Fort Sanders.

It just sounds like an eerie name if you ask me, yet many people make the choice to walk home late at night alone through this dark place. We often hear the rare horror stories of someone getting attacked, but it has become such a common occurrence that many people almost brush it off.

Four of my friends have been attacked in the Fort, and at one point I was in danger even with a large group of guys around me. All of the stories I have heard have been traumatic.

For some reason, I still find myself walking home alone for various reasons instead of waiting the 15 minutes for the T.

I guess I had never really taken the time to think about how life-altering an attack can be in the Fort, and I think we all often think that something severe will never happen to one of us. At least I know I did.

This Monday night, an event known as "PDM" occurred among the students of the University of Tennessee. In my mind – and I am sure the mind of others – nothing bad could happen on this night because so many people would be out and about.

Along with the mass amount of people, freshmen who do not know their way around yet were seeking help to safely stumble their way home after a long night.

I found myself walking home alone yet again, arriving safely at home.

To my dismay, one of my friends did not.

At approximately midnight, in the peak of PDM madness, a woman who shall remain anonymous walked out of a house on Clinch Avenue, very close to the strip.

Chipotle was in clear sight and there was decent lighting around the area.

She was leaving a party to return home with one of her friends who was already in the car.

On her way out to the car, she felt a weird notion. In the blink of an eye, 10 to 15 men in all-white shirts surrounded her, circling as if she were a piece of meat.

They quickly began yelling vulgar words at her, saying things like, "we are going to rape you." Not only was she afraid of what would happen to her; what was said was also defiling.

Hysterical, as anyone would be, she tried to make a get-away and somehow broke through the circle of men. She sprinted into her friend's car, where her companion had already called the cops. Police showed up and attempted to work out the situation at hand.

After dealing with all the details, my traumatized but unharmed friend was safely returned home.

She was not being dumb by any means; she was merely walking to her car.

The danger, however, lies in those who surround the Fort and what their goals may be.

As easy as it is to just walk home alone and not wait for the T, we have to be careful young adults. Whether returning from a party, the library or just a friend's house, women and men alike face an ever-present risk of being mugged, attacked or raped in the Fort.

I never thought anything would happen to any of my friends or I, and luckily nothing extremely serious actually occurred.

But if she had not gotten away, it could have been a devastating experience.

As a student body, I believe we should be more aware of our surroundings as well as more cautious when making the choice to walk home alone. As frustrating as the bus system can be sometimes, I think our best bet is to wait it out or walk in groups to prevent further attacks. I find the wait to be well worth it when I think of the end result.

For a Fort, our neighborhood is simply not as safe as we may like to think.

Annie Blackwood is a junior in communications. She can be reached at ablackwo@utk.edu.