Following the recent murder of 22-year-old comedian Eurydice Dixon as she walked home alone in Melbourne, Australian police urged young women to "take responsibility for your safety" and to "exercise situational awareness"—and it's caused outrage.
One Twitter user deemed it a "disgraceful, sickening phrase," and questioned why we aren't instead asking "men [to take] responsibility for their behavior?," and why society isn't taking responsibility "for failing to teach men not to be violent."
The wording puts the burden of blame on women for the fact that they are sometimes attacked—or in the case of Dixon, raped and murdered just hundreds of meters from her front door—when actually, it's out of their hands who they come across while traveling alone. The only person who can truly control a situation like that is the attacker themselves, by deciding not to harm the other person.
In response to the police warning, one woman took to Twitter to share a chilling story about a time she was out on her own as it was getting dark. It illustrates how a woman can be as vigilant as they want, but sometimes it requires simple luck or another proactive person to help safely remove them from a scary situation.
It's sad that women have to be vigilant while out alone in the dark and have to make fake phone calls or aggressively jingle keys to suggest we're nearly home. But if "taking responsibility for our safety" means never leaving the house without company because we don't know who we might come across or what horrific violence might befall us, then we won't do that. That isn't where the answer lies.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.