Kelli BordeauxIf you haven't heard of Kelli Bordeaux yet, get ready. The 23-year-old US Army soldier has been missing for the past two weeks, and the last person to see her alive is a registered sex offender who claims he gave her a ride home from a North Carolina bar ... only to have her get out of the car early to walk the rest of the way. Somewhere between that car and her place near Fort Bragg, a woman trained by our military to defend our country went missing.

And that, right there, sums up why women across the nation are still afraid to walk alone in parking lots, alleys, and open streets at night. Kelli Bordeaux was young, fit, strong, and more to the point, trained by none other than the experts at the US Army in defending herself. And it looks like someone managed to abduct her.

Who is responsible, what might have happened when Bordeaux left the Froggy Bottoms Bar in Fayetteville are both still up in the air. That sex offender, a guy named Nicholas Holbert, has been arrested for not properly registering. But police say he's not a suspect. And Bordeaux's husband, Michael, has come forward to try to put to rest rumors that they were having marital issues. Although he hadn't seen his wife in 10 days (prior to her disappearance), he says he was just out of town visiting his dad in Florida.

OK. Fine.

But honestly? It doesn't really matter how Kelli Bordeaux disappeared. What matters is that it happened at all. It's sad and tragic for her family, and it's absolutely terrifying for us regular Janes who don't have quite the same means to defend ourselves against an unknown attacker but would like to live normal lives, going out for girls' night without fearing for our safety because some jerk thinks he can do what he wants with us.

I'm loath to buy into the "women are the weaker sex" stereotype, but the fact is, size matters. It's hard to be 5'4" and 138 pounds and fight off a person who is 6'1" and 220. In that sense, nature puts women at a disadvantage. Overall, statistics show men are more likely than women to be victims of violent crime. But the exceptions are terrifying: women are more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault then men, and 9 out of 10 women murdered were killed by a man.

So what's our option? Self defense classes. Being aware of our surroundings. Being "smart" about stranger danger. We hold our keys between our fingers when we walk in dark parking lots. We ask for a male escort to our car. We travel in packs of women that our male counterparts scoff at (yes, it's a lot like high school when all the girls went to the bathroom, no it's not nearly as fun).

We don't know how "smart" Kelli Bordeaux was ... after all, she ended up in a car with a sex offender. But we do know she was better prepared than the average woman to deal with an attack thanks to the training of our military. And she's still missing.

I'll be holding out hope that she's found alive and well because I never want to hear that someone was hurt. But a selfish part of me is hoping she's found alive and well because it will ease that fear of being a woman alone, at night, just a bit.

How has this missing soldier's story hit you?

 

Image via Fayetteville Police Department