boy I had never seen before was following my daughter up the street as she walked home from the bus stop. I heard him ask her two or three times if she remembered him. I tried to act calm, to not chase him down the street with at pipe from our garage. Turns out he was a kid who attended her school last year, and he was now in middle school. He had a growth spurt, and by not seeing him at the bus stop everyday, I didn’t recognize him. I was totally terrified by the possibilities of ‘what if?” Been trying to teach her situational awareness ever since.
    DivaScript recently posted..Throwback Thursday: Divalocks

    • says

      A thousand times yes! I just wrote a piece called “The Rest of Your Life” at my blog about this! It is about my two year old daughter and how strangers touch her without asking, as if girls are born with no boundaries around them and are supposed to be flattered by an act of violation when someone coos and touches their head or arm. How dare a stranger or anyone touch a child without permission? And I have looked for it, you don’t see this happen with boys, even toddlers! We are teaching our girls to be polite in the face of that and I for one, will not have it. I have made it clear to my daughter to tell an adult not to touch her and that it is not okay for an adult to do that. She should not have to quietly accept it. We are conditioning young girls to be polite about a violation, and this is part of where it all goes wrong! I can see her flinch and it pains me greatly to see it. I speak for her now, until she can. I say “Please don’t touch someone without asking. Would you want someone to touch you and expect that you be flattered by it? I have had it up to here with strangers doing this with my child! Thank you for writing this piece!

  2. says

    Standing here with my bullhorn, friend.

    Bull shit.

    But also, beware. We have to carry the extra burden of doing both. I have to believe we’ll get there. Until then, linking arms, in the dark and in the light.

    Amanda recently posted..Not Yours

  3. says

    Absolutely. I hate that we have to think about this. It is always on my mind when I go for a run or I come home late and on my walk home from the subway. I hate that your girls have to be hidden to be safe. Yes, we do have to keep calling bullshit. Love you for writing this.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Calavera Loves Boobies

  4. Heather says

    Ironically enough- as a 4 a.m. Runner, I take the opposite approach- the phone’s still set to autodial 911 ( we live on the fringes of a nature preserve, and I’ve encountered unrestrained dogs at that hour. It’s multi precautionary) and pepper spray is still in pocket for the same reasons. But I go for high visibility and greet everyone. I expect people in cars to return my waves, and they do. My benefit in this case emerged after I was laid up for a while- people were worried they didn’t see me. My neighborhood has a high number of registered sex offenders. Maybe it’s a don’t mess where you eat thing, but my approach is based on forcing them to see me, so they know I see them, too. Then again, there’s also a larger number of law enforcement officers in our neighborhood.
    I had more problems at times when I tried to hide, etc. Maybe it’s from acting like prey vs ensuring my current method which is definitely not prey behavior. It’s a shame we live in the world we do. We shouldn’t have to worry about the things we do. But I actually think because I force attention, I don’t get grief.

    • says

      I love your approach of not acting like prey. You are brave. I love that.


      I used to do this too. Until I couldn’t anymore because of the attention that it brought.

      Maybe one day again. xo

  5. says

    I’m so glad Christine linked to your post! I, too, call bullshit. I’m an early morning running. I don’t want to hide and I don’t want to be seen and I don’t want to have to worry about this every single time I go out for a run. Great piece of writing!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..High Five Friday

  6. says

    oh Tracy. Yes, we must change this fear and this way of thinking.
    I think of the two men that I am raising and I remind myself that I am responsible for their thoughts and way of treating other human beings…men and women. I remind myself that I have a chance as a woman to influence the minds of two young men who can speak and be an example for the other young men (and women) in their lives…and that if that is all I ever accomplish in this life (to have sons that you would never be afraid of, young men that knew that power and value in respect, then my work here as a mom, as a woman and as a human would be done.

    what an incredible piece of yourself you’ve shared.

    I call BULLSHIT with you.

