I was deeply shaken by the murder of Sarah Everard. Among all the terrible news of the last few years, Sarah's story stuck out, perhaps because she wasn’t that much older than me, and that it all took place not far away - it was very real. Unlike the distant events that we see on the news day in, day out, this one felt like it could have been me or any of my friends; we all took the news of her abduction and murder to heart. She was a girl we didn’t know, but what was to stop it being us? Sheer luck and nothing more. Sarah Everard was in the wrong place at the wrong time and tragically her young life was cut short. Women across the country went into mourning.
"it could have been me or any of my friends..."
We have always been told to walk in pairs after dark, to not be alone at night-time, to walk with our keys tucked between our fingers and to stay vigilant, but Sarah was killed by someone she should have been able to trust. A police officer is someone we are taught will be there to protect us, so who can we trust if not them? He "arrested" her before raping and strangling her. I can only imagine how terrified she must have been in her last hours, a terror nobody should never have to experience. I can’t put into words how heartbroken I feel for Sarah’s family, and how angry I am that her murderer Wayne Couzens was able to abuse his power as a police officer and ruin Sarah’s life.
'I can't put into words how [...] angry I am...'
I read her mother’s statement this morning and cried, unable to imagine how heartbroken her family must feel. What I can imagine is that their pain will never leave them, but I hope that Couzens’s whole-life sentence helps to ease their grief slightly. In her heart-breaking statement, Sarah’s mother explains her "rage" at the thought of her daughter’s murder, and how the “perverted” Couzens “treated [her] daughter as if she was nothing and disposed of her as if she was rubbish”. She explains that she dreamt of holding Sarah again, her statement ending with her heart-wrenching hope to “dream that dream again” so she can see her daughter once more. My heart aches imagining the grief she must be experiencing, something that Couzens should never have had the opportunity to inflict that night.
Sarah Everard is gone, and the nation grieves for her, but how many more women must be abducted, raped, or murdered before something changes? Sarah was just walking home. She should have been safe.
"How many women must be abducted, raped or murdered before something changes?"
I urge any women reading this to stay vigilant. It has been said before but evidently we must protect ourselves and each other. If we can’t trust those in positions of authority to protect us we have to be there for each other and ourselves. I will make an effort to look out for other women, for that girl who looks uncomfortable with that random bloke in a nightclub, for that girl walking home alone. We have to stay vigilant.
'We have to stay vigilant...'
I don’t know the solution but perhaps it starts with teaching boys and men to respect women rather than women and girls on how to protect ourselves. If men in roles designed to protect us can’t be trusted, how are we ever to feel safe? It is time for something to change.
I am heartbroken over Sarah Everard’s death, and I cannot imagine the pain being felt by those who knew her. All I can hope that this sparks some change, for this cannot continue. Women have been saying they don’t feel safe forever, and it is time to listen.
'Women have been saying they don't feel safe forever, and it is time to listen...'