I’ve been touched many times on nights out. Whether in a bar or a club, touched in inappropriate places and then unable to locate who committed the action when turning around. I’ve also been followed very closely, catcalled and told “don’t be scared” by a man who stopped me and came very close in the street. Since then, I often feel uncomfortable before going out and I’m always in fear of walking home. I make a conscious effort to get a taxi and always ring a friend or family member.
I’ve realised how conditioned women are to modify behaviour to protect themselves because as a society we don’t question it until something terrible occurs. Women are too often blamed and not the problem. Our work comes with speaking up, sharing how men can make us feel safer, their job is to listen and learn, to be understanding and not defensive. It’s not all men of course and it’s deeply systematic. We shouldn’t have to have a safety checklist that’s become auto-pilot just to walk home, or a survival kit before heading out that doesn’t even guarantee survival.
Words by Danielle Saunders