We uncover why women are too afraid to walk alone – but will the issue ever be solved?
Several women have revealed that they don’t feel safe in the streets of Lincoln after the UN announced that 97% of young women have been sexually harassed.
A vigil was arranged by Sachania Chapman to give the women of Lincoln a voice and to show the impact words have on people after she sadly experienced sexual assault herself.
She said: “It’s very close to my heart and I’m stronger with the ability to speak about my experiences to help other people. The more someone opens about their trauma, the more another person feels it’s acceptable to open up about theirs.”
The event was to encourage people to go out onto the high street and write “I am part of the 97%” with their name and age, to show how many people are affected.
“It is every woman because if you think about it there are lots of people that haven’t reported these instances.
“We often hear these victim-blaming arguments saying that women are lying and there are loads of false rape claims, but less than 2 per cent of all rape allegations are proved as false. There is a lot of stigmas that needs challenging in my opinion.”
Sachania was deeply moved by the event as she has never known a female friend that has never experienced sexual assault or harassment.
“It does feel violating and especially when you’ve had those experiences. It is very upsetting to not be taken seriously, it’s disgraceful.
“It broke my heart, and I know that a lot of other people will feel the same.”
From her own experiences, Sachania is often too scared to walk anywhere alone in case anything happens to her: “I was walking home from my work the other day and I was hypervigilant. My chest was tight, every person that walked past me I was hypervigilant. I’ve never felt scared for my own safety.”
She added: “As much as this thing is not about men, I think people need to realise when they are saying not all men, or men experience rape too, that’s fine, but don’t diminish women’s struggles.
“Women’s issues are helping everyone; it’s not superiority and I wish people would realise that.”
Like many, Sachania hopes that people will become more educated on the issue so that women are not afraid on the streets.
“When you debate a person about something that affects them more than it affects you, remember it will take a much greater emotional toll on them than on you.
“We should be looking at each other with understanding and compassion and strength. Against all the odds.”
Megan Winter works for an organisation called The Blue Door in Lincolnshire and they support victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence within Lincolnshire.
She said: “I don’t like to say that women should have to keep themselves safe, I always like to think that it is with that perpetrator. It is such a sorry shame it happens.”
“However, we do offer a range of advocacies for victims of sexual assault or any sexual crime. We also support people throughout the criminal justice process or with other services for them, whatever that looks like for that individual person and what their needs are.”
She added: “We always make sure that support is in place, even if we can’t do it, we communicate with other partners across the region. It’s important we put things in place for that person.”
In terms of their referral rates, she said that they tend to fluctuate depending on the circumstances but explained that the news normally won’t affect it.
“Things go up and down all the time depending on what is going on in the world. But we find that nothing specific around the news normally happens.”
Megan expressed that it is important for individuals to know they can speak out about their trauma and that keeping it in will do more harm than good.
She said: “We offer that person, someone, they can turn to and talk about what is going on. We are here to listen to people about how they feel and try to help them deal with the impact with that on their lives and feel as though they can move on.”
Women are advised to carry things like hairspray or safety alarm as a precaution, but it is a topic that is greatly debated.
Sachania expressed her upset of having to take extra protection: “These things are not acceptable. People say educating the world is not going to stop rape, no it’s not, but it will challenge other people to challenge rape culture, and to try and stop it being laughed off.”
The Blue Door offer safety planning to individuals who feel like they are at risk when walking anywhere alone: “We can send people panic alarms and advise to keep their phone charged and stay in well-lit
areas. That is so important. But I do try and keep that responsibility away from them as much as I possibly can so they can feel like it’s not their fault and entirely on the perpetrator.”
Samaritans: 116 123
Lincolnshire Rape Crisis: 0800 33 4 55 00