Steph Claire Smith went for a walk. Then she spotted a white van following her.

Recently, our very own Mia Freedman wrote a viral article, titled: 'Why can't we go for a f**king run?'

The response was overwhelming. And it resonated with so many women around Australia for a very good reason: At one point or another, we've all felt unsafe going for a run. Taking a walk in the park. Making our way home from work or coming home from a night out.

We all have a story where we've felt unsafe. Like something could go very wrong. 

That moment when we have to share our location with friends. Call someone. Run without music in our ears. Look over our shoulder. Be hyper-vigilant.

As Mia wrote:

"We cannot be more vigilant. It's not possible. What we need now is the help of men. We need them to take up this cause as their own, to help us with the load. We need them to know how it feels to hear footsteps behind you or have your cab driver take a wrong turn and immediately wonder, 'Is this it? Is it my turn now?'

If men could feel our fear, they could never live with it. Day in, day out.

They would refuse to.

We don't have the choice."

Watch: If a man lived as a woman for a day. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

So when KIC co-founder Steph Claire Smith recently spoke about this TikTok video — 'I'm a woman who likes to run...' — and shared her own experience of feeling unsafe while walking, her story seemed all too familiar.

Speaking with co-founder Lauren Henshaw on their podcast, KICPOD, the 30-year-old said: "There was one point for me, where I was walking daily and I had this route that I absolutely loved to go on at my old place where I used to live."

"There was one day that changed everything for me because I hadn't thought about changing up routes and stuff. And I often walked in the daytime and I lived near busy roads — so I just didn't think about it, really. I think I was just a bit naïve to it."

As Steph went on the share, the scariest part about this was that she was on the main road when it happened — which made her realise that it doesn't just happen on quiet streets. 

"I was walking along the main road, and this van drastically slowed down in the lane — and it was a four-lane main road," she told Laura. "I can remember that van like it was yesterday — this white, old wagon with curtains in the windows. It was super creepy."

"Anyway, this guy had his windows down, and he stared me down as he passed me. This road was meant to be going, like, 70km per hour and he'd slowed right down to about 40km and the person behind him tooted him."


"In that moment — and this is something I always do when I feel unsafe — I either instantly call Josh and just have him on the phone or I have triple zero dialled and ready on my phone to call if I need to. On this particular day, I called Josh, and I was like 'Can you stay on the phone? There's something weird happening.'" 

"I'm glad I called him because this van then did a U-turn — again, this is a four-lane main road and it was actually illegal what he was doing. He then drove down the street again, did another U-turn and then came and past me again, slowed right down and stared right at me as he did it."

"Then I was like, 'Okay Josh, I'd really like you to come and be with me', because my route then to get home was to go down the side street. The guy did it a number of times  — three or four times — and by this point, I'm crying and not wanting to make eye contact with him and like s**t scared," she shared. 

"Instead of doing a U-turn, the one time it's not available, he went down a different side street, to then pop back out and merge back onto the main road. When he did that, I ran down the side street, Josh pulled up and I got in the car. Josh walked to the main road to keep an eye out. He saw him and what we watched was the guy then looking for me and slowing down at every side street, looking down."

"Luckily, I was already in Josh's car, so he didn't see me — but Josh saw him and got his number plate. We went straight to the police and told them what had happened."


After her experience, Steph said it's completely changed the way she thinks about walking or running by herself.

"From that point, I have not walked the same route ever again and no matter where I've lived I've changed it up all the time and tried to be a bit more spontaneous about it — just different. And I am constantly either calling Josh when I'm feeling like that or having triple zero ready on my phone. And it's just s**t." 

A snippet of Steph and Laura's conversation was shared on Instagram, and the post garnered thousands upon thousands of likes and comments, with women around the world sharing their own personal experiences of feeling unsafe when going for a run or a walk.

One woman wrote, "This happened to me recently, just after the Ballarat murder incident. A ute with two men in it passed me three times, back and forth on a very quiet road, each time slowing down and staring at me. I was petrified and haven’t been on a road run since."

"I had it happen too many times to count, now I nearly exclusively only run with my dog (a big black bull arab, the most submissive dog I've ever met, but thankfully, not obvious unless you have a small dog with you lol). I also saved up and got a smartwatch with a sim card that activates an SOS text with my location details to my emergency contacts."  

The stories are endless — but one thing rings very clear: In 2024, women do not feel safe.

Feature image: Instagram/@stephclairesmith.

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