There has been an increase in incidents around Melbourne recently of attacks on children and women. This, added to some truly horrific random incidences of violence against women in the past 12 months – which in some cases resulted in death – have really stirred up some anxiety in me this week.
I have only just recovered from an incident I was involved in while visiting my parents on the Sunshine Coast (Queensland). A male approached me while I was running along the beach, exposed himself and chased after me. After working with the police I was informed he had done the same thing to a 12-year-old girl just days earlier.
12 years old.
As a result of this incident, and an attack on a female runner on my usual running path at home just a few weeks later, it has taken me over a year to begin to feel comfortable running or walking on my own again. Up until now I either ran on a treadmill at the gym, ran with my partner on weekends, or went for walks with friends.
But in the past month I had finally decided I wasn’t going to be dictated to in terms of when or where I would run (with some common sense exceptions I have always practiced being I never run nighttime and I avoid patches in my neighbourhood that are isolated). I love running and I have run my whole life and it really drives me crazy that I am denied this right when and where I want just because I am female.
So with more news reports in the last 24 hours of an attack on a woman and a child in North Melbourne – I am having trouble figuring out how to feel about it.
I think mostly I am really angry.
I am really pissed off that women continue to be at risk of violence from men. For me, apart from running, it’s not being able to feel comfortable walking from a tram at night, going for a run at sunrise, or being able to stand on my own as so many of my male friends do in a taxi rank late at night. I have the absolute right to do those things and it makes me really angry that it’s something I am consciously concerned about.
And it makes me so angry, that if I have children (if I am lucky enough) – that they simply won’t be enjoy the freedom that we did as kids. That they can’t go riding around the neighbourhood on their bikes for hours on end. They can’t go exploring. They can’t enjoy the beach freely for risk of voyeurism (the Police told me the Sunshine Coast where I grew up is one of the highest areas for pedophilia in Australia).
This isn’t a new gripe at all I know, but it’s truly such a shame. And even more so because there is perhaps nothing we can do about it.
Well, I’m going to stick to my running plan for now. And I hope that with each step brings new determination to keep on running, and keep on doing the things I want to.
Girl power and all that!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, or your own expereinces. Please share below!
UPDATE: Fast forward 12 months and a violent incident in the US sparks the hashtag #YesAllWomen. Read my take on this here.