How it Started/ How it’s Going

street harassment

So this is quite the journey, huh?

I started this blog because I felt alone in my experience of being harassed on the run.

I was worried that my anger was mis-seated, that I was overreacting, making a big deal out of nothing. because that’s what I had been told I was doing.

We, as women, are taught to downplay our experiences of harassment from a very young age. We quickly learn that “lad culture” is the norm. Or, at least, it’s treated as such.

Christ, in 2016 a fake-tan-facist was elected as the leader of the free world despite his frankly bigoted “locker room” chat. Even this year, 55% of white American women voted for the same mango-misogynist despite his actively sexist and downright degrading comments.

The world conditions us to overlook the status quo, not rock the boat, settle into the structure around us. And for a long time I did.

For most of my life I’ve identified as a feminist but never acted as such. I’ve always been too busy, too shy, too scared to stand up against the playground “kitchen” comments, the workplace waist touches or the out and about aggressions which plagued my self confidence for my teenage and early adult years.

What has struck me, and what has become evident for many, over the last long lockdown of a year is how my behaviours are a direct result of my privilege.

I’ll confess, it’s not until street harassment started affecting my life that I got angry about it. Which sounds simple and blatant to state out loud but, when you haven’t experienced an aggression, why would you lend your time to think about the consequence of it on others.

Ignorance was my privilege, I think a lot of us can relate to that. And the fire of activism was lit in me when I realised this problem plagues many, to a larger extent, with less of a voice than myself.

If 2016 was the year where it all started to go wrong for the western world then 2020 might, for me, become known as the year of social change.

It feels a lifetime ago, that recognition of that spark of activism. Although I still struggle with the idea of calling myself an activist. My ideas aren’t radical. They’re not a fringe movement or societal rebellion. At least, they shouldn’t be. However, the more I find I branch out with my perspective audience, the further I realise we have to go with anti-equality eradication.

There will always be those who will want to snuff your spark out. They may not come in the form of corruption. They will often present themselves as internet trolls, as bullies and, sometimes, as side-line acquaintances who make you doubt yourself.

I’ve learnt that it’s easy to be gas-lit. To let the words of those who seem well meaning to derail you from your track.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered alighting from the feminist-freight train myself. “There are worse things going on in the world” I would let seep in “This isn’t important right now”. But the cargo this work is carrying is more than just my ordeal. It’s the freedom for those just beginning their athletic journey. The shy hobbyists, the casual joggers, who perhaps might lose the love of running without the incentive of safer streets.

It’s for the little girls growing up having to see their mothers fret about what they wear because she doesn’t want to be told she was “asking for it”. Only to be told, years down the line, the very same thing, not out of cruelty, but concern.

The battles we face may begin for us, but overtime they shape into something more. When we are presented with a platform it is our responsibility to mould that to the benefit of others. Our fears and apprehensions become a footnote.

Most recently, that platform has presented itself via aural form. After months of feeling as if the message was falling on dead ears I was invited on both the Runners World and Runners Life podcasts. Both times, quite honestly, I was sure I wouldn’t do the cause justice. That I would underplay the severity of the topic as I see it. I began to question my authority. “Am I qualified to speak on this?” I shut myself down before I had even tried, just as we have done with women for centuries.

But there are those willing to listen. They want to hear our voices. I would be doing the world a disservice if I were to feign loneliness in this fight.

We have to begin to trust that our fervour will prevail. That amid the stutters, the mutters, the “ums”, “yeahs” and “hmms” that the message will win out.

So.

How it started? Angry, honestly. Unguided. Anxiously.

How it’s going? Well, let’s just say it’s still going.

Winter Running – Is it Safe?

street harassment

So, lockdown 2.0, hey? Who’d have thought at the beginning of April that we’d be back here again (or still?), but this time with the looming presence of darkness hanging over us at about 4pm.

