Ladies, don't go out alone at night

(59 Posts)
GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 20:04:43

There was an attempted rape in my town in the early hours of the morning, in a park. All terryfying and awful.

But I'm feeling REALLY uncomfortable about the local response, in the media and on local facebook sites the message is "Ladies, don't go out alone at night". Which in my mind is victim blaming, and makes me feel controlled and limited. I wouldn't mind if he message was "People, watch out". Dh understands i think, but is it unreasonable of me to push away all the menz warning me to stay safe indoors?

A local take back the night march in solidarity with the victim might not go amiss.

BigStickBIWI Sat 19-Jan-13 20:12:29

I am very conflicted on this issue. I agree, absolutely 100% that women should be free to go where they want and wear what they want. However, in a situation like this, where you don't know where the rapist was/what the circumstances were, I think a little more caution is probably not a bad idea.

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 20:13:24

I have never heard of this - it sounds like a fantastic idea. Are there any towns it has been done in well before? We live in a reasonably safe town, mostly idiot teenager crimes. I don't want to have a curfew.

DameMargotFountain Sat 19-Jan-13 20:15:07

have you suggested the same poster/awareness campaign to catch the rapist?

or is that wrong, to ask people to be suspicious of a 'loved' one?

where abouts are you OP, i'd be happy to go on a 'reclaim the night' march if close enough

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 20:17:04

Bigstick - I think I understand, logically it makes sense not to go out alone late at night, it's how we've all been bought up, but then I thought about how it's fine for my husband to walk through town at 3am after a night out (rare, btw!) he doesn't worry about getting raped, and No one else worries for him.

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 20:21:42

DameMargot, i'm in Banbury, Oxfordshire. There's a description floating around - white male wearing a baseball cap, so not much hope there. I live very close to where it happened, its my local park.

BigStickBIWI Sat 19-Jan-13 20:30:06

... and if I had a daughter, I would certainly be counselling her to be careful, etc

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 20:36:31

Bigstick - you should also be counselling your son too! This is my problem, can't we warn everyone that there is a dangerous rapist about? i'm not sure i've ever heard media warnings aimed only at men.

DameMargotFountain Sat 19-Jan-13 20:39:09

also agree with BIWI, but there should be 2 campaigns, running side by side

if it's anything like something that happened locally, there was lots of 'ladies, don't get in taxis alone, wear short skirts, go anywhere alone, there's a rapist on the loose' - i'm really loathe to say this, but i did start to feel sorry for the men - the police were virtually encouraging women to treat all men as suspicious until they'd caught the one they needed too.

scurryfunge Sat 19-Jan-13 20:46:52

Do you think the police have specific intelligence that this rapist is targeting a particular type of victim and it is not a generalisation that all women are potential victims due to their behaviour. It seems this rapist will rape regardless.

dublinrose37 Sat 19-Jan-13 20:58:14

It always comes back to "women, modify your behaviour".

I agree that no one, male or female should take risks but sometimes you have no choice. You sometimes have no option but to go where an attack has taken place if you live there or work there.

I work in an office close to a lonely canal walk where a girl was killed a few years back, I often work late and yeah I do find myself looking around and being wary but I can't let one random attack scare me. I can't always rely on someone to pick me up and I can't afford taxis. And I have to work.

Rather than focus on the few cases where something terrible has happend I prefer to remember that many women walk around on their own at night and nothing ever happens to them and that's all I can do.

BigStickBIWI Sat 19-Jan-13 21:01:43

Yes, you're very right re warning sons. I have two sons, one of whom is gay. I worry about both of them, but for very different reasons ...

dublinrose, you are absolutely right. It's just very difficult, as I'm sure you also know, when it's so close/specific to your own area. And I do absolutely hate the whole idea that women should be the ones to change their behaviour.

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 21:04:21

It always comes back to "women, modify your behaviour".


