People Reveal The One Moment From Their Childhood That Made Them Realize The World Isn't Such A Safe Place.
People on Reddit were asked: "What was the first event that disproved your childhood belief that the world is a safe place?" These are some of the best answers.
2/26 When I overheard my aunts and uncles talking about Adam Walsh. A stranger took a child, that was roughly my age. The thing that really got me was my uncle saying "God knows what else he did to him."
3/26 When my dad reacted nervously around an aggressive stranger
Up until this point, I'd encountered weird people and situations, but my parents had remained calm. This one time, I was about 6/7/8 and my dad and I were fishing in a stream and some guy came at us.
My dad's whole demeanor changed. There was no sweet talk in his voice, it was just "Grab your stuff, we have to go... forget the cokes! Grab the rods!" I could tell by his panic and seriousness that this person was a real threat to us. That things could go... wrong.
4/26 When I was 3 my parents took me on a road trip to visit my aunt and uncle. It was a 6 hour car ride so I fell asleep in the back. When we got to their house they left me sleeping in the vehicle and went inside rather than taking me out of my car seat. My aunt had been working as a clown and thought it would be a great idea to come out and greet me in her costume. So I woke up in a strange place without my mom or dad and then I see this creepy clown flailing its arms and running towards the car. It was at that moment that I new the world was a horrifying and untrustworthy place. I still hate clowns to this day.
5/26 Some guy tried to get me into his car when I was riding my Big Wheel in front of our house. I'd never been told not to get in someone's car, but I'd been given the "don't talk to strangers" speech.
I told my mom about having not talked to the stranger who tried to give me a ride, and that's when she educated me on kidnappers.
Not wanting to scare me too bad at the age of 5, she picked a relatable topic by telling me that if I go with a kidnapper they will spank me.
That was enough for me.
6/26 My Dad dying right in front of me when I was 6 years old.
7/26 9/11 rocked my adolescence. The world didn't feel right after that.
8/26 I was 10 when this happened, dad was 46. I lived in Papua New Guinea with my parents when Sandline happened. It was a really dangerous time for ex-pats, so we were rushed out of the country by the company dad worked for. When we got to the air port, there were a heap of locals out the front rioting. The security guy with us protected mum while dad was carrying me. Dad didn't really need his own security guy cos he's 6'3", looks quite intimidating when he needs to, and even now at 65 he's still surprisingly strong.
Someone in the crowd bumped into dad pretty hard and I slipped out of his arms. Another guy grabbed me by the hair and started dragging me to the back of the crowd. I guess he thought "Little girl, easy target". I saw dad turn around and he his face went from panic to full blown white hot rage when he saw me being dragged away.
Dad charged through the crowd, did something that the guy let go but he fell on me. Dad kicked him off me, scooped me up and charged back through the crowd into the airport. I had a lot of blood on me, but only a few grazes on my legs, no injuries bad enough to explain the amount of blood.
It wasn't till I was in my teens that mum explained that dad had grabbed the guy's left shoulder with one hand, his right arm (the arm he was holding me with) with his other hand and held the guys arm still while spinning him to the left. Dad broke the guy's arm (bone through the skin break) and had kicked him in the face, so the blood on me was from where dad had injured him.
9/26 My house was burgled when I was 10 and the thief broke in through my room and ransacked the house. I remember standing in my room and thinking a stranger has been through my things. My privacy felt completely invaded. My home, and my room wasn't safe anymore. Nowhere was safe. I didn't sleep very well for a while after that.
10/26 I live in Australia, home of infamous serial killer Ivan Milat. One of his murder victims was a customer of my father, so I regularly saw her every now and then. One day I see the reports on TV and see her listed as murdered, that really hit me; literally no one is safe.
11/26 On my 10th birthday party a woman off her bipolar meds ran her car into a concrete underpass right in front of my house, the car instantly was on fire. Having my birthday party go from all happiness to the smell of a burning body and panic within 30 seconds, still bothers me 15 years later.
12/26 I was about 15 working my first job at McDonalds. I was taking an order from a guy when suddenly he was shoved into my register from behind. He turns around to see another guy and out of nowhere they start brawling in front of the counter. The guy who started the fight is having the crap beaten out of him and eventually retreats and leaves the store, and the other guy simply returns to my register and keeps ordering. He said he had no idea who that guy was or why he wanted to fight.
13/26 My first memory that I can recall. Until I was 6 we lived in Uvalde, TX (really close to the border of Mexico). When I was 3 or 4, I remember waking up and a man was trying to kidnap me. My mom walked through the door with a pistol in one hand and a mag light in the other. After extensive application of mag light (couldn't shoot, I was in the way) he was carted away by an ambulance and a border patrol escort.