I’ll be completely honest, I’m a fair weather runner. There’s no better reason to run than a crisp, autumn day. Sea blue skies, crunchy carrot coloured leaves, feeling the sharp stab of cold air as you inhale those first, heavy breaths.

The idea of heading out after work, dreary grey pavements reflected in dreary grey skies if you’re lucky, pitch black usually, doesn’t fill most people with anything close to resembling enthusiasm.

And then the rain. The. Rain. Whilst I like to think I look like a character from a romantic drama, swept up in a storm into the arms of her lover, I’m pretty certain I appear more on the “drowned rat” aesthetic spectrum.

Winter running can be bleak. I get that, and I’m definitely not the first person to acknowledge it. But is there more that we’re looking past here? Whilst the rain, the dark and the cold appear, on the forefront, to be the obvious negatives, what about the symptoms of these conditions? What about the safety of winter running?

With the government restricting those of us in England to exercise outside during the second corona virus wave they seem to have overlooked the logistics of this for women.

In the first UK-wide lockdown there was a substantial rise in public sexual harassment on our streets. Plan UK found that 1 in 5 young women and girls had experienced some form of street harassment during the spring lockdown. Cat calling, heckling, being followed and abused increased exponentially. Runners World UK recently published an article stating that 46% of female runners in the UK say they’d been harassed on the run.

My shock isn’t at the numbers. My shock, initially, was at the time of the spike in this harassment. It has been theorised that perpetrators of street harassment felt protected by the quietness. That solitary women striding our streets appeared more obvious as targets than before. The vast outdoor isolation of lockdown enabled predatory people to spot lone runners and not be held accountable due to minimal on lookers. And where there were by-standers, there was a reluctance to interfere in “other peoples business”.

But street harassment is everyones business.

I’ve spoken before about by-stander accountability. I may write about it soon. But, to summarise, it is our responsibility to call out crap when we see it. It is one of the first steps to minimising the effects of a harasser. If a perpetrator realises their actions won’t be stood for, that, in fact, their car flung comments aren’t as original as they think they are, then they will begin to feel some sense of awareness.

With companionless exercise now encouraged by law, these matters may be only heightened in the winter months. We’re standing out more than ever. With high visibility clothes a necessity in the dimly lit suburban streets I’ve felt, all the more, like a moving target on my evening runs.

As silly as it sounds, there’s a gender bias in the assumption that running under the rare flash of a sodium street light is the same for women as it is for men.

I spoke to a male friend recently about having to put a cork in my sunset thames path runs for the year due to complete lack of lighting despite it being a well populated thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists alike. While his fears concluded with trampling through muddy puddles and being unable to see the scenic, but low hanging, branches mine took a much bleaker turn.

To the thought of being tomorrows newspaper headline.

“Women missing, last seen on towpath, she should have run faster”

And whilst my fears are unfounded from personal experience, I was told enough growing up, as all little girls are, to be constantly aware and on the look out for danger. Running alone in the dark, for a lot of women, is intimidating.

And many women agree.

I’ve spoken to female runners who are perturbed by being catcalled, followed, mugged, or worse. I’ve spoken to those who cross the street to avoid hooded strangers and habitually grasp their keys in their Wolverine like grip. Always ready to claw at anonymous threats. We take the long route home because it’s better lit, steer clear of the shadowed public parks because “public” doesn’t feel such a welcome when any unknown could be waiting in the trees.

It’s clear that, at the best of times, women feel unsafe running. So what can we do to avoid feeling the fear this lockdown?

Whilst I greatly begrudge the fact that the onus is on women to change their behaviour to feel safe, rather than on society to put an end to the problematic nature of misogyny, here are some small actions I would recommend taking this lockdown:

Buddy Up
Be aware that, as of writing this, you are allowed to meet up with another person outside for exercise. Having company for a run will help calm the sense of anxiety you may feel on a solo jaunt.

