Park at night

Solution to sex attacks: “Don’t walk alone at night”

Aiia Maasarwe took public transport.

She stayed on a well-lit public path, on a major road.

She talked on her phone, on FaceTime actually, chatting with her sister as she made the midnight trek back to her home.

It was a short journey, too – only around 1km. She knew the area and it was populated with a 24-hour service station, a shopping centre, a row of townhouses, and an intersection.

She took every “proper precaution”.

And still, she was still horrifically attacked and murdered.

And still, the response from some people – and I would hazard a guess that they are male – is: Don’t walk alone at night.

What is the alternative, then… Pay for a cab or an Uber home? But what if that is where your attacker lies? Maybe women should just be on curfew from now on, unable to stay out past sunset? I mean, seriously, I want to know – what do we have to do as women to be safe?

I was in Sydney a few months ago catching up with work colleagues. A knockoff drink turned into another, and instead of heading back to my hotel with a little sun still in the sky, it was dark by the time I walked home.

I sheepishly asked a work colleague if he wouldn’t mind walking me back to my hotel on his way to the train station? At the time, I felt a little foolish – like I was over dramatising the risks of walking a short distance by myself at night.

Stories like this remind me that I was not.

Unbelievably, it’s been more than five years since Jill Meagher was killed. Jill had talked on the phone with her brother. She was walking along busy Sydney Road in Brunswick, and her husband was waiting, expecting her home just minutes after she was dragged off the street, raped and murdered on September 22, 2012.

Kate details a harrowing number of other similar brutal murders of women in Australia from the last half-decade on her Twitter feed here.

This is heartbreaking. Watching the footage of Aiia’s devastated father on the news is enough to make anyone weep, and again we start asking the question: what can we do about it?

I don’t know the answer. But I do know that “stop walking alone at night” isn’t it.

Quit smoking – and score a trip to New York?

Like many, many Gold Coasters, my mum gave up smoking as her new year’s resolution.

Here we are, more than two weeks into the new year, and she’s trucking along nicely without her daily habit.

She’s also significantly better off financially, as she was choofing through almost a packet at a day, at a cost of around $30 per pack. If she could set those funds aside in a little piggy bank, she’d have almost $10,000 by New Years Eve.

In fact, if Australians who smoke collectively decided to quit their smoking habits, we’d be able to wipe out billions of dollars worth of debt.

The latest stats released this month from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that 13.8% of Aussie adults consider themselves to be daily smokers, lighting up half a pack a day on average.

And new research by comparison site Finder has crunched the numbers on this, revealing that Australians spend around $14.6 billion per year on smokes.

That is more money than I can comprehend, so I feel the need to spell it out in all of its glory: it’s $14,663,600,000.

Spent on cigarettes. Every single year.

In other words: literally every single person who smokes could afford to go on an extravagant overseas holiday each and every year, if only they could kick their nicotine addiction.

New York, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Fiji, the Maldives – take your pick!

If that’s not enough incentive, Finder editor-in-chief Angus Kidman says smokers are financially penalised in other ways – like when getting insurance premiums, for instance.

“Insurance companies generally don’t differentiate between an occasional smoker and a pack-a-day smoker,” he says, adding that some insurers “charge up to 134% more if you’re a smoker”.

In further bad news for my mum and her ilk, Kidman says insurers usually require members to have given up smoking for at least a year before they classify them as a “non-smoker” and reduce their premiums accordingly.

I’m not quite sure how insurers can know your smoking habits for sure, unless they perform an autopsy after your death (too grim?), but it seems to me that quitting cigarettes is the best decision a smoker could make.

Woman questioning man

Do singles have “too high” expectations?

“This is why so many people are single”.

I have to admit – this was my immediate reaction when I read this article.

It follows the tale of a woman who ghosted on a guy (ie ignored him completely and disappeared from his life) after a few weeks of flirty banter online.

And why did she give him the cowardly ditch? It was because, in her own words, he had “never really done anything off the expected life plan”.

“Brendan seemed like the perfect guy for me when I first swiped right on him. He was good looking, fit and had a good career in HR,” the writer explains.

But Brendan had never travelled, “or been arrested, or even bared his bum in public. In short, he was too straighty-one-eighty for me. I like my guys to have a past… I want them to have stories about being arrested in Amsterdam or streaking at the soccer in Rio.”

Alrighty then. Just so I’m clear:

  • Good face.
  • Good body.
  • Good job.
  • Good person.

But if he doesn’t have an arrest record or penchant for public nudity, he’s no good? No wonder my generation is chronically single. It’s an absolute minefield out there and the rules seem to change on the daily!

Step this way, you’ll get ghosted. Step that way, you’ll be subjected to insanely high expectations.

