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Walking home alone

  • 08 August 2018


It's 11.30 on a weeknight. I'm on the train, coming home from catching up with my friends. I'm on the phone with one of them as I move to the doors. 'Yeah, I'm right to walk home,' I tell my worried friend. 'The train's pulling up the station now.'

I said that too loudly. I glance behind me and there are two men standing there. As I get off the train, I clutch my umbrella to ward off any potential attackers. Not that I would be able to do much. Probably just hit them in the shin and run away.

Once I was walking home from primary school when I heard someone running behind me. I felt hot with primal, deep down fear and I started to scream when I felt someone touch my back. 'Woah!' my brother said after I yelled at him. 'Why were you so scared? It's the daytime.'

We learn vigilance so early. We are told to be 'responsible for our own safety', like it's not already ingrained from every time your brother has been told to 'have a good time' while you're told to 'be safe'. I am, most of us are. Safety practices are so second nature I don't really think about them. I walk the brisk stride of someone who wants to look purposeful; no earphones.

I was cautiously optimistic when Victoria police said in response to an attack that they were 'focusing on the male offenders who are involved in this'. But then not long after the NSW police posted a Beyoncé parody of 'Single Ladies' on Facebook. One step forward, one step back.

As I cross the street, I have my phone ready in my hand. What happened to Eurydice Dixon and Jill Meagher is a nightmare come true. For a woman living in Melbourne, it's entirely too close for comfort.

But an unknown attacker in a park or on the street rare, statistically. Thirty-nine women have been murdered this year, most of them by men known to them. I know we are not truly safe anywhere. And it not just straight white women who have to practice safety. It's LGBTQ+ people and Muslim women, cases that often don't get front page coverage. I remember the times I've taken off my rainbow badges after Pride. As I walk, I think about all the women whose names I don't know.


"There will always be someone drunker than me or