|Me, on a particularly gruelling travel day.|
As a traveller you can get a bit complacent, so when I arrived here early evening I walked the ten minute walk from the bus stop to my hotel, dumped my things, tied up my hair and left for a restaurant that had been recommended to me. I had my handbag with me, it’s a Travelon anti-theft bag, and since I was just going out for food I’d not bothered taking out my flight ticket or passport. They were all securely on the inside of my locked zip compartment at the front of my bag. My purse, with my credit and debit card, as well as my driver’s license and EHIC as well as my phone were also in my bag, but in the main lockable compartment. The bag is one of those cross body things, with a slash-proof strap, and I’ve had it a couple of years now and always use it when I travel.
All was going well; the restaurant was busy so I was there a couple of hours. The servers were really interested in why I was here alone, and how someone from England ended up with a boyfriend in Lapland- everyone is interested in that story. They served me way too many carbs- because pizza is the answer to missing your (now ex) boyfriend like crazy (that and ice cream and watching the saddest movie you can find).
The restaurant is really close to the hotel I am staying, too; literally a set of steps makes the walk about two minutes long. However, I needed an ATM and decided that, since it was light and fairly early, I’d get some cash out at the Nordea I had spotted down the road. I hadn’t even got across the road when a man approached me asking for money. I ignored him, which apparently was the wrong thing to do.
And this is where things started to go pear shaped.
I decided to keep walking towards the main street instead of going into the bank. The man followed, and everything happened pretty quickly. He grabbed hold of me, and I remember his hands grabbing my shoulders tightly and at the same time I remember him pushing me and attempting to grab my bag. I stumbled but didn’t fall and, altho it felt really quick and like a life time all at once, a police car was pulling around the corner & luckily saw what was going on. They stopped, one grabbed the man, and the other grabbed me.
They asked if I would give a statement, and at first I said no. It was pretty late, and I just wanted to go home. I was pretty shaken up, and I didn’t want to get in a car with a man who had just attempted to hurt me. The officer told me another car was coming to pick the man up and that I could stay with him, and they would take me to the station to make a statement and back to the hotel once I was finished.
It didn’t really hit me what happened until I got to the police station. What if he wasn’t going for my handbag, what if he was just out to hurt me? I didn’t rationalise very well, and was obviously shaken. The officer’s taking my statement were great, they told me the man was known to the police and he’d been involved in these sorts of things before and they needed people to give statements so they could prosecute him.
It was almost 2am by the time the officer dropped me to my hotel. It was the same officer who had talked me into giving the statement right at the beginning. He walked me right to the door of my room, and I felt really safe in his hands. He told me to contact someone so I would feel less alone, but my phone hadn’t been picking up signal (cheers, EE) and the WiFi was crap where I was staying so I e-mailed my boyfriend in a state of shock-- I’m pretty sure the first one didn’t make any sense—and slept, and slept. Plus, the last thing I wanted to do was worry my parents when I still had another night in this city.
The following morning I was a bit scared to go out. I knew he wouldn’t be released, at least not whilst I was here, but it didn’t change the fact that I was scared. I was so lucky that the police car turned around the corner as it was happening. I don’t know if I would have lost my handbag with EVERYTHING in it and been trapped in Norway without money, or a passport, or if something worse would have happened to me. That’s the thing, worse things DO and HAVE happened to other people. I was so lucky, and I never ever thought it would be me in that position.
Since writing this, I have been in contact with the Norwegian authorities who looked after me so well that night. The man who attacked me was not Norwegian; he'd been travelling through Norway and had attacked many people at random. Mostly people walking alone, about their business at night time. I was just unlucky. He has been prosecuted for what happened to me, and the other's he attacked before.