Lightbulb Moment
Sticking to well lit areas is all very well and good if you can but this completely overlooks the fact that we may have to adapt our behaviour to keep ourselves safe, rather than the liability being on the people who build our cities and streets. There are dangers in being forced to run along busy roads or more populated areas which may also bring a sense of vulnerability in a street harassment and covid sense. So, write to your local council about poor street lighting you deem to be a danger to the public. Even if nothing is done in an immediate sense it is always beneficial to raise these concerns with our MPs. They work for us. It’s their job to keep us safe.

Track and Trace
Take advantage of the numerous safety features on your fitness devices and smart phones. Strava Beacon and Garmin LiveTrack are two great tracking options available. Or for the London dwellers, the Safe & The City app allows you to report incidents from poor lighting to being followed in real time, which then collates these incidents to build up a map of the safest routes around the city.

Oldy but a Goody
Of course the time old telling-someone-where-you’re-going technique is a must for all runners no matter who you are, what, when or why you’re running.

Use the Force
Ironically, be mindful of what you’re wearing. Yes, yes, I know – sounds like I’m slut shaming. Hear me out – I’m the first person to call out victim blaming when people criticise women’s clothing, however in winter, please, wear hi-viz. At the least, you’ll look like a speedy lightsaber racing through the streets, at the most it could save your life or help people locate you if you become incapacitated in any way. The amount of times I’ve plodded along a badly lit section of the Thames Path and narrowly avoided a darkly-clad dog walker has shook me up more times than I care to say. Also, a head torch! Especially handy when your frozen fingers are fumbling to find your keys.

You Do You
Finally, do what you feel is comfortable. Society has a way to go with allowing us to reclaim our streets. Not being harassed or assaulted is still a “woman problem”, a “victims problem” – we are still being burdened with the responsibility of not being attacked, rather than teaching people not to become attackers. If you don’t feel safe running at night, do what you need to do until we possess our freedom. There will be a day where we will own the pavements. We’ll take back the roads from the fools in ford fiestas who hassle us.

So, is winter running safe?

Winter running is wonderful. The frosty sunsets are picturesque, the dusks can be tranquil, the trails and mud are the most fun you’ll have all year and seeing the city lit up under the spill of the shop windows florescent hue makes you see the streets in a different perspective.

There is beauty and joy to be found in running in the rain, embracing the drowned rat demeanour I spoke about earlier.

Yes. Despite my ramblings I believe that there are ways to enjoy the roads and trails as much as we did in those sunnier months. It’s our right to.

Does society have a lot of work to do to make women feel safe running in the winter?

Big time.

And that time is now.

Pippa’s Story #quitthecatcall

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As confident and badass as someone appears to be, more often than not, their experiences with harassment affect them. It’s not always visible, but it’s there.

Our actions and decisions are based on our experiences and, when it comes to harassment, we often base our actions off a fear for our safety.

Badass triathlete, business women, actor and very busy Pippa Moss kindly took the time to speak to me about this.

Pippa was also part of a photography campaign challenging stereotypes about Essex girls which I encourage you to check out!


Hi Pippa, so nice to catch up with you – sorry it’s not under better circumstances! Would you mind speaking a little bit about your running? When did you start?

Started running at secondary school – I wasn’t great but what I lacked in skill I made up for in enthusiasm and so became the reserve for both sprinting and long distance. I was in every sport team going so was pretty fit anyway. I was a pretty small teenager so I was quite nippy at basketball and hockey and all that.

After my Dad died (and during the many bereavements I’ve gone through) it became my way to ‘escape’ – if things were tough at home, I’d get changed and put my trainers on and just run. It became therapy whilst I learnt to figure out how to articulate my thoughts and feelings. 

I’ve since run a half marathon and did my first Olympic distance triathlon last year. The first of many I hope! I want to get better at endurance running and do the London Marathon.

London Marathon is probably one of my dream races too. Your triathlons are impressive! I imagine that means you’re out on the streets a lot training. Have there been incidents of street harassment in your life outside of training? What is your earliest memory if so?