That's my problem.

dublinrose I don't envy your walk. I do avoid this park after 6pm, mostly because of the drinking teens who hang out there but there have been some dodgy goings on there in the past, it only takes me 5 more mins to walk round it though - if it took any longer I probably wouldn't change my route.

Have been looking at the take back the night website, a fantastic resource.

I wonder how many men will leave their baseball caps at home tomorrow?

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 21:06:29

"It seems this rapist will rape regardless." How do we know he's a hetero rapist though? I think there's no need to target women with these warnings, I believe its counter productive. Warn everyone equally, warn everyone that it's safer to walk in company at night etc.

scurryfunge Sat 19-Jan-13 21:08:36

That's my point, a rapist will rape, regardless. Rape isn't to do with sexuality but about power and control. They will find their victim.

BadRoly Sat 19-Jan-13 21:08:41

I used to live in Banbury near Moorfields park and although I happily walk most places alone at night, I wouldn't go through the park. But neither would dh! I agree it shouldn't be down to women to modify their behaviour because of the actions of one man - but I would try to educate all my children (I have girls and boys) how to assess risk and act sensibly. In my experience, men are at more risk of attack (generally not sexually) at night due to muppets spoiling for a fight sad

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 21:09:55

Sorry scurry, misread you smile

LapsusLinguae Sat 19-Jan-13 21:10:08

looks like Thames Valley police have form for this type of thing..

(link is to a Bristol based feminist's blog. I am sure there is something on there about the Bristol feminist group's complaints to the police after Joanna Yeates' murder but I can't find it at the moment)

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 21:14:02

It's generally sound advice to avoid parks at night, isn't it? Sad that the world is that way. I'm not for one moment blaming the victim for this, she has every right to walk through the park without expecting to be raped. I know in London they lock some parks up at night, I'm thinking the park in question should go the same way.

LapsusLinguae Sat 19-Jan-13 21:15:13

OK found it - here it is

Here at Bristol Feminist Network, we believe that women's freedoms should not be curtailed by the actions of one or some men. Therefore we were disappointed that the initial police response to Joanna Yeates' murder was to warn women to be afraid of walking home alone in the dark, whilst the police search for the perpetrator.

We believe that this warning perpetuates the myth that women are somehow responsible for any attack that happens to them. But violent crime, sexual assault, even murder, are not natural hazards that women can somehow avoid if they follow a set of rules. The only person who is ever responsible for a violent crime is the perpetrator. Never the victim.

Women should not have to change their daily lives thanks to the actions of one or some men. Women should not have to feel afraid, or vulnerable. Women should not be made to feel responsible or ashamed for the violence committed against them.

We are pleased that the police have decided to amend their message to the public, encouraging women to carry on with their daily lives and not be afraid in their surroundings. We hope that they continue with this message.

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 21:16:25

Lapsus - that is a fantastic link. Thank you, I can put that up in response to some of the comments I'm finding difficult.

I'm not sure how Banbury would respond to a take back the night march tbh, looking at that.

HoneyDragon Sat 19-Jan-13 21:17:14

I know the case you've referred to as I am near by, and I have been somewhat frustrated too by the "lock up your daughters" kind of posts that have popped up on FB.

BadRoly Sat 19-Jan-13 21:19:34

It is sad that parks are seen as somewhere to be avoided after dark but I guess they have always been seen as areas for unsavoury behaviour after hours (I sound like my mother).

And I agree that it doesn't place any blame on the victim, we (make and female) should be able to walk in any public place whenever we want whatever time of day or night.

dublinrose37 Sat 19-Jan-13 21:20:07

I can see why some women would walk through a park at night. I went to college with a girl who worked nights in a bar, she took a short cut home through a park. I thought she was mad but she always said she felt the short walk was safer than the longer walk she would have to take if she avoided it. She always said you met more men on the streets and that the park was usually totally empty.

I really hope the woman in your area GotMyGoat is okay and that they catch this guy soon.

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 21:23:28

Lapsus, I need to see what the local police have actually said, will definetley forward that to them if they are the ones spreading this message and not our newspaper.

