“I’m tired of being hyper-vigilant”

Another week. Another woman is murdered.

Vigils have been held for 25-year-old Courtney Herron, who was horrifically bashed to death in a Melbourne park. Hers was the 20th vigil for a woman murdered in Australia this year.

And I, like many, am once again left wondering… what next? What can we do to stop women being attacked and murdered in our community?


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As women, we are already hyper-vigilant. Chatting with friends this week, we recapped the ways we’ve been forced to become hyper-vigilant throughout our lives.

Friend 1: was jeered and leered at and followed by two 20-something guys when riding her bike to the local shops. She was 12.

Friend 2: was hit on by a cab driver who was taking her home from her shift at KFC. She was 16.

Friend 3: described how her parents taught her to park her car at night near streetlights, or at the busiest possible area of a car park. To walk with her keys sticking out between her fingers. To lock the doors as soon as she gets into her car, and to check the backseat before getting in. Avoid walking alone if you can, especially at night, and especially if you’ve been drinking.

A few years ago, there was a terrible crime committed against a Gold Coast woman who was out for a midday jog. It was a bright sunny day, on a main road, and she was attacked and raped.

She was doing everything “right”, and still, she wasn’t safe.

Thank the heavens above that we have moved on from a place where women are automatically blamed for crimes perpetrated against them, due to what they’re wearing, what they’re doing or how they’re acting.

Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius told reporters, “Violence against women is absolutely about men’s behaviour, it’s not about women’s behaviour. Every time I hear about a woman being attacked – for me as a man – it gives me some pause for reflection about what it is in our community that makes men think it’s OK to attack women, or take what they want from women.”

This is heartening. But still: I will still give my daughters the same advice I was given. Be careful, watch your surroundings, don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable.

The change must come from men and we all must hold them to account. But I don’t hold my breath for change. We will have vigils and outrage, but it will happen again.

I’m tired of being hyper-vigilant. But until things change, I will stay this way.

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