As a Woman, What do you do to Keep Safe?

*TW: The content of this article, including the mentionings of violence against women and girls, may be triggering for readers.*

 

Discussions surrounding violence against women and girls have been circulating the internet in a much larger quantity after the recent, awful abduction and killing of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman of South London. But as we know, just because a topic may be more apparent in the media does not mean it was less relevant or real before (much like the Black Lives Matter movement). Every day, millions of women and girls feel afraid for their own safety, whether walking alone at night or within the confines of their own homes. 

To demonstrate the extent to which a woman’s safety consumes their everyday actions, I asked young women what they feel they must do to try and ensure their safety. The responses I received are relatable and many are similar. I’ve decided to include each response to again demonstrate the thoughts that run through the minds of countless women on an average day. This article took me a mere hour to put together from start to finish not only because those who I asked were eager to answer, but also because it took them no time at all to think about what to say. It is second nature.

 

Here is how they responded: 

“I’ve stopped going on runs by myself in my safe bubble-of-a-hometown after receiving too much harassment by people driving by. Right before stopping I used to yell back or make a funny face so they knew that I knew what they were doing … but eventually I became afraid that this would provoke them.”

“I cross the street to avoid darker areas, wooded areas, side streets, or groups of men. Even in broad daylight.”

“During the day I’ve been walking outside with my mask on, even if I don’t have to, so no one can see my face.”

“If I walk at night (generally after 10 pm) and I’m alone I bring my Birdie alarm.”

“If I meet up with a guy [I met through a dating app] I do it in a public space.”

“I never drink an alcoholic drink at a bar that a guy’s given to me and I haven’t seen where he got it from.”

“I avoid walking through parks at night.”

“I share my location with my roommates at all times.”

“While I’m walking I check behind me every minute or two. My peripheral vision is my best friend.”

“I don’t walk home from a bar/drinks alone.”

“I take note of what the people around me look like in hopes to notice if someone is following me.”

“I lock my car immediately after getting in.”

“I keep a personal safety alarm.”

“I double check my surroundings before I approach my apartment.”

“I duck into a shop if I feel I’m being followed. Good thing I did that one time … because I was.”

“I never leave my drink unattended.”

“I put my house keys between my knuckles when walking alone.”

“I share my location with family/friends.”

“Sometimes when it’s really dark and no one is around I sprint down the street.”

Girl sad at night Photo by Garon Piceli from Pexels

“I only go on runs/walks during the day.”

“I shut my curtains when it’s dark out of fear of being watched.”

“I pay for taxis instead of walking places after dark.”

“I imagine myself in scenarios to plan out how I would react if someone grabbed me. But I know I wouldn’t react in the way I imagine.”

“I always check if the location of my hotel/accommodation in a foreign city is safe.”

“I always look down when encountering a man at night time.”

“If it’s dark I barely walk alone (even if it’s a 5 minute walk, I either get a cab or walk with someone).”

“I’m on a phone call with someone when walking alone at night.”

“I wear headphones but always with low volume to be aware of what happens around me.”

“I walk fast so I get home sooner and accelerate whenever I encounter a man at night.”

“I share my location with friends/family and have them actively check until I’m safe at home.”

“I always put bags next to me on public transport and I always have one headphone out in case someone approaches me.”

“Whenever I go outside I’m on the phone with someone so they know where I am.”

“On Whatsapp, I choose to share my live location with someone for 8 hours instead of 1 so in case something happens to me they have more time to search according to my phone’s location.”

“When a man at the grocery store stares at me I either race to leave or take laps through the aisles until he leaves the store. I can’t help but look behind me my whole way home.”

“If I have to walk home alone in the dark I keep my personal safety alarm from Birdie in a ready position to be pulled in the event I need to.”

“I thought of strange things I could tell someone if they took me, like that I have an easily transmittable disease or something. What could scare off an abductor?”

“I have my keys in my hand at all times.”

“When I walk alone in an eerie area or at night and happen to have my umbrella with me, I lengthen the handle and carry it like a baton, as if I could defend myself with it.”

“I tell my friends when I’ve arrived somewhere safely.”

“I only walk in well-lit areas so sometimes I have to take longer routes.”

“I constantly avoid eye contact with men. Sometimes I try to look angry in hopes that they wouldn’t want to bother me.”

“I find it hard not to feel consumed with my surroundings and the thought that I might not be safe.”

 

Let that sink in. 

And it is not only women and girls whose consciousness’ flood with similar thoughts and decisions. Countless others of all genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, etc. are faced with preserving their safety each day.

Watch out for yourself and others. Don’t let us walk through this alone. 

Mental Health Hub Hero Rebecca Hoskins / Her Campus Media

 

*Those in England and Wales please consider filling out this public survey made available by the Home Office regarding Violence Against Women and Girls to “[collect] information on the public's views about violence and crimes that predominantly affect women and girls. This information will be used to help the Home Office write a new strategy about how we tackle these types of crimes.”*

*For anyone interested in purchasing a personal safety alarm, Birdie is the alarm that I and 5 of my friends carry daily. This article is not sponsored by Birdie.*