HoneyDragon, I remeber chatting on another thread about you being near by. it's quite a sensitive issue - I understand why people are saying these things, because they're scared etc., so I don't want to run in with a "Shut up!" kind of thing and look deranged.

BodyUnknown Sat 19-Jan-13 21:24:39

I live in Banbury... where did this happen? How awful. Such a small, low crime ordinary town (you'd think) with a rapist on the loose.

I know it's horrid to think of 'blaming the victim' but if my daughter were 10 years older I'd be warning her not to walk alone late at night in a miniskirt. I have walked past teenage lads in the town centre in daylight hours loudly assessing whether passing women are 'up for it' based on their style of clothing - who's to say one of them with a drink or ten inside him isn't a potential rapist?

And one of the things I have learned on MN is how much more likely women are to be raped, attacked etc by people they know rather than some random stranger in a dark park.

Implying that women can keep themselves safe (putting the onus on the women) by not walking alone, not wearing short skirts, not drinking too much is therefore a total fallacy, no?

scurryfunge Sat 19-Jan-13 21:29:33

Yes Hearts, stranger rapes are rare. Most women who are sexually abused are abused by people they know or who are acquainted with.

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 21:35:44

People's Park Body -, there's a little info on the Banbury Guardian website.

Generally I think of Banbury being harmless, a bit mouthy and very druggy but not really violent.

Hearts, I agree entirely. By suggesting we can make ourselves safer, is actually putting some of the blame on the victim.

kickassangel Sat 19-Jan-13 21:37:29

It is more likely for a man to be mugged than for a woman to be raped if walking alone at night.

More rapes happen at home than attacks outside the house. So the way for women to keep safe is for them to go out.

But what actually makes a woman at risk has nothing to do with her clothes or make up or where she is. A woman is at risk if there is a rapist nearby.

The rapist is the problem, not the park or her skirt.

HoneyDragon Sat 19-Jan-13 21:37:45

Yes. Same here. We had a case last summer as well where a woman was approached and intimidated, but thankfully escaped unharmed.

The response was a rush to purchase personal alarms and insist that no female go out unaccompanied.

LapsusLinguae Sat 19-Jan-13 21:43:58

GotMyGoat glad you found it useful!

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 21:47:17

Kickass, I like your statistic.

I hate personal alarms, I have a friend who used to clutch hers on the way home. I don't think it made her feel safer. No harm if it does make you feel safe though, I suppose.

kickassangel what a brilliant, succinct way of putting it... A woman is at risk if there is a rapist nearby.

still don't want my DDs walking around alone at night

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 21:51:30

Hearts, no I don't want to be out alone at night, but I'm much more scared of being mugged at night then I am of being raped.

DameMargotFountain Sat 19-Jan-13 22:08:03

the only good use for personal alarms is to batter an 'assailant' over the head with it! - wtf is anyone going to do if they hear a really loud bleeping? call the police? no - turn back over in bed and have a go at their neighbour for their car alarm going off angry

GotMyGoat Sat 19-Jan-13 22:16:45

I think they're meant to be super high pitched and unique, maybe they should have a computerised voice that says 'Rape. Call the police' or perhaps more useful than that, a button which calls 999 automatically.

Did anyone see that big red button thing that was advertised here a while ago? Makes me think of that, A service who you call if you are worried, and then the will call the police for you. I'm not sure how the feedback went for that.

DameMargotFountain Sat 19-Jan-13 22:22:56

I do remember that Got and saw someone trying to advertise a similar scheme on a fb page - what a waste of fricking time, call the bloody police if you think you're in danger, not some underpaid call centre staff who have to read from a script so they don't get the sack <fumes>

Lessthanaballpark Sat 19-Jan-13 23:41:34

If there is the case of a local rapist on the prowl and police feel they need to keep women safe until the rapist is caught, surely they should issue a warning to all men to stay at home, and any man out after a certain time will be treated as suspicious.

sashh Sun 20-Jan-13 07:19:22

surely they should issue a warning to all men to stay at home, and any man out after a certain time will be treated as suspicious.