14/26 I think I was around 6 years old. I grew up in rural Lancaster County. A young woman had been attacked and abducted not too far from my house. Luckily, she found an opportunity to escape from the car, and an Amish man had helped defend her from the abductor. The person sped away and was never caught. After that, I was never allowed to ride bike by myself or go down to the pond, and we started locking our doors at night.
15/26 When I found out we had a 'panic room' in our house.
We live right in the middle of two suburban (for lack of better word) 'gangs', and when I was about 6, they would have regular machete fights on our driveway.
16/26 When I was ten I fell and split my chest open on the gate of my childhood home. Not only was the world not safe, but my world at home wasn't safe either.
17/26 The first event I can remember that shocked me as a child was when this kid came roaring through our quiet neighborhood in his loud car and deliberately HIT a dog and killed it. I happened to be playing out front in the yard with 2 of my friends - we all witnessed it. I remember just looking in disbelief ... crying, because we all liked the dog so much - why would someone do this?
18/26 We were 10 years old, I walked into my Science class, the teacher starts the class. About half an hour later, she gets a phone call and turns on the TV.
We see video of a plane hitting the World Trade Centers, look up and see the teacher crying at a point in time where being an adult meant you were supposed to be superhuman.
19/26 10 years old/late 70's -- Walking home past the high school and watched a fight unfold between two big kids. One almost killing the other from blows to the head. No one there to break it up. Brutal.
20/26 My older brother, dad and I were having a late afternoon walk. I was 5 years old. My dad always used to have one of those sheathed blade type walking sticks. We also never used to walk without our German shepherd Rex. I never understood the need for all that until that day. While walking, Rex [got] all alert. I mean the whole stand still, ears pointed, face of battle I'm gonna [mess] someone up type deal. We notice two shady looking guys walking towards us on opposite sides. My dad stops. I had no clue what was going on. One tried dashing towards us. Dad slightly unsheathes his blade. Rexy was barking at the other guy. Next thing I know they ran away. Asked my bro while we were going to bed if they were thieves and he told me they were kidnappers. There were a few cases of kidnapping in the past year. I was super freaked.
21/26 When I was four, I asked to go outside for too long. My mom dragged me out of the house, told me to never come back, and locked the door behind me. We lived out of town which meant long windy roads and forest everywhere. My mom always told us about cars hitting kids, wolves and cougars killing kids and small animals, people kidnapping. and I had no clue how to take care of myself. We actually lived in a pretty safe area where most of the crime was pot. But that day I knew my mom didn't care about me and would hurt me if she felt like it.
My dad found me outside after work crying, but I never felt safe at home again with her.
22/26 When I was around 6 or seven years old, a heroin addict overdosed in the alley behind my building. Some hours later his mother found him and cried hysterically while cradling him in her arms. I remember getting a sick feeling in my stomach, not being able to fully comprehend what I was seeing, yet still feeling uneasy and exposed to a horrible truth. I believe this ensured I would never ever touch heroin, this image is burned into my brain.
23/26 Growing up in east Germany and when the wall came down there were all the horrible news on tv about war and crime.
24/26 My father worked for a large US company and when I was 8 he got a promotion and we moved to Mexico City. This was in the late 70s. A year later the company issued us 24 hour bodyguards. Guns were a rare thing in Mexico back then, but these guys were all armed. Walls around the house were made taller and reinforced doors were added. We had a checklist of questions by the phones in the house detailing what questions to ask in the event of a kidnapping.
Several executives were kidnapped and/or murdered by strikers and for the next 5 years we didn't go anywhere without security.
25/26 When I was four, I was hit by a truck as I crossed the street to play with a friend. Fortunately, the truck stopped just as it hit me and I only needed stitches on my forehead.
My mom recounts that I was never the same after that. She would often catch me with a very serious look on my face and in my eye that let her know that I knew that there was something wrong with the world.
26/26 When a stray shell from a gun at Pearl Harbor firing at attacking planes struck a building next to an elementary school in our neighborhood on Dec 7, 1941. That scared the bejeebers out of me as it did everyone else in the neighborhood. Then a bunch of us kids got onto the roof of a neighborhood movie theater and watched the attack on Pearl Harbor. Scariest day of my life.
Racism is an insidious, and unfortunately prevalent, force in all of our daily lives. Maybe we're on the receiving end of it, being treated differently and losing opportunities because of others' preconceived notions.
Or maybe we're on the other side of things. Even those who aren't actively racist or discriminatory still have to process the world through the filters of the things they've been told about people who are different.