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Afraid of being female

According to the National Institute of Justice, one in five women will be raped while in college. According to my anxiety, I am one walk to the commuter lot away from becoming a statistic.

I, like many Americans, have lived the majority of my life with an anxiety disorder. As stated by the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., effecting about 18 percent of the adult population.

Unsurprisingly, women are over twice as likely to be effected by anxiety disorders as compared to men. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a woman is raped in the U.S. every two minutes. How many minutes are left before that woman is me? My anxiety asks me questions like this on a daily basis.

I live at the intersection of my gender and my anxiety. What exactly does this mean?

For me, it means never studying at the library after dark. It means always looking behind my back while I walk. It means panicking when a man I don’t know knocks on my door. It means being afraid to live alone. It means being afraid of the boys my roommates bring home. It means nervously watching out for other girls at parties. It means being afraid of getting home from work too late. It means involuntarily thinking about how easily my windows could be broken into while I’m trying to fall asleep. It means simultaneously trying to drown out the sound of drunken men yelling in the street. It means wondering if they, too, know how easy it would be to get in my home. It means never getting any sleep.

Some days, I am not sure if my exhaustion is a symptom of my anxiety or a result of trying to outrun it. I am tired of being afraid to be female. I am tired of intrusive thoughts and intrusive fondles. I know there are other people who have similar experiences. I am tired of feeling like I am not allowed to speak up about it. If any of this resonates with you, please speak up.

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