I'm a Norwegian. We live in one of the most successful countries in the history of mankind. We have social services, free colleges and universities,. a high life expectancy and a country that has enjoyed 70 years straight of peace -- interrupted only by the terrible events of last year's summer. But not all of us feel safe. Not all of us can relax fully and enjoy life. We can't let our guard down and forget for too long at a time. We're constantly reminded.
I lie down on my side to rest for a minute and feel my defense spray in my pocket. Got it in the mail today, and now it reminds me every time I accidentally nudge it. I wonder for how long I'll keep carrying it, if I'll ever get used to it. I hear sounds in the night and freeze because my brain still turns innocent sounds into screams. Somebody touches me innocously and I still go into self-defense mode, 'cause
it reminds me:
I'm not just a student, a civilian, another innocouos youth going on with his daily life. I'm a warrior, and I am under threat. As are all of us.
We feel lucky not to have to live on Svalbard and have to take rifles with them into the wilderness, because they could be attacked by polar bears. We feel fortunate not to live in a war zone where you can't walk to school without fearing firefights, or step off the forest trail for fear of stepping on one of thosedreaded landmines.
Are we much better off, though?
Is it better to survive a traumatic sexual experience in a peaceful country than to take a stray shot in a warzone? The physical effects of the two experiences are completely different, but I have a feeling the trauma from the latter is probably less serious...
So we live our daily lives with the knowledge that we're under threat. We stay indoors at night. We buy pepper sprays and alarms and carry keychains-of-death. We teach each others all kinds of ridiculous, almost superstitious rules that we believe will help keep us safe. Because none of us are. We know that when we hang out with loved ones or walk home or go to a party, we're taking a risk that we shouldn't have to consider. Some of us stop there, feeling content not to delve deeper into the problem. They don't care about attitudes, police efficiency or harsher sentences. As is sexual abuse was something to take for granted, that we couldn't do anything a bout more than we can keep the rain from falling. But...
...it shouldn't have to be like this.
For real. It shouldn't.