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Freedom and Safety

Sarah Everard's death at the hands of a stranger has focused my mind on a much more common form of violence. Sadly, women have much more to fear being out alone at night in this day and age than men. It is an outrage that women cannot enjoy freedom and safety and that our streets are still not safe. When are women going to be treated with equality? The term is almost overused, and it seems that the world pays lip service to equality whilst continuing to devalue women as equals.

However, much more common than this is the violence continually perpetrated against women in their own homes and by those who are familiar to them. Despite the domestic abuse act making it a crime, very little has changed in the five years the law has been in force.

The government announced quarantine and lockdowns to prevent the spread of Covid 19 in 2020. They only considered the plight of women stuck in abusive relationships after this announcement and hurried to announce special allowances for women who needed an escape.

Having been in an abusive relationship, I fully understand the worries and stigma attached to the idea that I'm a victim of abuse, and therefore the difficulty in making a move to leave the household. For many years, I would also add that I didn't even recognise that I was a victim; I fully believed it was all my fault!

So in all the millions of pounds, the government is going to be spending to help make women feel safe, what will be spent making those of us that suffer physical and sexual abuse, as well as emotional and psychological beatings from our partners in our own homes, feel safe and able to step forward for help? This violence is much more likely to go unnoticed and prevented.

I, for one, was made to feel that what I was suffering couldn't be avoided. Twice I reported acts of violence by my spouse, which had happened in our home, the police indicated that they had no power to protect me. After all, they said, was it really attempted rape? as I was once married to him! The second time I called the police to protect me, was after he broke into the place where I was living and was stalking me. Once again, the police couldn't do anything as my ex-spouse was still a part-owner of the property! So technicalities or lack of understanding of those officers' crimes seem to prevent the police all too easily from protecting women and making them feel safe.

I didn't feel safe in my own home and actually felt safer in the dark in the rural countryside. It is a terrible blight on society that women still rank as lesser mortals and seemingly not worthy.

I hope that Sarah Everard's death will not be in vain and that it will be the trigger for change and a safer world for women, both in and out of the home.

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