As I wrote this, I worried that it was all a bit obvious and had all been said already, but it’s important and the more voices that are heard the more chance there is that things might change. The tragic murder of Sarah Everard has had a profound impact on many of us on many different levels. First and foremost, my heart breaks for her family, partner, friends and colleagues.
Her happy smiling face has been in our hearts and minds since news of her disappearance first broke. Women everywhere were refreshing their browsers hourly desperate to hear some positive news. Desperately concerned for Sarah and their thoughts turning to the times they had felt scared and unsafe. She was just walking home.
I lived in the area she went missing for many years and seeing the familiar street names, first on social media appeals, and later in increasingly high-profile media coverage, made the whole thing feel even more frightening. She was just walking home, just as I used to when lived there. Like my friends who still live there still do, like women all over the country and all over the world do all the time.
As events further unfolded during the week and the search for Sarah moved to Kent it struck another chord. She was found in Ashford where I went to school.
Sarah Everard’s story, the total normality of what she was doing struck a chord with the nation. It has begun a movement. A realisation that women living in fear is not ok.
Every woman I know has felt worried that someone is walking too close to them at night, every one of us has clutched door keys between fingers, ready to use in self-defence. And the stories being shared on social media about women’s experiences been shocking. Shocking in content, shocking in volume and shockingly normalised. And I too have stories to tell. From a man indecently exposing himself at a swimming pool when I was a child, to a stranger trying to push me into a park as a teenager and someone I know putting his hand down my top in a local pub. All horrible, all wrong, but all pushed to the to the back of my mind. These things happen to all women, don’t they?