MIA FREEDMAN: 'Why can't we go for a f**king run?'

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Don’t go running at night, they warn us. It’s not safe.

So we go for a run in the morning, on a mild Sunday near our home. And we are murdered. Like Samantha Murphy.

Don’t go home with someone you don’t know, they say. It’s dangerous.

So we walk home alone. And we are murdered. Like Jill Meagher.

We are murdered on our way home from work. Like Anita Cobby and Prabha Kumar.

We are murdered at work, even when we work in schools. Like Lilie James and Stephanie Scott.

We are murdered while walking in parks. Like Eurydice Dixon and Courtney Herron and Masa Vukotic.

We are murdered in cars, alongside our children. Like Hannah Clarke.

We are murdered on beaches. Like Toyah Cordingley.

We are murdered in shopping centres in broad daylight while doing errands with our grandaughters. Like Vyleen White.

And in staggering, sickening numbers, we are murdered in our homes by men we know. Our husbands. Our partners. Our sons. Our fathers. Our brothers. Our boyfriends. Our workmates. By men we love or used to, men we’ve lived with or married or dated.

Why can’t I go for a f**king run?

This is what women are texting each other right now, with the news that a 22-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Samantha Murphy, who went for a run near her home in Ballarat five weeks ago and never came home.
Police say Samantha did not know the man but they allege he killed her. Just like so many men have killed so many of us before him and will continue to kill us, apparently until the end of time.


And if we are an Indigenous woman, we are eight times more likely to be murdered than if we are not Indigenous, most likely by an intimate partner.

What are we to make of all this? What can we do?

Not much. Because it doesn’t seem to matter much what we do or don’t do, what we wear or don’t wear, how much we drink or don’t drink where we go for a run or when. Men keep killing us.

So to our brothers, our fathers, our partners, our lovers, our friends, our sons and our workmates… here’s something we would like you to know.

We're angry. And we are so very, very tired.

We're tired of feeling scared and vulnerable. We're tired of the mental load we must carry in public and in private as we try to walk a path through this never-ending epidemic of violence against women.

We're tired of having to think about where we parked our car, how we'll get home, whether it's safe for us to walk in a public park or down a well-lit street.

We’re tired of having to endure abuse and assault from some men who claim to love us.

We're tired of having to be on high alert each time we get into a cab or open our front doors to a male tradie or go home with a guy we met at a bar or on a dating app.

We're tired of living with the constant level of vigilance required to avoid getting raped or murdered; a level of vigilance that seems to offer little protection because can we honestly not go for a run on a Sunday morning near our home?


We're tired of being told to be careful, be cautious, be aware of our surroundings. We do all that. We do it constantly. And still we are killed. In private spaces and public ones. At night and during the day. By strangers and by men we know.

We're tired of being told to carry our phones and make sure we let someone know where we’re going to be and not to drink too much or wear certain clothes or stay with an abusive man or walk in certain areas. We’ve heard all that. And still men are killing us.

Could someone tell the men to stop killing us? Why won't they stop killing us?

Because in how many ways must we modify our behaviour more than we already have, more than we already do? How much more frightened must we feel? How much more responsibility must we take for our own safety? How much more mental load must we carry as we simply try to get goddamn shit done and live our lives in a society that seems to do so pitifully little to protect women and girls from assault and murder?

Why is the loss of our lives so inconsequential? Where are the public forums to try and work out where the hell we're going wrong as a society and a community if so many men believe that women are theirs to abuse and rape and murder? Where is the push for legislation and the funding for education campaigns?

We're so, so tired. We’re tired of having to carry the incessant mental load of trying not to be murdered, a load men aren’t burdened with and is completely invisible to them. We’re staggering under its weight and it’s wickedly unjust that it is ours alone to reckon with. Every bloody day of our lives.


As we are encouraged to celebrate International Women's Day while reeling over the loss of yet another woman — and another and another and another — we share despairing texts and make promises to look out for one another, to add the safety of our sisters to our own mental load.

We are exhausted by the brutal war of violence waged against us by some men and we need all men to know the toll it takes on every woman. We need you to acknowledge the injustice and futility at play when it’s women who are essentially told to stay off the streets, and in the same breath reminded that statistically, our homes are far more dangerous.

Where exactly are we safe? Why can't we go for a f**king run?

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.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health or needs help, please seek professional help and call Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

Feature Image: Victoria Police