The statistics surrounding women and stalking are appalling. The Violence Prevention and Action Center at John Carroll University released a staggering set of facts.
One of every six women will experience stalking in their lifetimes. Over 65% of female victims’ stalkers turned out to be current or former intimate partners, and 31% of women stalked are also sexually assaulted.
With this frightening reality in mind, women need to be equipped to keep themselves safe. One woman from Old Bridge, New Jersey, took to Twitter to tell a story of an incident in which she helped a woman in need. In response to 22-year-old Gabriella Rich’s story, an outpouring of other women shared their own stories, from both sides of the situation.
The sheer number of women who have a story to share is fairly horrific. It’s a harrowing testament to what women often have to endure just to move through public spaces alone.
Gabriella was able to help a woman she didn’t know while pretending to be a friend she was meeting with. She watched the man who had been following her swear to himself before turning around and heading in the opposite direction.
It didn’t take long for many women to share their stories of being stalked. It happens to women in all walks of life.
It happens to women of all ages. Some attempts are more brazen than others.
These men very rarely realize the harm they’re doing and act innocent, or run if it comes to a confrontation.
It forces women to lean on the men in their lives to feel safe, which is absolutely not how things should be.
While it’s uplifting to know there are other women we can count on as allies to help us in these moments, it shouldn’t be the way we forge friendships.
Going about an ordinary day, for many women, involves looking over their shoulders in fear.
There’s a misconception that when bad things happen to women, it’s because they’ve “put themselves” in a dangerous situation, when the fact of the matter is that these things don’t just happen in dark alleys, or behind closed doors.
Women casually encounter predators of all kinds day in and day out, without ever knowing what real degree of danger they could be in.
It’s especially dangerous for college women. The nature of a busy campus, whether rural or suburban, makes it that much more likely that threats to safety go undetected or are written off as a coincidence.
Women who are younger, or present younger, are not immune to these dangers either.
Traveling in large groups with other women isn’t even enough to ensure our safety, and we always run the risk of running into people who feel this isn’t their problem.
Thankfully, there are many wonderful male allies who recognize that things shouldn’t be this way and that the problem and the responsibility lies with men, not with women.
It’s sad that even in sharing experiences and brainstorming solutions, women sometimes still have to fear that any attempts they make to safeguard themselves could be used against them.
The work toward equality is important for all these reasons. People should feel safe regardless of age, circumstance, and the infinite variety of things that make them who they are.