Engage with someone, and you might fall victim to breadcrumbing: where a person leads another person on by contacting them only intermittently (via text, in your DMs or publicly on social media). They reach out just enough to keep the other person interested, but never actually commit. Ultimately, you never know where you stand, making this the digital version of “leading someone on”.

Add to this the fact that a University of Michigan study last year found that 25% of online daters punch above their weight when contacting potential suitors online, and it’s easy to see why more people are single now than ever before.

All of that said, let’s finish on a positive. That same study found that of the people who contact others considered “out of their league”, around 1 in 5 get a response. Perhaps this is strategy is worth pursuing – and the answer to all of our dating woes?!

Lisa Wilkinson

The truth about Lisa Wilkinson’s skincare range

I was doing a little late night social media scrolling when I was shocked to learn that Lisa Wilkinson had quit The Project.

I was even MORE shocked to discover the reason she was leaving the role: because she’d launched a new anti-aging skincare range and it was going so well, so didn’t have enough time for a TV career and a burgeoning business.

Lisa? Skincare range? Come again?

Her skin is legit flawless and she looks like a goddess, so I wondered if this could be true… but something didn’t sound right, so I did a little more research. That’s when I learnt it was a total lie.

Lisa has never had a skincare range, but sneaky online marketers have masqueraded as her to drive sales of bogus skincare products.

The scam has been running since she left the TODAY show, which is when Lisa tweeted: “This is complete BS! It is a scam. DO NOT hit link & DO NOT give them credit card details.”

Hilariously, for anyone who reads that far, the product description is a dead giveaway: “If you have a face and your face has skin, Final Skin will work for you.”

No doubt.

A few months ago, Carrie Bickmore got targeted by the same crap: “SCAM WARNING. If you see articles or fake ads popping up on your social media feeds saying I am leaving The Project to focus on my FACE CREAM/BEAUTY BUSINESS please ignore and DO NOT click on the link to purchase the product. It’s a scam and they will take your money. Very sneaky,” she posted.

And just this week, Chrissy Teigen has slammed weight-loss company Keto Fit Premium for exploiting her image and brand to flog quick fix diet pills.

Never backwards in coming forwards, she wrote: “Whatever KETO FIT PREMIUM is, I will sue the sh*t out of you. Stop making up interviews about your sh*t product with fake celebrity endorsements. we have reached out and you’re still going?? F*ck you.”

The problem is – and the reason we tend to believe these false endorsement claims – is because so many celebs and influencers will sell just about anything to their followers for a decent pay day (remember the furore when Kim K promoted weight loss lollypops?)

It just goes to show, you can never trust much of what you read online. Who would have thought?!

Annalise Braakensiek

Annalise Braakensiek’s passing highlights hidden pain

It was a crowded room, full of happy people celebrating. Dozens of people milled about, swilling drinks, sampling canapés and generally enjoying the festive atmosphere.

It was one of many Christmas celebrations I’ve attended over the last few weeks… except this one was different.

This time, I looked beyond the happy, smiling expressions plastered on everyone’s face, and I actually noticed the pain in the room.

Like the woman next to me, who had recently made the decision to end her 10-year relationship.

Or the woman across from me, who was grappling with a terrifying and life-altering cancer diagnosis.

The man standing across from me, who admitted that over Christmas, his struggle with depression had deepened.

The work friend of the host, who earlier this year lost a baby; the friend of a friend, whose dad had recently passed away; the stranger behind me, who confessed that her daughter had a debilitating eating disorder.

Or the host of the party – who, despite looking flawless in a floor-length white gown, had recently been delivered a health blow that will see her endure at least two surgeries in the coming months.

And these were just the pains that I knew about… There would have been countless other stories in the room that were “hidden”. Hidden heartbreak, hidden pain, hidden discomfort, hidden struggles.

When news broke of Annalise Braakensiek’s shock passing, I was reminded of this party – and of that fact that far too many of us are going through difficult times in our personal lives, which are not always reflected publicly.

Tragically, Annalise was an ambassador for R U OK? day, posting recently: “We have to break the silence on mental health because it happens to the best of us. (And in the worst situations) Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who have helped me through my dark clouds…. now I’m strong enough to help my loved ones who unfortunately are not in the best place right now.”

Perhaps we live too much of our lives through and behind the lens of perfectly curated social media filters, where there are too many opportunities to hide our reality? Annalise’s recent Instagram posts painted the picture of a fun, sociable life, when in reality she was clearly in pain.

If you’re not okay, please reach out – no problem is insurmountable. Contact BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. RUOK? is a suicide prevention charity that aims to start life-changing conversations.

If you are in immediate danger call 000 now.  If you require advice or assistance, the following services can offer counselling and support:
Lifeline 13 11 14
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Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
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Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
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MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
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