Thousands of women from across the globe have taken to social media to share their constant safety fears and the precautions they take to avoid harm after the disappearance of 33-year-old UK woman Sarah Everard.
Sarah Everard was last seen on March 3 as she walked home from a friend’s house in London, and earlier this week, a police officer was arrested on suspicion of her kidnap and murder.
Sadly, suspected human remains were found by London police on Friday following the officer’s arrest.
“This evening, detectives and search teams investigating Sarah’s disappearance have found very sadly what appears to be human remains,” police chief Cressida Dick said in a televised statement.
“The discovery was made in an area of woodland in Ashford in Kent. As you can imagine, at this early stage we are not able to confirm any identity, and indeed that may take us some considerable time.”
Although it is too early to identify the remains, Sarah’s disappearance and the subsequent discovery of suspected human remains has seemingly confirmed every woman’s worst nightmare.
Every single woman I know is overwhelmed by the Sarah Everard story. It’s the thing they teach us to be afraid of from childhood. It’s proof that we’re not afraid for no reason.
— Rebecca Reid (@RebeccaCNReid) March 10, 2021
Following the news, I took to Twitter to ask my followers what they do, or have been told to do, to minimise the risk of being harmed by (predominantly) men and honestly, the results were shocking.
WOMEN/NON-MALE-IDENTIFYING PEOPLE: what are things you do/have been told to do to minimise your risk of being harmed by men?
— Lav Baj (@lavosaurus) March 11, 2021
Some of the answers were obvious things like “don’t walk alone with headphones in” or “don’t take trains alone at night (or at night, period).”
Other popular responses included:
- “Don’t go travelling alone.”
- “Never wear revealing clothes.”
- “Never go anywhere with men you don’t know.”
But even as a woman, I found myself shocked at some of the extremes women across the world go to in an attempt to minimise their chances of being assaulted, raped or murdered.
A big one for a lot of people and one that I had never thought about is not wearing your hair in a ponytail. Why? Because ponytails are easy to grab, making you an easier target if somebody wants to abduct you.
Similarly, cross-body bags are a huge no if you’re trying to be as safe as possible.
Obviously, you can never walk or take a train home alone at night, which leaves taxis and Ubers, right? Well, not exactly.
Most of the women who shared their stories with me avoid using rideshare services alone. But if they *do* have to use one, the general rule is to screenshot your Uber driver profile, or take a photo of the taxi’s identification card and text it to at least two friends.
As an added precaution, one woman warned to “share your location with several people if you *insist* on Ubering alone.”
Walking is another particularly dangerous activity for women, with many avoiding doing it alone, in the dark or with headphones on.
“Never walk alone, anywhere, ever,” another woman told me.
If you *really* have to walk alone, there are a few safety tricks that were shared with me:
For starters, never walk the back streets and always stay in well-lit areas.
“Carry something that could be a defence weapon if needed (steel water bottle if exercising, wine bottle if coming/going from dinner),” one woman shared.
“Hold your keys through your fingers like Wolverine,” a third woman said.
Another woman explained that she calls someone to talk to whenever walking alone to at least *feel* safer.
“If you have to walk alone, call someone and talk to them the entire way. Even in daylight,” she said.
Other women on social media were quick to share their stories too:
"Not all men" attack but all women experience it. And we are so, so done with you saying we just need to avoid certain roads or dress a certain way.
I live five minutes from where Sarah disappeared. It's safe and prosperous. She was wearing walking gear. And she's gone.
— Holly '8 Cats' Brockwell (@holly) March 10, 2021
The discussion around Sarah Everard makes me so sad about how normalised for women things like personal safety are. I remember a man following me as I was walking home asking for my number once and I was like “oh great now I have to detour so he doesn’t know where I live”
— Mollie Goodfellow (@hansmollman) March 10, 2021
Tell me you're a woman in the UK walking alone at night, without telling me that you're a woman in the UK walking alone at night. pic.twitter.com/DwE5x7JqNO
— Terri Lowe ???? (@HelloTerriLowe) March 10, 2021
This Sarah Everard situation is really scaring me, because she literally spoke to her bf on the phone, wore really bright clothing, walked on a main road, was outside before 12am, and she still got killed? Do you know how scary as a woman it is to know that?
— Angel???? (@proceeeding) March 10, 2021
This list isn’t exhaustive and is just the personal anecdotes of a handful of women who shared their stories. But if you try to keep all of these things in your mind every time you leave the house, even going out for a casual drink after work feels like a terrifying and exhausting task.
But one woman, in particular, put it best when she said that the biggest danger she faces when it comes to her safety is “existing, TBH.”