"I view every shadow and every dog walker as a potential threat"

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst has been writing for us about pandemic life since lockdown began back in March last year.

Jenny Bathurst
Jenny Bathurst

The pandemic robbed her of the chance to sit A levels. But she ended up with three As and is now studying journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus).

Here is her latest contribution.

"Anybody who has consumed any form of news in the past week will be aware of the tragic disappearance of Sarah Everard a 33-year-old marketing executive who went missing in South London on the night of the 3rd of March. Despite ensuring her safety by wearing bright, recognisable clothing, keeping friends and family aware of her location and wearing flat shoes designed for running, the unthinkable still occurred. I write this column with gritted teeth and tears in my eyes, so heartbroken for Sarah and her loved ones as her body has believed to be found miles away from her home. There are no words that can describe the widespread grief for this young woman, as millions have taken to social media to make known their disgust and sorrow that this has happened.

"The tragedy of this story is that this is not an experience that hasn’t run through the mind of every female as they have found themselves walking home in a secluded location or when the night has come sooner than expected. Speaking from experience, I know that I can perhaps be too paranoid as I view every shadow and every dog walker as a potential threat, despite the likelihood that they are going about their business much the same as I am. If the paths aren’t well lit and I can see a figure in the distance my hand jumps to my pocket, as I walk with my finger hovered over my emergency contact until I feel in a place of safety. When I walk in quiet streets, I turn off my music and turn to look back every ten seconds, too afraid to look to the side for fear of what may be waiting for me on the other. It is heart-breaking that this is a normality for me and every other young girl. Sometimes, I come home more surprised than not that I made it back safely.

"We can look at what happened to Sarah and feel anxious, our worst fears confirmed that we’re not at all secure walking home rather than taking a taxi and never again leave the house after 6:00pm. But this isn’t what we should have to do. Now is the time for change, to look at what is wrong here and how it can be fixed. Of course not every man, or many men at all, have malicious intentions, but just enough do to give women reason to be afraid. It is not our responsibility to ensure that we leave the party early or wear baggy, unflattering clothing to protect ourselves, it is the responsibility of society to listen to these stories, act and educate."