Sometimes frightening things can happen in even the safest seeming of places. Here, people share the most terrifying thing that’s ever happened to them in a well-lit and populated place.
1. Well, that escalated quickly.
An addict wanted money from me down town, but I literally had nothing but my clothes on me. So I said sorry man, all out.
Dude lumbers towards me slowly, pushes me over, and stab me in the thigh with a Swiss Army knife.
I booked it to the hospital for stitches. Didn’t hurt until I actually looked at it. Adrenaline didn’t stop pumping for a very long time.
2. Nuh-uh, not my kids.
I was taking my kids for a walk in the park near our apartment once when a guy and a woman came out of the tree line suddenly and the guy said to give him my wallet and anything else in my pockets. He had some weird screwdriver / knife thing and I pushed my daughter, my eldest child, behind me. I was going to do the same for my son but the woman grabbed his other arm. My heart felt like it was going to explode.
For some reason, I suddenly forgot about self preservation and jumped forwards and broke the woman’s nose. I felt a sharp pain under my ribs and looked to see that the man had just shanked me, but at this point two other guys who had been jogging were running up and shouting (continued).
The police that patrolled the park showed up not long after that. I was sitting and trying not to bleed to death, the man had ran off and his screwdriver was still in me. The woman was on the ground crying and shouting because I had also knocked the top front of her teeth loose / out. The two joggers were originally asking the woman if I was the assaulter but the situation cleared up soon. I got taken to the hospital and questioned about the incident.
They tried to sue me but it was thrown out and she was sentenced for attempted kidnapping.
I had a tube in my chest for two weeks after my surgery to remove the shank, but it all cleared up after that. Just glad my kids are safe.
3. Her intuition was right.
A couple of years ago I was jogging in the center of my town as usual, when I realized I was being followed by some guy I had never seen.
He kept trying to talk to me, and at some point he grabbed me from behind and went full molester on me. I shook free then started screaming, knocking on the hood of a car passing by. He ran away, never to be found.
I couldn’t jog for over a year.
4. Wow, that was a close call.
It was well lit and populated as it was my workplace. I was a pourer in a foundry at the time. Due to a mistake in the metal, it had to be put back into the furnace instead of being poured, a job that is done by using a crane to take the ladle (big bucket full of molten metal) back to the furnace. The ladle is then manually rolled over and the metal poured back into the furnace.
I was the lucky guy to roll it in, and whilst rolling it the crane driver made a mistake and moved the ladle out of position. This resulted in a wave of 1600C (~3000f) metal flying toward me like water off a spoon in the sink. Due to the light coming from the molten metal I couldn’t gage the depth of the wave at the time, but looked down to see nothing but orange light surrounding me from the waist up. This lasted a moment at most, but in that moment every possible injury that could come from that crossed my mind.
No injury came of that, like a spoon in the sink the wave was very thin and my gear was good enough. But I was genuinely terrified then.
5. Thanks for the “help.”
When I was twelve years old I was beaten up in a crowded bus station at rush hour by a boy several years older than me for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
It was a completely unprovoked attack and I was trapped against a one-way door. The adults standing around waiting for their buses to go home from work did absolutely nothing to help me or to stop me from being attacked.
6. Why do people do these things?
A few years ago I was at a bowling center on a busy day. When we were about to leave we heard a big bang.
A man had thrown the heaviest bowling ball on a woman’s head. Later I read that he did it on purpose and the women had severe brain damage. And was lucky to be alive. The man got sentenced to 18 months in prison.
7. To call this an “overreaction” is an understatement.
My dog and I are stopped at a crosswalk and he barks and scares this woman. As soon as he barked the walk dude came up to cross but the lady started yelling about my needing to control my dog and she pulled out a taser. I’m just trying to get across the street and she starts making even a bigger scene saying how she’s going to shock me.
My dog is barking at the crazy lady we are standing in the street now, at a busy intersection and I thought to my self I’m about to get tased in front of all these people.
8. We always imagine how we might react in these situations…
A guy felt me up on an extremely crowded (peak hour) bus.
I totally froze.
Couldn’t bring myself to move a muscle as his hand slid up the bare skin of my inner thigh (I was wearing a skirt).
It was an odd experience. I never expected myself to react like that. I always imagined that if something like that happened I’d shove them off or call them out or something,
But I didn’t.
I didn’t do anything.
9. What was his problem?
I’m not sure it was the most terrifying thing that happened to me, but it was the most terrifying thing that happened to me at that point in my life.
I was about 11, in Cape Town – South Africa, visiting family.
My parents were walking in front of me, and I was walking with my little cousin directly behind them. We were in a shopping mall.
Anyway, I think my parents had stopped to get some money out of an ATM, and my and my cousin were just being silly, as you do at that age.
