Walking home alone at night I don’t feel safe in my own city

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:32 04 May 2018

A woman being stalked by a man. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A woman being stalked by a man. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Alessandro de Leo

As a young woman, I’m no stranger to being on my guard at night.

It is drummed into you - don’t speak to strangers, scream, run, shout as loud as you can if you’re in trouble.

But in Norwich, lovely, safe, welcoming Norwich, I had been lulled into a sense of security that really, nothing bad could happen to me.

But nonetheless the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and the familiar quickening of your heartbeat when your instincts sense you might be in danger kicked in when I walked home from the gym, alone, recently and a man started following me.

It’s not the first time it’s happened - although the first in Norwich - and you know when someone is following you.

I didn’t need to make the unusual direction change, one no one would make unless it was purposeful, to prove he was.

I didn’t need to check whether the man had stopped too when I paused outside a busy pub to pretend to check my phone, I sensed he had.

And I didn’t need to glance behind me when I carried on to know he had, in fact, started his pursuit again.

But I willed it to be a coincidence, he was just going the same way.

It wasn’t.

Being followed home is not the crime of the century - much worse happens to women every day and indeed does happen in our fine city.

But after the fact, when I was safe with a cup of tea, having shook the man when I happened to turn a corner and two policemen were there, I was desperately sad for Norwich.

This week we reported how more people now feel unsafe in the city, and it’s something I’ve felt.

And I’m not talking about being out alone at 3am (although I will point out I should be able to do that too without fear) - we’re talking about 9pm, 10pm, 11pm..

I follow all the advice - I stick to well-lit areas, I don’t walk with headphones in when it’s dark, I keep my phone in my pocket, my keys between my fingers, I carry a rape alarm.

Still I blamed myself. I should have stopped sooner, I should have called someone, I shouldn’t have acted like everything was normal.

But more than anything I’m angry. I’m angry that in my city men - and it is mostly men - are acting this way, making the streets less safe for us all.

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