The Collegian
Friday, June 09, 2023

Who is The Tickler?

A few years ago, a friend of mine, who I'll call Steph for the sake of privacy, was fast asleep in her University of Richmond Forest Apartment. Steph and her boyfriend had fallen asleep while watching a movie together on her futon downstairs. It hadn't been long before Steph had fallen asleep when all of a sudden she began to feel a little ... tickle.

Thinking the "little tickle" was a spider or one of those other "apartment bugs" that look like cracked-out millipedes, she smacked her thigh instinctively to squash it. The only problem was, the pest wasn't a spider, or a cracked-out millipede. It was a hand. Not her own hand. Not her boyfriend's hand. But rather, the hand of a complete stranger, who was lying on the floor next to her futon.

Steph screamed and her boyfriend jolted awake, but it was too late. The man had already dashed out of the apartment and into the woods before anything could be done. However disturbing,this was just a distant memory to me. That is, until this past Saturday night when I was speaking with my friend Catherine during a party.

After exchanging the normal pleasantries one does when seeing a friend, I asked her how her weekend had been so far. To which Catherine responded, "He's back. The Tickler is back."

"What do you mean he's back?" I asked. That's when Catherine proceeded to describe how "The Tickler" had come into her apartment that morning at around 5 a.m. He touched her roommate under the knee while she was asleep facing the wall and when she stirred (not knowing whether she was dreaming or awake), he moved on to the next room, the next victim.

Catherine began to describe how her apartmentmate awoke in the morning from a strange dream where there was a rodent in her pants. Her apartmentmate opened her eyes only to discover the hand of a stranger on her inner thigh. Once "The Tickler" realized she was awake, he immediately raced out of the house.

Catherine said both her roommate and apartmentmate were too petrified at the time of the "tickle" to scream, and it wasn't until later in the morning when they both described to each other what had happened, that their worst nightmares were verified as unfortunate realities.

I don't know about all of you, but to me, this is extremely disturbing. What is equally disturbing is the fact that this incident occurred and was reported to police on Saturday and yet, none of us have been given any information regarding the incident.

OK, yeah, thanks for warning us about the three assaults that occurred this past weekend, but I would think touching people without permission in their sleep is also considered assault. So when exactly were we going to be warned that there has been a UFA intrusion? Even a casual, "Hey everybody, lock your doors at night because it's not safe," would have sufficed.

With that said, lock your doors, people. Report suspicious behavior. Consider the fact that this person may be another student. Consider the fact that this person may not be a student. Also consider taking down your sorority/club sport door decorations, girls, because you're just making yourself an easier target by leaving them up.

My point in writing this article isn't to cause fear or widespread panic on campus, but rather to remind people (as Kristy touches on in her article) that Richmond may seem like its own world, but it is not. It's wide open to the dangers of real life and having a false sense of security here is frankly, just plain naive.

I'd be lying if I said I normally don't feel 100 percent safe on this campus. But after this past weekend, I'm just not so sure anymore.

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