This guy, maybe in his mid-20s sat across from us on a bench, pointed at us, then my parents, and then dragged his finger along his neck. He then pulled open his jacket, and pulled a gun out of a pocket.
I don’t know if that was a real gun, and I didn’t care to find out. I told my parents immediately, and we kind of circulated the security personnel before eventually leaving.
10. Well, at least he got the bike back.
I got jumped midday, put in a headlock while groups of people looked on while I was screaming help (I was 13), and while this was going on a guy picked up my bike and took off with it. All on my city’s public square(literally the center of town). Now I carry a knife wherever I go. Got the bike back though!
11. Thank goodness he was okay.
Almost drowned as a 6-year-old in a populated adult pool. I was floundering for what felt like a minute, quickly losing breath and swallowing water. No around me heard my gargled cries. No one helped. Thank god my mother pulled me out before it was too late.
And that’s how I developed my fear of water.
12. Amazing how one small detail can save your life.
I was working a construction job a while back and I was told to wait on the ground floor for someone. I bent down to retie my boots and a pallet full of mixing cement comes crashing down where I was just standing. I clearly remember the foreman saying I would have been “stone cold dead” if my shoes were tied. Broad daylight, nobody reported the accident (OSHA was different back then). If anyone has seen the movie Grand Canyon, you’ll know how I felt.
13. When they’re so overly friendly that you know something’s wrong…
Many years ago, I was just about to walk into the restaurant where I was the assistant manager, when I was approached by this huge guy who was all smiles and generally gave across this body language of being friendly, is a “sorry but I need to ask you something” kinda way.
Next thing I knew, he was screaming at me about some friend I hadn’t seen in a while. Turns out my friend had stolen some weed off this dodgy guy, and my name had come up for some reason. Right there in the middle of a busy road in a busy city, he pulled out a Stanley Knife and told me he was going to cut my throat with it if I didn’t give him his 350 right there. I still don’t remember exactly what I said to him but he left, told me he was going to kill me if he ever saw me again and I went into work.
14. He definitely didn’t want to steal his $10.
I was 10 or maybe 12 years old. My mom took me to the mall so she could go to the Target. There was a baseball card/comic book store right next to the Target and while she shopped I got to go look at the collectibles. While I was looking at the cards in the case, a guy came in. He looked around for a minute, then approached me and asked if I liked baseball cards. I said that I did and he said he had a Babe Ruth card in his van and asked if I would like to see it.
We were right at the counter and the clerk was right there, but I got a real creepy vibe from this guy. I said no and left the store to go back to Target and find my mom.
I looked behind me as I walked into Target and, sure enough, he was following me. I was starting to get a little scared, so I turned into the women’s underwear aisle, thinking he wouldn’t follow me. He kept after me until I finally found my mom. I never told her about it because I didn’t want to scare her. At the time I thought maybe he wanted to steal my $10 but now I’m pretty sure he wanted more than $10.
15. Truly, though. What if?
Sixteen, female fresh out from school for the day. Take bus home and am standing next to a kid who felt like wearing all red. Car pulls up and a guy in the backseat has a handgun. Points it at the kid in the red but I knew more or less everyone at the bus stop was going to get shot because some dumbass wanted to wear gang-affiliated colors. Light turns green and the driver goes and I’m left reeling with the whole “what if” scenarios for a few days.
16. “Folks, brace for impact.”
I guess this qualifies… thunderstorm downdraft on a fully laden plane. Your seatbelt is done up, but there’s fresh air between your butt & the seat as the plane drops.
17. Surrounded by people and yet you can’t say a thing.
In Rio I was robbed at gunpoint on a crowded street in broad daylight. The guy just put the gun to my back and walked with me and said,”Give me your money or your life.” My heart hasn’t ever beaten faster..
18. He thought he was just trying to pay him a compliment.
I was on a 300-mile ride on my motorcycle when I stopped for gas at a sketchy gas station. While I’m stopped this homeless guy in a puffy ratty fur jacket and a Flava Flav style Viking hat rides up on his bicycle with a milk crate for a basket and a homemade trailer. He rings the bell on his handle bar and tells me I have a nice bike as I’m walking in to pay. I say, “Thanks, you too bud” and he charges at me on foot and pushes me, from behind, hard and says “No man, I said you have a niiiiiiiiceeeeeeee biiiiiiiiiikkkeee.”
Im freaking out now though I’m not a small dude. So I push this guy to the ground and yell for him to back off and he gets up, adjusts his hat and says, “This is what you wear when you wanna sing Immigrant Song by Led Zepplin….. AHHHHHHH-AHH-AHHHHHHHHHHHH-AHHHHHHH!!!!!” then he runs to his bike like a mad man and rides off. Most terrifying and hilarious thing to ever happen to me.
