Last night, I decided to walk home from a friend’s place. I was offered a lift home, but it was a nice night, and my apartment was only a 15-20 minute walk away.
So I walked. Down the same road and strip of shops that Jill Meagher had, the night her life was taken from her.
I walked to an intersection, where I had to choose whether to continue on down my street where, 1km past my apartment and veer right, Courtney Herron’s life was taken; or down the main road and pass Princess Park, where Eurydice Dixon’s life was taken.
I chose the main road, not because it was less likely that a man might attack me there, but because it was better lit, with a greater chance of a passerby or resident noticing if it happened.
I thought, maybe it’s wiser to catch a tram. Then I thought, that didn’t help Aiia Maasarwe from having her life taken from her.
I realized that I was helpless.
I might as well chuck my headphones in and walk down my poorly-lit street. If a man decides he wants to rape me and take my life, there’s not much I can do about it.
I could try to run, but men are faster. I could try to fight, but men are stronger. I could try to call the police, but women’s clothes are designed not to hold our phone in easy-to-reach (or comfortable) locations.
Even wearing my baggy jumpers, shoes I can run in, and in a suburb that is ‘statistically’ left-wing, I felt like a sitting duck.
Briefly, I wondered if it was going to my name next. It’s something that most women have wondered, but being encircled by rape-and-murder locations as I walked, the question was much sharper. I wondered what my male family members and friends – who have up until now still mostly remained silent about violence against women – would say; if they would say anything at all.
I wondered if a pastor at church would mention my name on Sunday, to pay respects, and preach about protecting the weak and vulnerable. I thought, ‘Probably not.’
I wondered if, finally, the things I have written in the past about being afraid, angry and heartbroken at the continued silence of men in my life about respect for women would be taken seriously.
I wondered if my desperate cry to break the silence would finally have any impact.
I thought, ‘probably not.’
So I walked home; acutely aware of the fact that whether or not this night will be my last on earth is in the hands of the men who surround me.
And there is nothing I can do about it.