Earliest memory is having my arse slapped when I was walking down Southend highstreet in Essex with my Mum. After that when I was on my first night out with my boyfriend I was pussy grabbed by a stranger. We got him kicked out but I didn’t drink or enjoy going out for a long time after that. I didn’t understand it. I also find it funny how I always feel the need to say I was with my boyfriend at the time. Regardless of being in a male presence, I don’t know how guys think this sort of behaviour is okay. 

Wow, I’m so sorry to hear that Pippa, it just goes to show that the normalisation of street harassment leads people to violent and physical altercations too. So, I imagine there have been many instances of you feeling unsafe on a run, then? What was the cause of these and what actions did you take in the moment, if so?

A lot of instances! There’s the usual, drive-by hooting and yelling at you – if it’s busy you feel safer but if there’s no one around it’s scary. I used to give them the finger or shout something back – but since I start self-defence (yes, I started learning self-defence) I learnt that you have to do everything in your power to avoid a confrontation. Now I just ignore it. I have plenty of other instances of being harrassed, however, where, if I felt safe enough, I would go up to the person committing the harassment and introduce myself and let them know, perfectly calmly, who I am and that I don’t appreciate it. I ask them for their name and tell them mine, offer my hand to shake and just get to know them a little. I feel like this makes them see I’m not just something you can shout a ‘compliment’ to. Fuck knows if it actually acheives anything.

Are then preventative measures you take to try and avoid feeling unsafe, then? I know I’ll often think twice about wearing shorts if the weather is nice (although it doesn’t often stop me).

Depending on the time of day I alter my route. Even though I prefer running in shorts I rarely do. I should wear what I want but I feel my past experience makes me conscious about it.

I know I also base my clothing choice on how busy it’ll be out, like rush hour, for example, I’ll avoid tight clothing. Is there a certain time of day or environments you avoid running in?

I prefer running in mornings and evenings – I used to run in the dark with lights because I felt more comfortable doing so, but as I’ve got older and experienced more crazy behaviour I tend not to do this so much.

I ask people whether or not their experiences with harassment affects their behaviour and habits running and, as you’ve mentioned, it makes you reconsider what you will wear, as opposed to what you want to wear. It seems that this has really impacted your freedom when running?

As mentioned in another question, yes. Sadly, the idea that what you’re wearing can be held against you should anything happen seems to be prevalent. I was a street performer for a while and being an actress I can hold my own, if I’m just living my days I tend to wear what I want. But I find in the gym community/running you sometimes get some ‘lads’ who feel like they have a right to ‘oggle’ at you. I’m just running/gymming to get to work. Not for attention.

Have you experienced any negative feedback from people close to your training and street harassment? A lot of women I’ve spoken to experience inadvertent victim blaming.

In a way. My Mum always says “be careful”. Like I’m just going to be completely reckless and irresponsible. It really pisses me off because women shouldn’t have to “be careful”. We should all, as a race, be respectful. Little girls shouldn’t have to “keep their wits about them” (another favourite catchphrase my family use), we should teach everyone on the planet to respect others from a young age, then we might not have this issue. It’s this subtle phrasing that reinforces the idea that women need to protect themselves, when in fact, we need to teach the perpetrators, not to attack in the first place. We need to nip the root cause in the bud.

Ahh, completely agree! Often these warnings come with the best intentions but it really does put the emphasis on us having to mind our safety, rather than just being able to exist safely. Is there any particular event in which you find there’s an influx of harassment? Lockdown has been particularly bad for me.

To be honest, not particularly. It’s pretty consistent regardless of the social climate.

I can’t really work out if the consistency is a good or bad thing! Sorry you have to deal with it so often though. What would you like to see being done about this? What kind of actions do you think need to be taken?

