Safety In Our Own Skin Is a Necessity

This post is one which I have been contemplating writing after the tragedy that took place following Sarah Everard’s disappearance on March 3rd. I wanted to try and make sure I found the right words. It is clear it has started a poignant and hopefully, a pivotal conversation about the level of safety, or lack of it that women feel. Having been subject to sexual harassment myself, not to mention a lot of toxicity I know all women experience surrounding the education of harassment and why it might take place, which is really just a variety of ways in which society says ‘you brought it on yourself’; why were you walking by yourself whilst it was dark; why were you wearing x, y or z; did you give any signals that might have led the person to misinterpret what you wanted…. I knew I needed to say something. We’ve all heard these questions asked in a number of different ways, whether that just be a look, as this lesson was one so subconsciously taught it hasn’t needed to be verbally articulated.

Having been subject to multiple experiences which would come under the bracket of sexual harassment, it is something that I feel extremely passionate about. Seeing the figures that have been posted in the past week have been heart breaking, but devastatingly not surprising based on stories I have heard from people over the years. It is so fantastic to see this topic gaining so much traction, and hopefully it might contribute to a better education of what should be expected from everyone to make 50% of the population feel much safer in their own skin.

I know that whilst women right now are the loudest voice, and understandably so, this really doesn’t mean to say that the men not vocalising their feelings on social media right now feel any less passionate on the topic. Not only do several names spring to mind when I think of men who have made me feel safe, and stepped in when it has mattered in the past, from strangers to close friends, but I also want to try and be mindful of the figures of men who have been subject to abuse. I am not taking away from what women experience, I am one of those women and I have so much respect and admiration for every single one who has been brave enough to tell their story to get this conversation moving in the right direction! All I am trying to do is place the statistics of men who are sexually harassed next to the figures of women who are, to demonstrate perhaps a fuller picture. I appreciate the number for women in the statistic I have noted is significantly higher, however, 12,000 men from that year also experienced a seriously traumatic and intrusive form of abuse – words of course won’t do it justice. We know that men have a tendency to bottle their emotions up and hide what might feel like absolute turmoil internally, and ultimately we want everyone safe, and for all victims to feel like they have a voice on this topic. I don’t think anyone who’s experienced this, male or female could disagree with me there and that is all I wanted to add because I couldn’t comment on it all without saying a little note on this element.

Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men (aged 16 – 59) experience rape, attempted rape or sexual assault by penetration in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 of the most serious sexual offences (of adults alone) every hour. 

January 2013, An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales, the first ever joint official statistics bulletin on sexual violence released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office

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