Andrya was around 24 years old when yet another assault on the street in London in the nineties made her try to stop going out alone after dark. However, this wasn’t always possible, especially in winter. She says that the walk home from work always felt more dangerous the further from the bus station towards her house she walked.
“I remember one night returning from a late shift at the hospital. I got off the bus and soon there were footsteps behind me. I can feel the way I was preparing myself now even though it was 30 years ago. A man fell into step next to me and started talking to me.”
I did the usual; limited words, enough so that I wasn’t ’being rude’ and potentially him perceiving a reason to attack me, looking at him to memorise his outfit, but not to make eye contact.
“He was definitely on drugs, which felt riskier as I couldn’t work out which way he was going in his head. He was too close to me, he was using sexualised language. I was scared, on high alert and feeling so vulnerable. As I got close to my home I told him I was looking forward to seeing my boyfriend after a long shift. He stopped as I got to my front door, I knew my bf was out on his night shift, I called out to say I was home, trying not to shake as I put the key in and opened the door, raced to get in and locked the door”
Don’t walk home alone
Stick to well lit areas
Don’t get distracted by your phone
Pay attention to your surroundings, stay alert
Don’t wear earbuds or headphones
Keep your hands free to defend yourself
Carry your keys between your fingers
Walk with purpose- project confidence
Don’t shout “help” shout “fire”
Carry a personal alarm
Have self defence lessons
Don’t wear your hair in a ponytail
Tell people where you are going…
The list goes on…..
Women learn from a very early age how we should walk home to protect ourselves, you’ll notice Andrya said she did “the usual” before listing a whole host of tactics for how to deal with unwanted attention from strange men, tactics we are taught, that we learn, that often become second nature to us. Isn’t it time we started teaching boys not to harass women in the street, not to frighten, assault, rape and abuse women, rather than teaching girls how to deal with it when they do?