If that when we reported this sort of behaviour something was actually done about it. I would like us to acknowledge talking to and shouting at and sometimes touching women you don’t know/hardly know in public and privately is a massive problem. #MeToo has helped this in not just the creative workplace, but all. Still I feel a lot of harassment reports are swept under the rug for not being a serious offence. Just a few months ago before lockdown I had a group of lads inform me one of them was a rapist and start vocally harassing women on the tube. I reported it and absolutely nothing was done about it. 


Thanks Pippa, that last encounter you mentioned is absolutely out of order.

it’s evident that there’s a data gap in the UK regarding street harassment. Even though it isn’t currently a criminal offence if you see or experience and incident please report the time, date, location and something to identify the perpetrator by (like a number plate). The more we report the more evidence we have to stand on when we take this fight to MPs.

Jess’ Story #quitthecatcall

street harassment

Street Harassment Awareness Week

STOP Street Harassment is an international campaign aiming to raise awareness against Street Harassment – every year they head an awareness week and, it just so happens, my campaign has conveniently cat-call collided head first into it.

I wanted to take this opportunity to begin to share some of the experiences from some amazing women who have bravely said they’d stand beside us in this fight.

These are their accounts, verbatim. They are personal and raw. They matter. They are all too relatable.

I am collating and posting these stories in the hope that, if we shout loud enough, we will quash the victim blaming and stigma associated with it.

This anecdotal evidence is a huge step toward getting out voices heard.

Some will be anonymous, some will not. All are important and are real.

I have asked these wonderful women the same questions to highlight the face that our experiences with street harassment are, unfortunately, all too similar, common and consistent and yet still vastly personal.


In this post I spoke to the wonderful Jess (@kennyyyyy_)

Jess is a wonderful light in the running community. She recently ran her first marathon and proved that training hard, turning up and trusting yourself really can pay off . She’s a wonderfully strong character who I relate to a lot and reminds me that, some times, it’s ok to be silly among the serious.

Hi Jess, you’re part of the Instagram running community, but what inspired you to run in the first place? And when did you start?

I first started running as a teenager, largely due to the classic societal pressures to be skinny (a sadly common reality). I dipped in and out of it throughout my teenage years and university, generally building myself up to 10k, but I was never able to really push myself further or find any proper joy in it as it often went alongside very restrictive diets which obviously aren’t great running fuel! About 2 and a half years ago I threw out my scales, gave the middle finger to diet culture, and started running because I love myself rather than because I hate myself – and this MARATHONER hasn’t stopped since!

I relate a lot to that – to be honest, I started running for the exact same reason. We seem to have had the same experience of running through university too, I think I prioritised cider too much! So we’ve both not always been runners. Does that mean there’s been incidents of street harassment in your life outside of running? What is your earliest memory of this?

There have been plenty! My walk to work is 10 minutes, and I would say at least half of those walks I get some sort of harassment – from a leer out the window to a beep and shout. I couldn’t say my earliest memory exactly, but I do remember being catcalled whilst in school uniform, and even as a fairly attention-seeking teenager I knew how gross that was. I think it felt like an inevitability though, and so we would brush it off as definitely creepy, but expected.

-Have there been many instances of you feeling unsafe on a run? What caused it and what actions did you take in the moment, if so?

One that springs to mind was when I’d forgotten my headphones (which makes me nervous anyway as I can’t take my mind off people around me) and I ended up getting chased through a park by a group of 4/5 lads who’d yelled something at me and I’d told them to fuck off. I’ve also had cars slow down and crawl along next to me, with blokes leaning out the window asking for my number etc. I generally speed up and/or change direction. Sometimes I’ll cut my run short or change my route. To be honest, at this point any male presence on my runs makes me feel unsafe!

That’s horrific. I don’t know about you but I always think of a million witty things to say in response to these situations after but, in the moment, my mind goes completely blank and “fuck off” is usually all I can muster. People always tell me to be carful when responding too – but it’s hard to not want to stick up for yourself! Do you take preventative measures when running – is thinking about your safety normal to you?

