Top 10 tips to make women feel safer in public

1. Keep your distance

“When walking behind a girl or woman at night, remember that the closer you are, the more threatening you seem. So make sure to leave a good amount of distance between yourself and her. For me, space is key. If you’re walking on the same side as a woman behind her, walk to the side so she can keep an eye out when she looks round or cross over.”

2. Don’t run up from behind

“Having someone run up behind you at night can give anyone a fright, but for a girl or woman it can be terrifying. Next time you’re out for an evening jog and see a woman walking ahead… cross the road or make sure to leave a good amount of space while passing.”

3. Cross over the road

“Slowing down is something that many mentioned as a way to appear less threatening to women who are alone. But you can also consider how to go about overtaking them if you are in a hurry – try crossing the road to do so. That extra 10 seconds to your journey can make the world of difference to someone’s sense of safety.” ‘Slow down if you are getting too close. If you need to overtake, cross over the road. This can make a world of difference. ‘You can also tell when we are scared because we will pick up speed,’ a reply read. Otherwise, make it clear you’re passing. Someone else wrote: ‘I was once walking alone when a man ran up behind me. ‘He had the kindness to realise that running up to someone might spook them so he shouted out “sorry love, just running for my bus” and gave a little smile. ‘Very considerate and made me less worried!’

4. Silent people are more frightening

“If a man suddenly appears near a woman who could have silently been there for a while, it can set her on edge. It’s good to make some noise, so that your presence is noticed.” 'One of my male friends told me that if he feels he might be walking near a scared woman, he pretends to be, or gets himself, on the phone having a normal conversation,’ one woman suggests. ‘Silent people are more frightening than hearing someone talking.’

5. Don’t stare

“If you’re by yourself, being stared at is intimidating and unsettling. Taking out your phone and focusing on something else can go a long way to showing you’re not a threat. Look out the window to focus on something else, or call a friend to have a chat.”

6. Keep comments to yourself

“What you might see as just a bit of fun, or even flattering, is actually harassment and can be terrifying to lone women and girls.”

7. Keep your mates in line

“You may not harass women, but if you stay quiet while your mates do then you’re part of the problem.”

8. Never turn on a woman who won’t chat

“The intended conversation might be innocent, but women have long been told not to engage with strangers (especially if they’re men). Respect that a woman may not want to engage in chat.” One woman tweeted: ‘The obvious being not to walk (even unwittingly) too close behind a woman walking alone but also even drunk and being just chatty and friendly and persistently trying to talk to a woman walking home alone can be unnerving. ‘And never turn on a woman who won’t chat.’

9. Be an active bystander

“If you notice a woman is uncomfortable with someone’s behaviour, show your support by being an active bystander. It can be as simple as standing between a woman and her harasser to block their line of sight. Ask her if she is OK, and back up anyone else who is intervening.”

10. Share the walk

“Keep the conversation going by sharing these tips, and helping girls and women feel safer at night.”

Published on Stylist and Metro

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