It’s been a sad week for women.
Another woman, minding her own business, who has been
Her body left miles from where she was taken
She now has a Wikipedia page dedicated to her death, cold comfort to her family and friends
A man has been arrested for her murder
Such a depressingly familiar scenario as was the following outcry from women.
the same phrases.
the same shared stories.
the same reliving of similar events.
the same reminder that we are not safe….
And the same platitudes; the same wringing of hands; the same empty promises; the same “Not all Men”
Here’s the thing – WE FUCKING KNOW ITS NOT ALL MEN! But, the good ones don’t carry a badge, or wear a hat, or have a certain look…..
“it was February 1983; my first year at university; my first month living away from home; the world was my oyster..
I was dating a long time friend from home. We’d known each other for 5 years all the way through High School. He was a good boy, from a good family, my mother liked him.. We had only started dating over the summer. It had been a blissful summer, and I was looking forward to him showing me around the campus, and how being at Uni worked, he was a 2nd year, I was a Fresher….
We’d hung out every day I was there, been to all the Orientation events together, I’d introduced him to all my new friends…
The final event was a “Hop”; actually just a dance, we’d gone with friends, and as it wound down, I went back to his room in the all-male halls of residence, as I had during the week…..
I said No
I can still feel his rage
I can still see his face twisted in anger and disbelief
I can still feel his hands
His words are seared in my brain
“YOU’RE NOTHING BUT A COCK TEASE”
“FUCKING FRIGID BITCH”
“MAYBE YOU ARE GAY AFTER ALL”
“YOU’VE BEEN PROMISING THIS ALL SUMMER”
I knew his door was locked……
I knew everyone in the hostel would ignore my cries for help – who knew if they would want to come and join in?
I don’t know how long it lasted; terror wiped time out
Eventually he unlocked the door; pushed me out into the darkened corridor; slammed the door behind me
“FUCKING SLUT BITCH”
I gathered my ripped t shirt, snuck down the stairs and crept out the front door…
Went back to my room; threw the t shirt away, and climbed into bed…
I never told anyone….
My brain told me it was my fault; maybe I had “led him on”; I had been drinking; I did go back to his room……….
It was 1983; it would’ve been my fault…
He may not have taken my virginity, but he took other things of value
My self esteem
My sense of security
Even now, when I talk about it, I premise it with “it wasn’t a rape”
It has coloured how I lived that year, and how I’ve lived since; how I’ve parented my kids; how I have thought about myself for 38 years
It has moulded my reactions to anger in particular; but has influenced my responses to a whole range of experiences; it made me fearful
Today I told 17 year old Me, it wasn’t my fault
I should’ve been safe
I did nothing wrong
He should’ve kept me safe
It wasn’t my fault I had been drinking
It wasn’t my fault I wore party clothes
It wasn’t my fault I went back to his room
It wasn’t my fault I said no
It wasn’t my fault
It was His
He should’ve kept me safe
Women should be safe. It’s that simple
Grandmothers; Mothers; Aunts; sisters; nieces; daughters; granddaughters; friends; colleagues; strangers. WE should all be safe
In our homes; in our friends homes; at college; at work; on the streets; in the park; at the beach; on the train; at the pub; on the bus; in the taxi; in our flats; at that party; EVERYWHERE
When public figures attack women, or don’t call out attacks on women – they condone the continued attacks on women.
When people pat themselves on the back and say, “I’m not like that”, this only gives themselves grace, if they actively educate the men around them to treat women with respect and keep them safe. Call out the actions; call out the words; teach respect; teach consideration; show respect; make the spaces around them places of safety.. THEN they are not part of the problem….
WE should be safe everywhere
How many women will not walk in the dark; or carry their keys in their hands; pretend to phone a friend; take note of the taxi details; dress differently; only run in well populated areas?
I’ve read that Sarah did “all the right things”. This phrase absolves everyone else of any responsibility. She shouldn’t have needed to “Do all the right things”
If you don’t believe me, ask any woman in your life how she lives; the choices she makes; if she has ever felt unsafe, doing things you take for granted.
Ask her if she has “a story”; chances are she does….
As a society, we all need to take responsibility to keep women safe and let them live lives of freedom
I did nothing wrong
I should have been safe