I have my mum tracking me on runs, and my partner when I’m staying at his. I also have a whistle on me for most runs. I generally try to stick with very rural routes, I’m lucky that I live somewhere I can run routes avoiding a lot of people!

So is there a certain time of day or any environments you avoid running in?

If it’s dark (evening or morning) I’ll only run in well-lit residential areas, which is a pain in the winter months! I won’t usually run through town centre during busier hours.

And has that affected your behaviours in and out of running?

I tried running in just a sports bra and shorts a couple of times last summer when it was really hot, and I just felt I started to victim-blame myself every time I was catcalled in those outfits (which I would never do to another woman). I just felt so exposed and I’m very wary of doing it anymore so I’ll always wear a t-shirt.

I feel you on that – I have blamed myself before for the actions of harassers but would never even think of doing so to another women! On the subject of victim blaming, have you experienced any negative feedback from people close to you regarding outdoor exercise and harassment?

I’d say the main response from older generations is that I should be flattered/take it as a compliment. The alternative seems to be ambivalence and not seeing it as a big deal. When I was younger there was definitely more of the victim blaming – wearing “slutty” clothing etc meant you obviously wanted that attention. I don’t think anyone would dare say that to me now!

Hopefully attitudes like that are changing. Do you notice an influx in it after certain events? I notice a lot more during sports event, and even lockdown seems to have brought more out of the woodwork!

The worst it’s been for me was when I used to live in Bristol behind the Bristol Rovers home stadium. I remember once I went out for a run without realising there was a home game, ended up getting cornered and followed up my road by a load of rowdy Rovers fans. Never made that mistake again. The pack mentality along with booze just seems to make things a million times worse. Where I live now is so rural that during lock-down I’ve actually experienced it less because there’s just so few cars around, so I count myself lucky for that.

I think, weirdly, being on trafficless roads makes most of us feel safer in that aspect – which is everything our parents probably warned us against. What other measures do you feel would make you feel safe? What would you like to see change?

France criminalised street harassment and started handing out fines and it works! I don’t think it would eliminate the problem, but knowing we have that backing and we have the law on our side would be reassuring at the very least. I’d love to see attitudes to it change, I’d love to see more men calling out their friends rather than laughing off their behaviour and enabling it to continue (that one is a big ask).

You heard it from Jess, we need allies in this fight. It’s important for us to call out harassment when we see it and if we are safe to do so. It’s especially important to hold our friends accountable if we see this. Education is key.


Thank you so much, Jess, for speaking out on this. Your honest account will show others that they’re not alone and it’s ok to speak out.


My Story #quitthecatcall

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Cat Calling.

Let’s talk about it.

When I started writing this post, at the beginning of the Corona-induced lockdown I had my thoughts organised.

I felt calm and concise in what I wanted to say.

But now

Now a fire has been lit within me.

Now it’s time for change.

Recently, I have been sharing my experiences more and more on Instagram, regarding street harassment. I have been overwhelmed with messages of support and solidarity, of well wishes and advice. But what causes a knot of rage in my stomach and has distressed me the most is the accounts of every other female runner on the platform.

I know I’m not alone in this, in the feeling of dread and uncertainty every time I pull my laces tight and cross the threshold of my front door. I knew that before and to have that crushingly confirmed has been the spark that has led me to wanting to take action.

I guess my story is as good a place to start as any.

I’ve spoken to many non-runners in the past about the street harassment of our kind. It often results in the same, age-old, tiresome “but you’re called Cat, wheeey” comment, which I’ve now come to expect so much so that I’ll usually get there first. Saves my eyes rolling, that way.

I’m more than happy to laugh about the serious stuff in life – humour is the buoyant, British way of dealing with most adversity. However, it’s time to lose the smiles, change our grins to war paint and stare this street-born affliction in the face.

The harassment of runners leads to a dangerous precedent for women in most other aspects of life.

