Being scared in certain situations outside

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There's a lane just around the corner from me, it's off a busy road but the lane is narrow and green and quiet and pretty nice to walk down. Discovered a few blackberry bushes, not quite ripe yet.

I've not had the nerve to walk down it till the other day... since getting to the refuge it seems like I'm scared to go anywhere there aren't a lot of people. Like, no people at all isn't as bad but if there is just one other person or group, I get scared.

So walking down this lane was nice because of it being lovely, but scary too. And on the way down a couple passed me, but the vibes I got off them were uber friendly. But as I was carrying on down the hill I saw a single male in the distance. Turned round and walked so fast back up, and I'm not fit / well so it was really hard work but I walked so fast and was so scared - out of proportion scared.

Turned out it wasn't even a man, rather an androgynous woman but anyway, it is bothering me a bit how scared I am..

A few times out walking I've seen a direction I'd like to follow but daren't. And a few times I've been particularly scared if I'm out and there's just one other person around, or a group, particularly if it's young men.

I realise this is a bit hypervigilant stuff. It seems really heightened since I left my ex.

Probably thinking about it I was rarely out without him for some years.

Any tips on dealing with the fear?
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I struggle with this too.
And then the times I try and be ok with it, is the time I then engage with a man who turns out to be a creep. Which then reconfirms my view.

So how to find that middle ground of risk assessing, but not being hyper vigilant?

I have no answers!
But what has helped me is that, because of covid, I now feel confident in crossing the road if a male is walking towards me or behind me. Obviously I've always been able to do that, but my stupid trauma brain always has me being compliant and having no agency, so I didn't and would jus the scared and say "oh well, if X happens, X happens". Which is a bit mad really. This walking on the other side of the road has given me confidence.
That's a sticking plaster to the problem though. And hopefully I can learn from other people's posts to your question!


Hi, I do this too. I've been doing it for years. A big part of my life is that I don't feel safe. My therapist tells me there's a difference between I don't feel safe and I am safe. I can tell myself that, but it doesn't work much yet. I also don't have any answers for you, but I wanted to let you know that you are not alone, and this is normal for what you've been through!


Totally hypervigilance! I can really relate to this. I live near a lovely forest - perfect for dog walking - but I find myself avoiding it because if I am on my own and see any man walking near me I find I am in such high alert that I end up running with total fear. I am convinced that they will walk past me, turn and grab or similar. I get so spooked, high heart rate and total panic attack. THe worst is if a runner comes up behind me and I don't hear them... as they stride past I am left almost on the floor with anxiety. I am currently trying to train myself not to keep looking behind me - it's really difficult.


It's a bit strange to realise that I had come to think that I'm not really bothered vy hypervigilance so much and find out that's because I so rarely went out alone not because Ive gotten iver it al all.

Still, I reckon it's better to be experiencing hypervigilance than still be stuck where I was, so I can kind of be grateful for it. 🙃

but my stupid trauma brain always has me being compliant and having no agency, so I didn't and would jus the scared and say "oh well, if X happens, X happens". Which is a bit mad really. This walking on the other side of the road has given me confidence.
Oh goodness I know, so frustrating!!! I can remember so many times freezing to the spot when out with my ex. I'd stay rooted to the spot for hours, it was awful.

Love that you can cross the road now, I get that it is huge actually!
but I wanted to let you know that you are not alone, and this is normal for what you've been through!
Thanks so much, sorry you relate of course.
I live near a lovely forest - perfect for dog walking - but I find myself avoiding it
Ooh that sounds lush. I want to experience more of that sort of thing in my life, but same, am frightened. I suppose I can try exposing myself to it baby step style... just go for very short walks to begin with or something.
it's really difficult.
It is.

I wonder if anything might help me feel safer....

Like I don't know, tools for dealing with hypervigilance. Will have to see what I can find.


