So, we asked the BuzzFeed Community what they do when they feel unsafe in public spaces — just because they're a woman.
Here are just some of the responses we got:
CW: This post deals with sexual assault and rape.
1. "I have been assaulted on public transportation so many times in Oslo, Norway, I finally gave in and bought a car. That’s how I protect myself: by spending thousands, just so I don’t have to take public transportation because a lot of men on there can’t keep their hands to themselves."
2. "The building for my major is on the edge of campus and I can’t walk to class without being catcalled or harassed. I feel like I can’t walk to class alone anymore, not even in the middle of the day. I have to schedule my day around when I can be traveling with other people."
3. "I carry mace, a taser, a knife, and a baton. I have had to use every single one to defend myself since I was 14 and started taking public transportation. I’m not even 30 yet."
4. "I always feel most vulnerable loading my children into their car seats — my back is turned and my hands are busy — so I always look around the parking lot before I get to my car and turn around repeatedly just to be sure no one is approaching."
5. "I just avoid elevators with one man inside. You never know, it's such a closed space..."
6. "I've long stopped going for walks or runs when it's dark out, which makes me sad because it used to be one of my favorite things."
7. "I volunteer every year, and there is no close-by parking — so I often have to walk several blocks to get to my car. As I'm leaving, I call my mom and talk to her the entire time that I'm walking until I get to my car. I started doing it when a man once started following me for several blocks. He quickly left when I called my mom."
8. "I always make sure I’m only wearing one earbud, and never go anywhere that isn’t well-lit. I often walk my dog at night and, even though he is a Great Dane mix, I still have men following me from time to time. When that happens, I go in circles to check. I’ve walked straight into other peoples' yards to shake them. "
9. "Back when I lived in a bigger city, I always walked confidently and quickly — even if I had no idea where I was going. If I needed directions, I would turn the GPS down low and hold it to my ear instead of looking down and distracted."
10. "I never wear a ponytail, a loose hood, or a backpack with a loop when walking by myself. These all make it easy for someone to grab you from behind."
11. "I have always used public transportation to go to and from school. I couldn't tell you about the number of times I've been groped in public. As a timid young girl (at the time), all I could do was shift so that dirty old men couldn't cop a feel of my boobs."
12. "The stern, cold, unfocused eye gaze is something I’ve mastered at an early age. If the occasional jerk isn't deterred, they are when they realize I look wilder than they are. Never, ever make any sort of eye contact if you feel or fear you’re being targeted. And never, ever engage in any way if you’re being addressed."
13. "When I was doing online dating, I would straight-up ask dudes to see their ID when we met. I'd snap a pic of it and text it to my sister right then and there, along with my location and plans for the night. I'd tell her if she doesn't hear from me by X time with a certain code that had been agreed upon before, then she needs to call 911 and give the police all the info I had just sent her."
14. "I was raped once, sexually assaulted a number of times, and virulently sexually assaulted by a boss. I always make sure I do the majority of my work and errands in the daytime. I work out at night, but my gym offers escort service to your car. I text a friend when I get home, and I always know my surroundings. I walk in lit areas and away from men. I still suffer from PTSD, but it’s getting better."
15. "I carry two knives — legal size, of course. One on my person at all times, except at the hospital, and one in my purse. I am a disabled woman who is by herself in a rough part of town. I can't run away, so, if I want a chance at living, I have to carry weapons."
16. "I have been sexually harassed at the grocery store a million times. I was even yelled at because I wouldn't give a guy my number and no one tried to help me. So now I only go to one grocery store, where I have befriended the staff to the point where I feel safe."
17. "I had a stalker about 10 years ago that would come to my workplace, so I'm pretty wary about this sort of thing. It's sadly very common for female retail workers to get stalkers, so they know what it feels like and are almost always willing and able to help. I've even had instances where we've hidden customers in the staff rooms to keep them safe."
18. Finally, "If I see a creepy guy on public transport, I either pretend to take his picture or take it for real. I make sure he sees me do it, but act like I’m being subtle and don’t want anyone to notice. I then turn on the sound of my phone and make sure the 'send' is audible. This burden is not ours to carry. I hope that we get to set it down within my lifetime."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.
If you or someone you know have experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE, which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search your local center here.