This past week, I think it’s safe to say that we have all been shocked to the core by the horrific murder of Sarah Everard. In the same way that the killing of George Floyd provoked a public conversation as well as outpouring of emotion and demonstrations on the streets to say that #BlackLivesMatter – we are seeing a similar response here as women talk about their personal experiences in regards to safety issues.
Who was Sarah Everard?
Sarah Everard was a 33 year old Durham University graduate originally from York who moved to London to pursue a career in Marketing. Sarah vanished while walking from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, to her home in Brixton on the 3rd of March 2021.
Her family said her disappearance was completely out of character and her boyfriend reported her missing the following day after she failed to meet him.
The case of Ms Everard has caused many to protest nationwide and many women to come out to speak about personal experiences. We cannot point the finger at all men – it’s chilling that there are some very sick minded individuals roaming our earth. Why do some men think that it’s ok to catcall? To sound their horn? To make derogatory comments, to wolf whistle?
The answer is, it’s not okay for men to do this.
97% of women aged between aged 18 – 24 have been sexually harassed according to a new poll from YouGov. What’s more concerning is that women don’t even feel safe to walk the streets without looking over their shoulder.
There have been times where I have been scared to wear headphones and listen to music. I felt that I always need to listen and observe everything around me to protect myself. I think in my own mind what I would do and play out scenarios in my head how I would respond should anything bad happen, but why should I have to feel this way?
Why should anyone have to feel this way? And the answer is that we shouldn’t, but it’s just something that we have had to accept and become a custom to as our streets become less safe each year.
My own stalker
There have been times where I have had to get my phone out and make a call to my partner because I feel I am being followed. Sometimes you just get a gut instinct that something isn’t quite right. I recently got off the bus and saw the same car at least four times appearing on the roads that I was walking on. I purposely went to take another route and low and behold the car turned around and parked at the top of the street!
When I was around 18 years old I remember walking home from work and being followed all the way home. This led to the stranger knowing where I lived. To this day I remember just how scared I felt in this situation not knowing whether I was even going to make it home safely or not.
The person then went on to find out where I worked. I imagine that I was followed and my bus was followed. No contact was made between me and this car. They didn’t engage in conversation with me and I had no idea what they looked like.
That night going home I wasn’t followed. The car was parked just above where I lived, with their hazards on, I imagine this was to try and get my attention. I had many breaking points but no breaking point ever enough for me to call the police and report this person. I felt that if I did I would be a grass and that I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble.
Reflections on the past
Looking back and reflecting on this now I feel my decision not to report them was irresponsible as this person could have gone on to do far worse. One breaking point for me was seeing the person parked up around the corner from my friend’s house watching me. My friends left their garden to go and confront him – but he drove away.
Days later I took my baby nephew out in his pram, this man yet again knew my every move. He was parked up at the exact location that I was going to! This time he actually engaged in conversation and had the absolute audacity to ask if I wanted a lift!
The answer was no… Obviously. The final breaking point was the day that I went to the corner shop and there the little creep was parked! This time, I plucked up the courage and walked right over to his car in a rage asking what he was playing at!
His pathetic reply was that he fancied me and he wanted my number. Did he get my number? Absolutely not! CREEP! Thankfully that put an end to creepy dave. I did eventually find out who he was and heard that he was married with two children – perfect alibi right?
These are just two of my experiences. There are many more but I thought I would just share with you and speak out as many others are doing at the moment. It would be interesting to hear other people’s experiences and thoughts too – sadly I feel like so many women have their own similar story. It’s time for a change in society and if anything comes out of this awful situation – it’s realisation of what women have to go through on a daily basis.
Words by Lauren Sayles
Check out her full post on her blog here and show her your support.