19. His intuition was right.
When I was really young, a guy stopped me when I was leaving school and asked if I liked PlayStation and Nintendo. I told him I did, and that I really liked final fantasy and he said, “What a coincidence, I have that with a TV in my van. Wanna come play?”
I told him I had to ask my mom first, and to stay here. I ran home and called my mom to ask, and she told me to lock the door, get in the basement, and don’t open the door for anyone. She explained what was happening to me when she got home and once I knew, I was pretty freaked out.
20. I wish they’d caught him.
I’m a 20-something lady. I was heading home from the gym (tired) dressed elegantly (on my way from work) along a large, well-lit street. About a block from my house, a man first tried to catch my attention and then to grab me and pull towards the bushes on one side of the sidewalk, having already partly removed his pants.
I screamed bloody murder and ran home. After calling the police and describing the attacker, they asked what I was wearing. I was going to get mad, but it turned out he matched the description of a local pedophile suspect that preys on young girls from the nearby school. I was wearing a rather girly navy blue skirt with a white shirt that day.
He was never arrested.
21. There are other ways to indulge your foot fetish.
I was 18 or 19 and picking up a prescription at the pharmacy. While I was waiting in line, a man (who I guess was waiting in line as well) started taking pictures of my feet with his cell phone. He wasn’t even trying to be subtle, just kind of bent over and aimed his phone at my feet. I moved a few feet away and he just followed me.
The pharmacist saw the whole thing and mouthed, “Do you know him?” I shook my head with my eyes wide, grabbed my prescription and bolted away from the counter. I hid in the store until I saw him leave and drive off because I was afraid he might follow me.
Maybe not terrifying, but definitely unnerving and creepy. Still creeps me out thinking about it.
22. He chose the wrong day.
As I was walking home from work along West Broadway (in lower Manhattan) a man grabbed me. I was on my last nerve that day so instead of being scared or submitting I went full Rambo on him, yelling and smacking him with my purse. I was taking no crap from anyone that day, and he turned and ran.
23. That guy definitely wasn’t his friend.
I was in a local swimming pool and a friend mentioned how he thought I could fit into the storage locker. I jumped in and he locked it behind me. I learned a few things that day.
1) I can indeed fit into some storage lockers.
2) This person was not my friend.
3) Strangers won’t help you if your friend says you are fine even if you are crying for help.
4) Putting the vents at the bottom of a locker is really dumb.
24. She found a way out.
A guy tried to drag me to his room when I was sick and confused at a con. Pulled me right through the lobby.
The only reason I didn’t end up in his room is because I couldn’t think of how to get away, so I just sat right down in the middle of the lobby and he couldn’t pick me back up again. No one helped.
My friends came back from pulling the car around and found me sitting there. Thankfully they helped me into the car and that was that.
25. The bystander effect is real…
One morning I was sitting in a caf, waiting for a friend. At the table next to me, there was a Chinese exchange student, who obviously just came to the city and didn’t speak our language. Some guy walked up to her, sat next to her, groped her and said very nasty sexual things. I said “Hey that’s not cool, I don’t think that you are welcome and this place anymore, get out of here.” Then he got to me, tried to shove me and said, “What do you want from me, let’s get out, I will beat you up, you jerk.” It got a bit louder but finally he went out.
Thing is, the caf was half full, it was 10 AM and no one cared what happened to that girl or me. And no one even thought of calling the police. Pretty crappy of these people.
26. Sometimes, fear can be justified.
Was in Chicago last year for a conference and brought my friend who was slightly terrified of urban areas (keep in mind, we are from rural Iowa).
Had to use the subway to get to the conference when suddenly a fight broke out in the car in front of us. They moved the fight throughout most of the train and started to flash guns at one point in our car.
Luckily for us, a brave young fellow helped break it up and no one was seriously injured.
27. It’s all fun and games until…
When I was little, I used to play “the hi game,” where you would wave to strangers as you drove by. When with a group of friends, you’d try to get the most people to wave hi back to you.
One time, my mom stopped to buy some flowers, and had left my friends and I in the car. For some reason one of my friends decided to keep playing the game while we were parked (which is obviously against the rules, but this isn’t the time for technicalities). So she waves to this dude and he comes over, and the very first thing he says is
“So, uh… Where’s your mom?”
To me as a kid, something about the way he said it was terrifying. We all thought we were done. Turns out he was just concerned, and somehow ended up tracking my mom down. But those few moments immediately after he said that were terrifying.
28. Sometimes the best thing to do is scream.
I was followed. It wasn’t super populated where he saw me, but it was midday (the edges of the city centre), and we definitely weren’t the only people around. This guy started talking to me and getting too close, telling me that I was very beautiful and asking how old I was (a very young looking 18 – I told him I was 16, I think, in the hope that he would think that was creepy and go away. This guy was nearly middle aged). It was just kind of usual-creepy to start with, until it became obvious that he was following me beyond the point of just being a weird guy making conversation with a passerby (continued).
