This post deals with sexual assault and might be triggering for some readers.
I’ve lived in London for five years, but the past week has felt like no other.
A senseless act has shifted the ground beneath the feet of every woman in this city.
There’s a sudden tension in the air. A difficult gaze between strangers walking past each other on the street. The underlying knowledge of what happened.
Watch: Women and Violence, the hidden numbers. Post continues below.
We’re all on high alert.
And for the first time in my life, I haven’t felt safe enough to walk out my front door at night.
A front door just three kilometres from where Sarah Everard was last seen before she was murdered.
All because I know it could so easily have been me.
At 33, Sarah was just a year older than me. She was my height, my build and we even worked in the same industry.
And on the evening of Wednesday, March 3, just like Sarah, I was also walking home from a friend’s house in Clapham at 9pm.
It’s a route I wouldn’t have thought twice about taking at any time of night.
Clapham is an area of South West London widely known to be an Aussie and Kiwi heartland. Filled with green parks, familiar accents and Antipodean-owned cafes serving meat pies and Tim Tams, it’s the closest we can feel to being at home and it’s always felt safe to me.
Then everything changed with Sarah’s disappearance.
Last Monday I tracked how far her last known whereabouts was to my house – trying to work out if it was far enough that I could still feel safe on my evening walk.
A walk. The only freedom that we in the UK have right now during the national lockdown. It’s one of the few reasons we’re legally allowed to leave our homes. And now that’s been taken away from us.