The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
With covid restrictions now being virtually withdrawn, there is an almost electric energy spreading amongst University students. Yet, alongside the excitement of night life pushing us back to ‘normality,’ with the re-opening of clubs brings the re-opening of a conversation that should never be closed. The harassment and assault of women worldwide will inevitably continue – perhaps even at an exonerated level.
The disappearance of Gabby Petito -a 22 year-old woman from Florida – is what prompted my desire to write this, and further contextualise what happened to her in conjunction with the resurrection of nightlife. Petito was well known for her TikTok account Van Life, a profile shared with her fiancé Brian Laundrie in which they travelled in their renovated van. The holiday fell short, however, when Laundrie left Grand Teto National Park without his partner. Returning home in his van, now a current ‘person of interest,’ Laundrie refused to acknowledge his fiancé’s family let alone discuss any matters with the police. One can only observe Laundrie’s peculiar choice of action; he has now been announced missing, and Petito’s body has been found in the very state she first disappeared. With all this information in mind, natural assumptions have been made, and the notion that these situations can happen to anyone (specifically women) ignites further fear in all young women.
I include myself in that fear. Yet this time, I noticed a shift in my reaction to this event when discussing it with a friend. Another woman going missing, being killed, potentially by a loved one, frightened me of course, but my initial emotional experience was that of feeling unsurprised. I am no longer shocked. Responding this way, I can only imply that other women have also had their astonishment eroded. More than ever, we need to make sure this numb reaction does not convert into acceptance.
If you are reading this, then I am sure I do not need to reiterate the rather ignorant ‘top tips.’ You know to not walk home alone. You will call a friend if you have to. Remember that you are not the problem. On nights out, check on your female peers. Hold your male peers accountable. However, please do not stop having these conversations. We have seen multiple instances of sexual assault, rape, and murder happen in our own University town. University students- do not let the excitement of TP and Unit 1 suffocate the safety of our women.
Below is some information about Urban Angels Exeter, a group which ‘supports the safety of women, non-binary and gender fluid people in Exeter.’
Facebook- Urban Angels Exeter