The fewer women who go out after dark the more danger the women who are out are in.

In some countries it is completely normal for anyone to walk around at any time.

And 'after dark' - so how the hell are you supposed to get to work and back?

FellatioNels0n Sun 20-Jan-13 07:28:58

It's a very difficult one, this. I don't think it's victim blaming per se; it's no different to saying 'please don't drive unnecessarily in the ice and snow.' It is a temporary situation that will affect a particular demographic and extra vigilance/sensible precautions should be taken while the situation prevails.

Snow/ice melts, no more immediate danger, attacker caught, no more immediate/obvious danger.

Of course the onus should be on men not to rape, but I don't think it hurts for women to be sensible/vigilant about situations where sexual attack may be more likely. The onus should be burglars not to burgle us, but we still lock our doors and buy house alarms. confused

There are all kinds of risks to walking alone in isolated places at night - not just sexual attacks, muggings, men being beaten up by other men just for fun, etc. But in this instance the police believe there is a sex attacker targeting women. They would say the same if they thought someone was targeting men, or the elderly, or ethnic minorities.

Maybe a blanket "Protect Yourself" campaign would work?
*Take well lit / busy routes when walking alone after dark
*Try to travel in groups where possible
*Let a friend or family know you are heading home and let them know when you get in
*Use a registered, pre-booked Cab
*Keep valuables out of sight

chibi Sun 20-Jan-13 07:45:50

why should i not go out at night? Surely it is far more sensible to have a curfew for men? thatmakes far more sense. If they really need to go out (surely they can plan around that though?) they could arrange to have a couple of women escorting them.

HoneyDragon Sun 20-Jan-13 08:49:10

Yes but if you do get burgled no one blames you for not having a burglar alarm.

Or says you shouldn't have an expensive lap top/ tv in the house therefor you were asking for it sad

Well, no, Honey, but theyd probably raise a few eyebrows if they knew you leave your when you go.out.

In a perfect world, we could leave, after all, people shouldnt burgle. But, they do, and often a locked door is a sensible precautionary measure.

BigStickBIWI Sun 20-Jan-13 10:27:36

But a curfew for men assumes that all men are rapists, which is just as troubling

chibi Sun 20-Jan-13 10:52:39

my heart is bleeding for poor old nice men who are troubled at being mistaken for rapists.

if my curfew idea is a no go, how about heavily arming all women from birth. nothing crazy, like chemical weapons, just high calibre firearms.

women now have to negotiate the world with the knowledge that any man they encounter might be a rapist, and that they can't know which ones are until it's too late. it might be fun for men to negotiate the world knowing that not only do all women have guns, some might be all too happy to shoot them, and they won't know until they are full of holes.

maybe fun is not the word i am looking for- maybe fair. no, fun works too smile

chibi Sun 20-Jan-13 10:53:59

gold plated too true about the locked doors. how does one lock a vagina?

HoneyDragon Sun 20-Jan-13 11:04:04

I think the stay in vibe is allowing a woman to take the blame, whilst making the authors feel good about themselves for caring.

The people saying don't go out will still expect the tills open in the garage, people to be in the hospitals, supermarkets, night clubs and bars to be open in Banbury.

If those women then walk home and are attacked they can still say I told you so. That's the vibe I am getting.

Lessthanaballpark Sun 20-Jan-13 11:06:29

"But a curfew for men assumes that all men are rapists, which is just as troubling"

Yes, it's wrong that ALL men should be inconvenienced because of the actions of a few. But at the moment we have a situation where ALL women are inconvenienced because of the actions of a few.

But perhaps when men's freedom is curtailed to the same extent that women's is, we might see some motivation to change, because let's face it, rape doesn't happen in a vacuum. It is an extreme manifestation of disrespect for women that pervades quite a fair bit of male culture and is less likely to be stopped by women than by other men calling out fellow men on their behaviours.

