*Warning: discussion of sexual violence in general below. Nothing specific, nothing graphic.*
I do not always go on the same route when I make my way home.
It varies. It changes depending on the time of the day. If it’s day, the sky a light blue shade, I go down this smallish lane making my way back to college. If it’s dark outside, I go via the high street. It takes me longer but I feel a little bit safer.
Even then, I always make sure that there might not be someone ready to ambush me. I make sure that my eyes avoid anyone that might be on my path. I have a mission. It is to get home safe.
The lane is not something I can do on my own. At some point in my first year of uni a bunch of guys catcalled me and scared the shit out of me. I can’t do it. I can’t possibly walk there on my own at night.
My dad keeps saying that I should take self-defense classes. He worries that something might happen to me. I worry that something might happen to me.
Some people may say that my fear is unjustified. Why am I branding everyone as a possible attacker?
But this fear is part of who I am. It is now almost like a piece of me that I refuse to abandon. A piece of me, attached to me because I am a woman.
This is not a denial of the fact that men are assaulted to. Men can be survivors of sexual violence too. But I feel compelled to talk about how I feel.
I got scared one day in London. I was making my way back from Barbican to Moorgate and this guy stopped me in the middle of the road. I felt fear through my veins, I felt fear in the beating of my heart. I felt genuine fear.
What does he want? What is he going to do to me?
The guy wanted directions. He did not know how to get to Barbican station.
Relief. Fucking relief.
But then I interrogated myself. Why did I instantly think that he was going to do something to me? Why did that happen?
It was night. I was on my own. I probably shouldn’t have been out on my own. I had just walked a friend closer to the same station the guy was looking for.
Recently statistics came out regarding the problem of sexual violence at my university. The statistics were shocking but they confirmed all the fears that I’ve had. I should be worried. We live in a world where many women still feel unsafe, where sexual violence is a thing.
This needs to stop. Something needs to happen to stop this. And it could start with fighting the entitlement that many feel when it comes to female bodies. It starts with consent workshops, currently in the news storm because two guys at Warwick don’t understand why they need them. It starts with people not denying the experiences of so many women, and of men, who have to cope with sexual violence. It starts with people stop blaming survivors for the attacks. It starts with making safe spaces. It starts with people teaching their children the importance of respecting other people.
I leave you with this video that illustrates how easy consent is:
Do you have anything to say? Have you had similar experiences? If you want to share, do so in the comment section.