I live on Jersey, an island that is 9 miles by 5 miles. An island that is relatively safe yet I wouldn’t choose to go out alone at night. I am not sure why I feel like I can’t go out alone. When I was a student in Sheffield I was mugged in a phone box in broad daylight on a busy street. When I lived in Leeds I was walking home one night when a man asked me to get in his car with him. Apparently, he thought I was a prostitute. I would like to point out that I was wearing a very modest business suit.
I wonder if it is these events that have made me nervous. Yet I can’t really blame those two incidents. I was once hit over the head by a student but it didn’t make me scared of teaching and I had an abusive ex-boyfriend but it didn’t put me off men. It feels so hypocritical being afraid of walking home alone at night because I like to think that I am strong independent woman. Why am I so fearful of a street at night?
There was a time where I was once fearless and now I look back and I wonder if I was even a bit reckless. Once my friend and I got into an unlicensed cab in London. We were then outraged when the taxi driver started making inappropriate remarks and slapped my friend on the bottom when we left the taxi. Sometimes I wish I could be more like that girl again, the girl in her early twenties who was confident, cocky and unafraid of anything or anyone.
Age and children have made me more fearful. I have been changed by the constant news stories that detail women being attacked at night. Their stories have seeped into my skin and become a part of me. Now walking alone at night is an activity that is fraught with danger. I imagine potential attackers lurking everywhere, behind bins, leaping around street corners and dragging me down alley ways. Does this make me sexist? Or am I just aware of the inequality of our society? We all know that women are more vulnerable compared to men. We all know that it is a woman who is more likely to be the victim of a sex crime and it is a woman who is more likely to become the victim of an abusive relationship.
I’m not sure what the answer is. We should live in a society where we feel that we can walk alone at night but sadly this isn’t the case. Only last month Manchester police issued a warning to women, urging them not to walk home alone because there had been a string of sex attacks. However, women aren’t the only ones who should be afraid of walking home in the dark. I had a rather timely reminder of that this week, a leaflet pushed through my door about Adrian Lynch. Adrian went missing on December 5th in the early hours of the morning. He was walking home after a work night out. We are now in April and despite this being a very small island there has been no sign of him. Nothing to indicate what happened to him. It is a desperately sad situation. He is a son, brother, friend and now a missing person.
The reality is that no matter who we are we need to think twice about walking alone at night. That doesn’t make me a hypocrite it makes me a realist.
Do you feel comfortable walking on your own at night?