The Stories We Tell Ourselves by L.M. Merrington

Is this outfit too revealing? Will people think I’m a slut?

What about these shoes? Will I be able to run in them if I need to?

"Show us your dick!"

I hate the way they undress me with their eyes. But if I say something they might come after me. They might even rape me. Just keep walking and pretend you haven’t heard.

I’m glad there’s a big group of us tonight. Having the girls around makes me feel safer—we’re less likely to get trouble from predatory women.

That creepy girl over there kept coming and rubbing herself against me. I told her to back off but she just kept doing it. I had to ask Jas to pretend to be my girlfriend to make her go away. Those types of women will only leave you alone if they think you’re someone else’s property.

Michael just said he saw a girl slip something into my drink when I wasn’t looking. I'm so lucky to have friends who look out for me, but it worries me that they need to.

The others want to kick on but I’m tired and think I’ll head home. Cab or train? I’ve been a bit wary of taxis ever since Brad got groped by that cab driver. But I’m not entirely comfortable on the train either. Still, the train is cheaper.

There’s a group of young women down there who are pissed and starting to get a bit aggressive. Please don’t let them come this way. If they target me, what will I do? Will I move to another carriage? Or should I get off at the next station and hope they don’t follow me? Don’t look their way—they might take it as encouragement.

This is crazy. I should’ve taken a cab. At least I’ve got a large bunch of keys that I can carry like knuckledusters, but I hope I don’t have to use them. Are those footsteps I hear behind me?

Home safe. Jack and I have a buddy system—we always text each other to make sure we got home okay. He wants to know if I’d like to go out again tomorrow night, but I think I’ll suggest we watch a movie at one of our places instead.

In a 2016 survey of 600 young women aged 15-19, 30 per cent agreed with the statement “Girls should not be out in public places after dark.”
“This sense of insecurity restricts girls' rights to move freely in public places...ultimately, this can mean that girls feel they do not have the same rights to participate in activities outside the home and use public places as their male peers.”

It's time to change the narrative.

L.M. Merrington is a Canberra-based author. Her first novel, a Gothic mystery called Greythorne, was published in 2015, and her second, The Iron Line, will be out later this year. She is fascinated by storytelling in psychology and how public perceptions inform narratives about women's roles in society. To find out more, visit her website at or follow her on Facebook (, Twitter or Instagram (@lmmerrington).

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