  7. says

    I’m so sorry that you have to think about this; that we all have to, whether it be with running or walking home from the train at night. It is so incredibly frustrating. Calling bullshit with you.
    Shannon recently posted..Home

  8. says

    Thank you for this post. A friend of mine is also an early morning walker, she has a flashlight that doubles as a stunner. She rarely has the flashlight on, but feels much safer having a stunner available.
    katie recently posted..Summer 2014 Workout Plan

    • says

      Now sadly researching stunners… And good luck on your 1/2 this month! Maybe I’ll see you in Duluth!

  9. says

    I hate that as women we constantly have to worry about this. I walk with a friend in the morning and I worry as I walk home alone, I worry when I go to the mall at night and these are all things my husband would never have to worry about. I don’t know how we change things and as I raise a son I think about what I need to do so that he doesn’t grow into that type of man.
    Julia recently posted..May Happiness Project Recap

  10. says

    When we lived in Kansas City proper, I used to meet a friend to go running at 6 am in the dark. Until I met up with her, I would be absolutely terrified, my heart racing. After I moved out of that neighborhood, there was a rapist who would crawl in women’s windows who went a whole terrifying summer before he was caught. I ended up not running in the morning because I was too scared. Now I run around noon, always, even in 100-degree heat. I just do.
    Rita Arens recently posted..The Soaking

    • says

      Good for you to run in that heat – maybe it’s weird that I’d rather take chances at 4am than to deal with what 100 degrees does to me(mainly makes me hate running..ha!). Why should we even have to make choices like that? So scary.

  11. says

    This is so resonant. I too run in the dark and my husband also bought me a reflector. I said to him then and I still wonder: but does this protect me or draw attention to me? As you say, I think it’s the latter, and that’s not what I want. But you’re also right, that as a reality is terrible. I hope we can change it. xo

  12. says

    It’s not right that we’ve got to worry about this. Not. At. All.

    Have you taken a self-defense class or any kinds of martial arts? Wondering if that would give you more confidence and the ability to look them in the eye (which I’ve always heard you’re supposed to do). Martial arts are supposed to be fabulous for young girls, too. Maybe it’s something you could all do together.
    Angie Kinghorn recently posted..Are you “just a mom”?

  13. says

    Exactly, Tracy. We all know the feeling… wishing to shrink, and be unseen in order to be safe.
    Thank you for lending your voice to the calling out of bullshit. It’s something we must keep doing…
    and I am honored to be raising the boys I am raising… so that the world can be a better place for girls like yours.
    Jenni Chiu @ MommyNaniBooboo recently posted..Worth a Share – Real Men’s Activists, Laci Green, and Reading Rainbow

    • says

      I love your fight and you fearless love to make things right. Your voice is powerful and I love you. xoxoxo

  14. says

    I hate this worry. I hate it for myself, for my girls. I know the things I’ll show and tell my boy so that he knows what not to do, who not to be with, how to be a protector rather than a predator. God, I just typed that. I have to teach my boy (thinking goodness is innate is probably thoroughly delusional) what not to do and teach my girls how to survive. I understand the dark clothes.
    Arnebya recently posted..Reprogramming

  15. says

    Tracy, this is a wonderful and moving piece of writing. The only things I can offer are solidarity and support. Keep running. When you want, how you want, how you need to. It’s your story, after all.

  16. says

    I hate it too. I hate that if I pass a man coming the opposite direction, I feel like I need to sneak looks over my shoulder to make sure he didn’t turn around and start following me. I hate that I have to remove one of my earbuds when I pass a man so I can hear if he yells something or God forbid starts running after me.
    Leigh Ann recently which I talk to you about my hair

  17. says

    I hate that, too. I hate the feeling of quaking knees that can barely hold me as I run away, in adrenaline fueled fear. I hate that I have to look over my shoulder and keep my eyes up, never day dreaming, always being alert… an ear and eye atune to any shift in my environment. I hate that so much. I hate that the first thing I think of when I have to go somewhere alone at night is how far away will I have to park. There never is the freedom to just do, it’s always surveying first, and assessing risk, outweighing possibilities.

