Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Watching the night watcher

How to stay safe against sleep predators

I did something silly the other night. In my defense, it was hot, and I was slowly roasting alive in my room. I couldn’t take it anymore. So before going to bed, I threw open my window.

This shouldn’t have been a problem, except that for the second time in four years, a suspected night watcher had been released from custody back onto his familiar beat – the bedrooms of women in Halifax.

The window in question is attached to a decidedly student-owned house. It is also easily accessible by climbing onto a low roof. Worse still, it doesn’t even have the protection of flimsy mosquito netting, because I myself climb through the window multiple times a day because, well, it’s awesome.

But anyways, the point is that when I woke up the sun was shining, a gentle breeze was wafting in through the window, and my nifty angel figurine was missing from the sill. A bolt of nausea immediately ensued, and visions of creepy brown-haired guys in neck warmers (the night watcher’s favourite accessory) flashed through my mind.

As it turned out it was my roommate, and not the modern-day Boogieman equivalent, who had moved the figurine while taking advantage of the roof.

So for me, that one moment of letting my guard down proved harmless. But for more than 20 other women over the past four years, the same has not been true.

It’s a sad reality, but it is reality nonetheless: because of the night watcher it is never OK to leave doors and windows unlocked in Halifax. We can moan about it all we want, but in the end, we must treat it like we do the Maritime’s chameleon weather. I may whine endlessly about the fog, the rain, the cold and the humidity, but I will also without fail bring an umbrella and a sweater with me wherever I go. It’s just common sense.

The same logic applies to the night watcher. Of course, it is the watcher and not his victims who are operating outside the law; the public has a right to be safe in their own homes, and what he is doing is wrong. But until he is caught, we must put aside the ideal and focus on the reality; we have to assume responsibility for our own safety. In all the watcher’s reported cases of break and entry there has never been an actual break-in; there has just been entry, through unlocked doors and open windows.

Whether right or wrong, to a certain extent society does have to adapt itself to the behaviours of these individuals. We either do and stay safe, or we don’t and leave ourselves open to the possibility for harm. No one deserves to be sexually victimized, but we must acknowledge that we always live in relation to other people who may or may not want to climb through our windows and watch us sleep.

I personally hope this never happens to me, partly because I would never want to inflict the image of my sleeping self on anyone (drool). On the bright side, the night watcher would probably take one look and run screaming for the door. Maybe then we could finally catch him.

Samantha Elmsley
Samantha Elmsley
Samantha was Opinions Editor of the Gazette for Volumes 145 and 146.

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