Hi, in my experience that kind of hyper vigilance gets less the more frequently you can go out and expose yourself in public ( to the outside world). Our trauma brains play tricks on us. Ie, oh no! There's a man on his own walking towards me, he's going to attack me. It's not real but we feel like it is. It's a cognitive distortion. An Asian man walked into my meeting today and I instantly thought of when I was attacked. And I just had to say to myself, "he's not here to attack me, he's here for help"

don't get me wrong I'm not trying to invalidate anyone's prior experience but what you think might happen is highly unlikely and it's so harmful for us to go on thinking like that. It's very detrimental to us and stops us from enjoying/living our lives. Taking baby steps often is a very good idea. The more that we do things and realise that we ok then the less were in a state of hyper-vigilance and panic. 🙂


In town, it’s important to me to appear unarmed.

In the country, I carry a shillelagh I inherited from my grandfather. But any good stout stick will do. The only regular use it gets is critter control (mostly dogs). Still, it’s a comfort, around people.

In the back country I take pains to look like a clueless hiker, but am armed to my teeth.

I saw the lovely photo you posted of the lane. Reminds me very much of an 8mi stretch of trail I used to regularly walk betwixt my house and my parents. I’d love an amble up that lane. But I’d be uncomfortable doing so without my pretty little walking stick. Knowing I have the ability to protect myself in most situations? Removes the anxiety around doing so. Not sure how sticks are felt about in your area, here people dismiss them, almost entirely. So I’m not scaring/freaking out the innocent, which is important to to. But This sucker? <low whistle> Can break bones. Easily. Quickly. And from a distance. Love. It. 🥰


Heehee, I reckon being an ex military bod you might know what to do with a stick, I'm not sure I'd be very good with it.

But it might be worth looking into some kind of self defence type class... though with not being well I don't know that I could manage it necessarily.

I've an idea that if I can possibly get there I really want to be able to go on long walks, like pilgrimage long. I've a lot of obstacles in the way, but I shall see can I work on em a little at a time.


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Kickboxing is a good one, albeit it’s a bit of a problem if you’re short. (I’m 1m55, not going to go very far away in a class).

Krav maga is less intense than it sounds. Basically the approach, in a good self-defense class, would be to assess who you are and what are your capacities and replace the oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh this is really bad I’m gonna die by the most rational sequence of reflexes you can. Which is, generally, learning how to look ahead to assess if someone is a potential danger and, if they are, to have the time to go away swiftly. And, if you come in close contact (which you should avoid), how to do the "shortest way" to get rid of that person. By leaving or neutralizing right ahead. As I’m very short I’ve been told I generally can hit sharper, harder and work on speed/balance as I can’t risk a single hit.

A good instructor helps you work and hone on your physical capacities, compensate your problems (I have a slight hemiplegic negligence because of TBI) and also encourage you. Krav maga is a pure self-defense thing so it’s extremely driven towards actual shitty situations you can find. I found it really quieting as I could notice that the few things I started to learn, they could be implemented right away. They also can train you in basic attack psychology, such as an attacker is the most scared (then spookable) in the moments they’re about to decide when to attack or rob you, so if you react strongly at that moment chances are they just get away—and this risk assessment changes whether you’re in a place with guns or a place without guns. They also help you place ’lookahead’ moments for checking if you’re not about to punch your granny in the face with your elbow—or get too far and get yourself in a position that is bad or unbalanced, and fall. For some, the classes also have elements of bullshitting your opponent to distract and confuse them before they can think (most likely you come off with something totally unrelated, weird, not triggering but just weird and complicated shit so their brain can’t work and you win time), as the whole thing is quite designed for asymmetrical attacks where you are the least armed.

I have a loooot of hypervigilance also because of Brazil, but it gets over the roof every time I see someone who looks like my ex. So not so much the same configuration but I know how bad it is. And while I was scared that learning an actual combat sport would make me more aggressive because my tendency when I’m spooked is to be erratic between fear and aggression, actually the reverse happened as I know  I have actual solutions for certain types of situations. And rehearsed them. So I can be like okay, hold your horses, cross the street and you’ll be fine. Would be good to have some decent glasses so the lookahead gets better though.
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