    I hate that, too.

    alexandra recently posted..I Don’t Understand This Weepiness Over High School Graduation

    • says

      There is never the freedom to ‘just do’ – and the lists of things I tell my daughters before they go or do anything. Am I instilling fear or safety?

  18. says

    This is painfully spot-on. Maybe a mounting chorus of bullshit-calling can make some sort of difference. I at least appreciate knowing I’m not the only one who has these thoughts.
    Amy recently posted..How I Write

    • says

      I hope we can make a difference. I hope this week that a message has been sent that we are officially calling bullshit. xo

  19. says

    Yep. I worry every time I see someone when I’m running. I have pepper spray and often forget to carry it. Never thought to have 911 ready to go, although I’d probably never get it out of my armband in time. It’s a shame, but it will never get better. It’s been this way since the beginning of time. Women will always be objectified by men – not all men, of course. But too many, just the same.
    Jo-Lynne Shane {Musings of a Housewife} recently posted..Coffee Talk

    • says

      Yes – each time I have a conversation with my daughters about their safety when riding a bike in our neighborhood, I just want to scream.

  20. says

    A few years ago a beautiful university student came home to Ottawa to visit her parents (she was attending school in another province) and she went for a jog, during the day, down a popular bike/running path surrounded by water and trees. It’s such a scenic part of Ottawa. She was raped and murdered by a man. Every time I drive by the bridge over the pathway I see flowers there, in memory of her. Can you imagine? (You can.) How horrific and tragic it is, how sad. I’m not a runner but even walking to my car can be scary sometimes. Once when I was waiting for a bus in D.C., a msn in an orange pick-up truck stopped and asked me if I wanted a ride. I said no. He drove off, and came back, asking me to get in. He did this one more time and I was scared out of my mind, I’ll never forget that feeling.

    • says

      Oh this just hurts my heart. Middle of the day in a scenic location – how, why, why does this have to be our world?

  21. says

    Tracy, Wow, powerful. Glad you are okay! I had something similar happen to me when I was in grad school and walking near Georgetown, outside of DC. A pack of teenage boys were following me in a car at dusk and kept circling me and shouting awful things at me. There were no other people or cars in sight until I saw one car approaching and noticed that there was a car seat and another little kid in the back seat. I jumped in front of the car to stop it and the completely freaked out couple let me in their car with their two kids as I told them that I was in danger of being attacked. They drove me to my destination. It was a terrifying experience and I hate to think of what would have happened to me had that couple not driven by at that time and had I not stopped them.

    I recently took this self defense training my daughter and several of her friends and their moms and I would HIGHLY recommend it for any women and tween/teen girls! They do in person or on-line training and it is a truly amazing, life saving program that empowers women so that we can feel safer and not become victims.

    Thanks for sharing your story! Stay safe out there, Tracy!
    Julie Burton recently posted..My Writing Process

  22. says

    The dorms I lived in my first two years at college were in what was called The Valley. There were various sidewalks and paved paths to get up to main campus for class, but the quickest was up behind the health center. You had to go a bit through the woods and it was nicknamed The Rape Trail. There were police boxes all over that spot. For a reason.

    Last summer I walked five miles every evening. A couple of my girlfriends in the sub ran in the evenings too. One night I got a text that said, “be careful when you walk tonight. I was followed back to the sub by some dude. I ran to Kelsey’s house so she could bring me home the rest of the way.” I didn’t do my walk that night. And I started taking my cell phone with me after that.

    This world sucks.
    Katie Sluiter recently posted..Project 365 {week 22}


  1. […] Staying Hidden Over the long weekend, I was mostly off-line. But on Monday night, I found myself reading the #yesallwomen hashtag that emerged following the shootings in Santa Barbara and that was trending on Twitter over the weekend. It’s probably one of the important conversations going on. This piece from Tracy at Sellabit Mum really hit home and is something that I think that many of us, especially those of us who run, can relate to. […]