The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Trigger Warning: This article discusses a real life experience of sexual assault. Names and identifying features have been changed to protect the individual. Please read ahead at your own discretion.
Back in March this year, I wrote an article about sexual harassment following the disappearance of Sarah Everard, but unfortunately, things have not changed. With the recent news of Sabina Nessa and more news surrounding Sarah Everard’s murder, women still do not feel safe; if anything, we feel warier. Recently I had a young lady reach out to me after an encounter she endured and upon her request I am publishing her story to show our readers the harsh reality many women face on a day to day basis.
“Recently, I moved cities for work, and generally, I feel safe walking alone, even at night in the city I live in, which is rare for big cities, compared to how I felt walking alone back home. However, I have felt more wary lately and sometimes scared because I know I still must be cautious.
“I was afraid somebody was going to follow me home in the dark.”Anonymous
For example, recently I went out with my friends in the city centre, and I got the train home at about 11 pm. As I was sitting down, I noticed that I was the only girl on the train, making me feel paranoid and slightly anxious. Even though nothing happened, I was afraid someone would have taken advantage of the fact I was the only woman I was alone. This paranoia turned into a slight panic because the man sitting next to me had his face mask down and kept creepily staring at me while licking his lips. I saw his reflection in the window, and he seemed slightly drunk, which I thought was unusual for a Wednesday night. I tried calling and texting my friends to keep me company, but nobody seemed to be awake at that hour, which made me feel even more anxious. As I walked home in the dark, I held my keys between my fingers with a tiny tear in my eye. I was afraid that somebody was going to follow me home in the dark. Luckily, I made it home safe, and sound and I was probably overthinking all the worst possible scenarios in my head.”
While the woman got home safely, the fact that she had to journey home filled with such anxiety is not something we should be so quick to accept in our society. Women shouldn’t have to live in fear constantly, and we shouldn’t have to take all these precautions. We shouldn’t have to think about our journeys home, what we are wearing or what we are doing. And the sad thing is, this happens more often you think, however serious you might think the situation might be. We should be able to live safely and freely.
If someone you know feels scared or opens about their experiences with sexual harassment, here are some tips on how you can support them:
- Be there and listen.
- Offer them reassurance.
- Be patient with them.
- Respect their privacy.
Things you can say:
- “I’m glad that you told me.”
- “I’m sorry that this happened.”
- “I believe in you.”
- “How can I help you?”
- “I’ll support your choices.”
- “You are not alone.”
- “This is not your fault.”