I can only speak from my perspective. As a woman who has been pounding the pavements for four years now and, before that, a barely-pubescent teen ambling to the village shop for a Creme Egg, I’ve seen my fair share of heckles, white van whistles and “Smile, love”s.

I’ve been shouted at, sworn at, followed, touched. I’ve chased motorcycles down streets in a blinded fit of rage and I’ve crumbled to my knees after in exasperation. Damning my legs for not being able to keep up with them and my eyes for not being keener.

“Get the registration number, we’ll have a word”

Have a word. That’s what the police officers told me, as I begged them in the street, breathless and bitter for something, anything I could do to stop this.

To not feel safe, to know the law couldn’t protect me, was shattering. In that moment, my confidence in our leaders waned.

Not that my ire is with the police – it’s not. The law doesn’t make their job easy in this matter and, quite frankly, they can do as much as I can with the little information I can maintain in that circumstance.

It always happens so fast. I’m barely able to muster an instinctive “fuck you” before my head is able to spur my body into action. By that point they’re usually just a small, misogynistic dot on an a-road horizon.

There’s a lot to be said for the inclusion of street harassment under the legal umbrella of sexual harassment. In September 2018, France took the steps toward making cat-calling and gender based harassment illegal after a video of a man assaulting a woman went viral, after she confronted his vulgarity towards her.

You’ve probably seen it.

It briefly shook the internet.

Before we all forgot.

Because this aggravating act is so ordinary, such a persistent, accepted element of our existence that we can’t help but sweep it under the rug as soon as it becomes inconvenient.

It did, however, confirm what we’ve been trying to divulge to society our entire lives.

This footage was prime evidence that verbal harassment is a gateway toward other more violent assaults down the line. If you asked any woman this, they could have told you that in an instant.

There is solidarity in the female experience. Not that I don’t have the support from my male peers. But there is a certain amount of nescience in the community. Whenever I’ve posted on social media about the reality of harassment there is always an influx of shock from my male friends and nods of acknowledgement from women.

But how do we expect our male peers to know about these every-day occurrences if there is still a stigma around talking about it. I’m guilty myself of just shrugging these experiences off as “it’s hot out, I’m wearing less, I made eye contact…”. And, whilst I’d never in a million years victim blame another woman with these thoughts, the accountability for my own ‘choices’ does seem to shame me into silence more often than I’d like.

I’m reluctant to say I’ve been fairly ‘lucky’ with street harassment in my running life.

I’ve never been violently attacked.

I’ve never had persistent, unwanted advances for more than a few minutes.

I’ve never had an encounter that’s lead to further repercussions for me.

Is that lucky?

I know plenty of women will be under the impression that, in the same circumstances, they’d feel lucky too.

Because, the horror stories you hear as a little girl seem worse. The terror you read in the media. The influx of warnings to protect yourself, don’t dress like that, carry pepper spray, don’t get too drunk, don’t flirt – he’ll think you’re asking for it, don’t go out after dark, text me when you’re home. The need to carry a wolverine like grip as you walk home from a night out, keys in fist. The stories from friends, from women we love. Who have experienced worse. The feeling that, on any run or night out, that worse, well, that could be me next.

I’m just lucky it hasn’t happened yet.

What a society we live in, to assume that the responsibility of safety relies on our own actions to divert attacks, rather than to prevent attackers being made. That if we only feel slightly threatened that we can count that as a win. That living in a constant state of mild fear is the norm.

So, I want to start talking about it.

I want to quash the stigma of street harassment.

I want us to speak up and the people in power to start noticing.

It’s scary, it’s ambitious and it’s provocative.

Women who have spoken out for their rights in the past have been subject to media abuse, cyber attacks, keyboard warriors criticism. They’ve been threatened with rape and death.

Which is all the more reason to speak out.

Until women are taken seriously, until our experiences are treated with respect this bigotry will thrive.

It’s time to make a change… watch this space.