I told him I had to go, and flat out walked into traffic to get away from him, and he literally yelled “I’m following you!” after me, and ran up to me once the cars had passed.
Eventually I caught up with a bigger crowd of people, refusing to speak to him anymore. He was stupid enough to try and take hold of me. I yelled, and people turned around, so he ended up running away.
29. That could have ended in disaster.
As a young teenager, in the early 90s I went to a slightly low-rent amusement park on a school trip. They had some rides, nothing like the huge ones at premium parks, but there was a reasonable looking rollercoaster – with a full loop and a corkscrew-style part (I’m sure there’s a bunch of terminology I don’t know about rides, so don’t mind me).
My group of friends all decided to give it a try. I’d never been on one, so while I was a bit scared, it looked pretty cool, so why not? Our group all get on at the same time, talking and BS’ing each other in the way excited kids do.
The cars start moving backwards up a slope. Once it gets to near the top, the cars would release and go down the track. We’re still moving up the slope and I look across at my friend and his restraint is down. Mine isn’t. Oh crap (continued).
I panic naturally. We must be over a hundred feet up, on a 45′ slope. There’s nothing I can do to get off and it can’t be too long until the cars will drop. I grab my restraint and pull it down across my chest. I think it locks into place, but now the cars drop.
I can’t do a thing except hold on. The speed pins me into my seat, and while I don’t think I’d come out in the corkscrew part, here comes the loop. As I pass the top of the loop I feel the cars slow just a little. My knuckles must have been transparent, they were gripping the edge of my seat so hard in a vain attempt to hold my upside-down self in the seat…
We exit the loop and go up another slope to then reverse the track direction. As it slows I can just about pry my hands from the seat to check my restraint and it felt secure. Naturally I didn’t quite trust it and I gripped my seat all the way back through the course.
I got off the ride in a daze and never said a thing about it.
30. “I feel something on my back…”
Walking back from lunch to my office. I work in a urban area but it usually is safe to walk. From the corner of my eye I thought I saw someone following me. Didn’t think too much about it but picked up my pace a little. I had to stop at the crosswalk and the person behind me catches up and I feel something on my back and he tells me to make a left turn. I turn into the next street and he asks me for all the money in my wallet. I gave it to him and he bolted past me. It had to be no later than 1:00 PM and I got mugged right in broad daylight.
31. “The man with yucky eyes”….yikes.
When I was 3, someone tried to kidnap me from a shopping centre. I had been standing next to my mum when some random guy grabbed me by the wrist and started making a fast move to the exit. Even nearly 30 years later I can still remember this vividly, from what he looked like to being too scared to say anything as I was being led out whilst frantically trying to look for my mum. Luckily enough mum had spotted me and screamed as we we’re next to the exit and he let me go and ran out. I had nightmares about the man with the yucky eyes for years after this.
32. How serious do things need to get for someone to get involved?
I use to take those classes at a church in the evening. I was put ahead into an older class (I believe I was 8, and most of them were pre-teens or early teens). This one guy (14 or 15) kept offering me money to do [a sexual favor] for him, which at the time I had no idea what that was. A bunch of the other girls would always swarm me when he was nearby and tell me to ignore him, not take the money, etc. He was known as a trouble maker.
I asked my parents what a [sexual favor] was, so they found out, and made a complaint. His family gave a lot of money to that church so nothing happened to him.
Then I got to church early and was just roaming around. He was there and got physical with me. I didn’t really understand at the time, but now I realize he was likely trying to assault me. I called out for others to help but absolutely no one did. A few adults would stop and watch, but then they’d keep walking. Thankfully my older sister ran into us and put a stop to everything so ultimately nothing happened. He got kicked out after that.
I understand not getting involved, but no one even called the cops.
33. There can definitely be power in numbers.
When I was living in Paris, I was attacked in the Bastille metro station during the early evening, while in a group of 5-6 girls.
This guy followed us off the train and onto an escalator, and placed himself right behind my friend. She went around me farther up the escalator to get away from him. He tried to follow her. Being fluent in French, I put my arm out to block him and told him to leave her alone.
He then grabbed my arm so hard that I later had fingerprint bruises. And then he just stared at me. It was terrifying. I was telling him to get off and leave me alone, all while trying to pry his fingers off me, and there was just no emotion or reaction on his face.
Luckily then, my friend just above me turns and sees this, and full on Falcon kicks this guy right on the chest! He fell back a bit, but caught himself, then grabbed her by her ponytail and punched her in the face.
By this point, we’re finally at the top of the escalator (yes, this all transpired in the duration of an escalator ride) and a group of men chased the guy off.