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Who will protect me?
"The police will most likely see me as a suspect before seeing me as a person needing their protection." -Lynn

Who will protect me? I am an African-American woman, single and over the age of 55. I have a hearing disability and I live in a rural community in central Minnesota. Should I depend on the police department to protect me? Should I count on my neighbors to protect me? Can I depend on my friends or family for protection?

I know these are questions many aging, single women are asking-but they are of special concern for the growing numbers of elderly, single, women of color.

Unlike the woman in the motion pictures who simply screams (or faints) and the tall, dark and handsome man stops, turns and runs back to rescue her-I have to face the fact there is a very strong likelihood that there will be no one to rescue me. Based on the color of my skin and my experience living in a rural area, the police will most likely see me as a suspect before seeing me as a person needing their protection. I believe that I could actually be in more danger when the police are involved. I fear having to protect myself from the police just as much as protecting myself from an intruder.

In my neighborhood everyone appears friendly. However, it's clear to me their main concern is to protect themselves from me-not to protect me. I am concerned our neighbor protection program is a disaster waiting to happen, much like the Trayvon Martin incident in Florida.

One thing I know is that my protection is my responsibility. There is no knight in shining armor. Therefore, I have to think through a sensible protection plan that gives me peace of mind. I am the one who will need to make it happen.

I make conscious efforts to be aware of my surroundings at all times. I have a dog that helps me to hear things I might not hear on my own. I do not open my door to strangers. I keep my doors and windows locked. I am prepared to physically "fight" in order to defend myself against an intruder and I have an escape plan. I never give out personal information on the Internet. I never give rides to people I don't know. I listen to my inner voice, which provides insight into situations and people. If something doesn't feel right I get out fast.

And finally, I pray. I ask God to surround me with spiritual protection, to help me to keep my senses sharp and provide me with the presence of mind to know when to act.

Editor's Note: Lynn requested that we not use her last name. She lives in central Minnesota.

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