Walking home alone: a manifesto for preventing rape

Content note: this post discusses rape and victim blaming

It’s “common sense” which is still trotted out repeatedly that to “stay safe” (meaning: don’t get yourself raped), women shouldn’t walk home alone. It’s the sort of thing that I consider a dead horse, and then I see it in the wild yet again because patriarchy still hasn’t got bored of pointing blame at survivors. The latest in this very long and very tedious string comes from Essex Police, who have launched a campaign under the banner of safety.

It’s victim blaming, plain and simple, telling women not to walk home alone.

Defenders of the “don’t walk home alone” position will cry out that it’s a safety precaution, and therefore isn’t victim blaming. Thing is, it’s bollocks that it’s a safety precaution, because it could actually expose us to further danger.

If you want a safety precaution, here’s one: walk home alone. 

Your rapist is more likely to be the male friend or acquaintance who kindly offers to walk you home than he is to be some random stranger in an alley.

In four out of five rapes, the perpetrator is already known to the survivor.

If a man offers to see you home safely, say no. Kick him in the nuts, pepper spray his eyes, and run as fast as you can to get away from him. Statistically speaking, if you’re going to get raped following a night out, it is four times as likely it’ll be the guy who wants to escort you than someone you don’t know.

There’s a safety precaution right there, and it’s rooted in stats, unlike the repeated assertions to go home accompanied by someone. Walk home alone.

Of course, this safety precaution is, at the end of the day, as nonsensical as any exhortation to get yourself escorted home, because it’s still moving the responsibility for rape prevention away from where it lies: with the rapist. What’s really needed is a mass structural change, demolishing the culture that facilitates rapists. But until then, when the concern trolls bleat about “safety precautions”, remind them who the rapist is truly likely to be.

6 thoughts on “Walking home alone: a manifesto for preventing rape”

  1. I am a rape survivor, I was raped by my sisters ex boyfriend, I was also sexually abused by my step brother. Although there has been some victim blaming, the people who have been doing the most is the people who did it.

    I can understand that the police are not very descriptive when they say don’t walk alone at night, and that there needs to be more done, and I would love to see more done for victims such as therapy being available much quicker and more police dedicated to rapes.

    But we also need more education on what to do, as in self defense and women to feel more empowered.

  2. I am a rape survivor. I am often asked how I can possibly feel comfortable going out alone, doing things alone, heaven forbid walk home alone. When men offer to walk me home, I always say “Thanks I’m good! I like the alone time,” because it is true. But my answer, when I’m basically being asked “Why aren’t you petrified of being raped again?” tends to be along the lines of “Well I’ve never been raped on a walk home, but I have been by ex boyfriends… So I think I’m safer on the sidewalk than in my bed.”

    This ideology of ye women folk must arm themselves is, like you said, victim blaming. I’m not going to live in fear of the next time, and I sure as hell am not going to endure dull company walking me home when I feel just as safe alone.

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