Words by Caitlin Johnston Art by Ashley Menezes
The number of women killed on our streets and in our homes is incredibly alarming. Coupled with recent university incidents, it has evoked fear in many. How do we stay safe? What is Monash doing to help out?
Things you can immediately do if you feel unsafe
Phone a Friend
Call someone you know will answer. Explain to them how you’re feeling, where you are and where you might be heading. Personally, I do this when I’m walking by myself after work at night and there are only a few people on the street or if I’m at a fairly empty train station. I’ll use language like “I’m nearly there,” “just around the corner” or anything along those lines. The degree of a situation may vary, but if you need to call the police then please do so. Check what emergency functions your smartphone has.
Befriend the Bartender
Say you’re out at a bar and feeling unsafe or perhaps you’re on a first date that’s making you uncomfortable. Talk to the bartender or staff about it. Melbourne has a growing number of bars which have implemented a ‘safe word’ between patrons and staff, sometimes referred to as ‘angel shots’. Usually found in women’s bathroom stalls, there are different code words to discreetly signify if you need an escort to your vehicle, a ride home or police intervention. But safe words or not, remember that bartenders are sober and there to help.
Grab your Keys
A few years ago when I moved out of my parents’ house, my Dad went on about how he wanted me to invest in some pepper spray. Until that day comes, I will clench my keys in my fist. They might not do any serious damage, but I’d like to think it’s enough to help me get away.
Call an Uber
As a classic broke uni student, booking Ubers is a bit of an occasional luxury. But, if you’re ever uncertain about a situation, please remember that your safety is a priority. It’s worth spending a bit of cash to know that you’re safe. While in transit, it’s good to keep a friend updated through either Find my Friends, the Facebook Messenger location share or Uber’s nifty feature where you can share your status with others.
Strategies to prevent feeling unsafe
Pack a Phone Charger
Though I love my iPhone to bits, I have had it for around three years and its battery life is useless. I cannot count the amount of times I’ve handed my phone and charger over to bartenders and baristas to plug in somewhere. Bring a portable charger and continue to Snapchat and Instagram your fun knowing you have the peace of mind that you will have a charged phone to get home safely.
Watch Your Drinks!
This is a pretty obvious one, but you never know if it will happen, so please look out for yourself and your friends.
“Text Me When You’re Home Safe”
As someone who doesn’t own a car, I proudly use public transport to get everywhere. If I’m ever heading home after a night out there is always that one friend who will message, “please text me when you’re home safe.” Even though it can feel a bit pointless, just knowing that someone is looking out for you is comforting.
Extra words of advice and how Monash helps
There are a few things you can do if you feel unsafe when trekking to your next class or leaving uni after those late-night cram sessions. First of all, the Monash Security team operates 24/7 and you can call them on 9902 7777 whenever you need. Other options include arranging for a security officer to escort you anywhere on campus or catching a security bus which can transport you anywhere within a 2km radius of the Caulfield and Clayton campuses. Security officers can be found on foot, on bicycle or in cars. Please don’t hesitate to contact one if you feel unsafe.
In a time that fully embraces dating culture, we still need to be cautious of the relationships we enter into. Emily, a third year Monash Law student who has deferred this year to join the Police Force, shares some words of advice with us:
“It’s drilled into women since we were girls to not to walk alone at night, to always be alert, to carry keys in our fists in case we’re attacked. But the threat that’s talked about less—yet is the biggest danger to us—is actually who we let into our own home. One of the most important decisions you can make for your safety is choosing who you date”.
My sister once said to me, “once you fear then they win”. That is the most important piece of advice I can give. You can be cautious, but don’t let the fear stop you from going out. Be confident, be alert and most importantly, stay safe out there.