FellatioNels0n Sun 20-Jan-13 11:10:18

Yes but if you do get burgled no one blames you for not having a burglar alarm.

Burlar alarm, maybe not, but you'd certainly get blamed for being naive and stupid if you went out and left your doors unlocked. I don't think it's a question of being 'blamed' is it? Who says anyone deserves to get raped because they went out alone, after dark and to an isolated place? Who is actually saying it is the fault of the victim here? It's not about blaming people it happens to, it's about encouraging people to be more cautious and more viligant.

People should not drink and drive, but that doesn't mean that I should not bother to wear a seatbelt. People should not push burning rags through my letterbox but that does not mean that I don't need a smoke alarm.

HoneyDragon Sun 20-Jan-13 11:16:27


The comments on a local FB site were very much along the lines of "if you are stupid enough to walk through the park at that time of night you shouldn't be surprised if you get attacked"

That's what's bothering me.

Lessthanaballpark Sun 20-Jan-13 11:29:02

"It's not about blaming people it happens to, it's about encouraging people to be more cautious and more viligant. "

Yes, but look how long it has taken to get to this stage, where it is recognised by the police that women are not to blame for their own rape. And even now it is not universal, as seen by the words of the Toronto cop or by the actions (or lack thereof) of the Indian police. It has been an uphill battle.

I remember watching a vid by a famous and respected Muslim cleric who, in his advocation of modest dress for women, asked this question: if a man sees two women, one who is covered, and one who is wearing a mini-skirt, which of those women is the man likely to harass?

He meant well because he thought he was protecting women, but it didn't occur to him that the root cause lay in the actions and attitudes of the harassing man, or that by pitting women against each other in terms of how they dress might lead to a competition of modest dressing that will eventually end in women staying in doors.

onyx72 Sun 20-Jan-13 11:34:12

I live in Banbury and normally don't worry about walking home from town alone at night. But I use main roads and would never take a short cut down any alleys and certainly not through People's Park which does have a dodgy reputation after dark.
But the police should be publicising ways for women to keep safe such as sticking to well-lit routes or taking licenced taxis - not barricading themselves at home.

GotMyGoat Sun 20-Jan-13 14:04:20

Honeydragon, yes that vibe is very upsetting. Bloody infuriating.

kickassangel Sun 20-Jan-13 16:55:58

The difference is that the people (mainly men) who rape are actually out and targeting someone. They will keep going til they get what they want. Even date rape and family members who rape women are deliberately targeting and homing in on victims. So it's not just like leaving your house unlocked, it's like a con man hacking your system and stealing your identity.

The best way to reduce rapes is to have an anti-rape culture. So, telling men it's not ok to make certain'jokes or warning those kids in the park talking about women being up for it etc.

Rapists may lurk in the bushes of a dark park, or they may be the friend of a friend who is buying you a drink, flattering you and gradually edging you away from the group so that you are singled out. Rapists are rarely opportunists, they are criminals who target their victims quite strategically.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Tue 22-Jan-13 18:19:59

Actually, society would protect more women by issuing warnings to them not to live with men. Because women are mostly abused at home.

It's also a common rapist tactic to escort a woman home - to protect her from other rapists - and then rape her.

But again, what needs to change is the attitudes of some men, not a drive to curtail women'sfreedom.

OneMoreChap Wed 23-Jan-13 17:11:52

it might be fun for men to negotiate the world knowing that not only do all women have guns, some might be all too happy to shoot them, and they won't know until they are full of holes.

Ah yes, we could all move to the US...
Rapists rape who they will; not always women, so a general be careful out there is a fine idea.

I used to live near a park that no-one went in. I walked through it a few times to prove I could walk through it (big fan of reclaim the night, BTW).

I'll add, in passing, that despite being an ex-prop I still carried a baton in my pocket, and I would have felt very nervous telling any woman she could walk through that park with impunity. Yes, you should be able to...

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