Why we should be talking about this…


Amber Edwards

12 March 2021 0 comments

An estimated 3.4 million women have experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16.

With the news just breaking that police have confirmed remains found were those of Sarah Everard’s, the fear all women have for their own safety is heightened even more.

Women across the world have been sharing their stories and personal experiences regarding the vulnerability they feel when simply walking along our streets.

Why we should be talking about this.

It feels hard to explain to a man how we feel as women being out alone, the apprehension and adrenaline that pumps through your body when there is a male walking behind you, your body gearing up for that fight or flight response, your heart racing, frantically grabbing for your keys to put them between your fist like so many of us were taught by our mothers. Every time we are in a situation where we are out, alone at night, we are taking a risk – we are very aware that we are taking a risk but that does not mean we should avoid that risk, instead, the risk needs to be eliminated for us.

What happened to Sarah Everard is a tragedy, one that goes further than what most women experience, but women shouldn’t have any experience of this at all. I challenge you to find one woman that hasn’t thought twice about being alone at night, had a safety concern or experienced an attack or an attempt. As one of the trending hashtags on Twitter says: #NotAllMenButAllWomen – yes, we accept that not all men partake in unacceptable behaviours towards women, but all women have experienced this in one form or another.

Personally, I have lived in both Plymouth and South London near where Sarah was attacked, in both places I have walked alone at night and felt fear, there is no one I feel more fear than the other because as I said previously, there is risk everywhere. There is no ‘safe haven’, a street is a street and a man is a man, well-lit areas, dark parks, in our own homes, women have experienced harassment, assault and violence in all.

I am unsure how much of an effect sharing our personal stories will have on men, hopefully realising what we go through will encourage them to change their behaviour, unfortunately, it is unlikely some men do not even realise what they are doing wrong, and sexual harassment has been so unacceptably normalised. When our mothers teach their daughters to be prepared for men’s behaviour, to yell ‘fire’ because it will attract help faster when we were given rape alarm keyrings in school, encouraged to text friends with taxi numbers, addresses and full names and consistently reminded that ‘boys will be boys, we were being taught how to practically deal with these situations. But even taking all these precautions and being so fully prepared, nothing will stop our fear. Rather than teaching girls how to be prepared, we need to teach boys how to be more thoughtful and less threatening. We need to educate men on how to make women feel more comfortable. We need to stop focusing on women’s choices and start focusing on the men that attack us.

I am 25 years old and in my lifetime I have experienced endless catcalls from groups of men, men slowing down their cars as they drive past specifically to stare and intimidate me, being groped in clubs because I was wearing a short skirt, being surrounded by groups of men when walking home not letting me pass by until I gave them attention. I’ve given men fake numbers because they would follow me and insist until I agreed because they are apparently unable to take no for an answer. I’ve had unsolicited genital pictures sent to me, I’ve been sexually harassed while in previous places of work, I’ve been alone in an Uber when the doors were locked and the driver switched direction. It took me over 5 years to even come to terms with the fact I’ve nearly been raped twice, one of these times being in my own home. There is nowhere we can go and nothing we can do to escape the risk.

To fit that all into one paragraph is minimising the problem, but they are not even half of one woman’s experiences, every woman has her own paragraph, probably even a book, of times she has felt intimidated, insecure and in fear of her life.

I am glad we are having this conversation, I am glad men are realising to some extent what women go through every single day, I am not glad that we still need to have this conversation and I am especially not glad that we now know Sarah Everard’s name because of what a man has done to her.

Unfortunately, once again, we have proof that we are not afraid for no reason.

Have you or someone you know been affected by this? #TellYourStory with MyNeedToLive


Useful Contact Information

National Domestic Abuse helpline 0808 2000 247

Assaulted Women’s Helpline 1-866-863-0511 

Women’s Aid

If it is an emergency, always call 999


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