When it comes to women taking up the space they deserve, it’s easier to tell women to do it, and much harder to recognize just how unsafe so many women feel walking the streets alone. 

Which is why this Reddit thread where women have shared how often they feel unsafe in the presence of men is so relevant. 

Here, take a look at what women have said about this. Read on: 

1. “When I go on my regular walks, around the block in my neighborhood, and I see men (a man) walking towards/behind me, I cross the street or just tense up. So, it’s pretty common. I don’t even realize that I am holding my breath until I walk past them.”

– Expensive_Client7941

2. “Any time I’m relatively isolated and there’s a guy who is too close to me/heading in my direction, no matter how much self defense I learn, guys can very easily overpower me, and that’s straight up terrifying.”

– boklenhle

3. “For some reason, I’m never threatened by a guy who is looking at his phone while walking. I know that’s different at night, but this helps me during the daytime.”

– AmazingConsequence20

4. “The other day, when a man blasting music sped past me, then parked up the road, got out, and just stood there, I did a 180 and walked two blocks around to avoid him. Scared the shit out of me.”

– downtownflipped

5. “I used to walk on my treadmill but had to sell it, so I started to walk around my neighborhood and because I walked during the evening I realized I was always tense about seeing men around me. Especially with bikes or dogs. So, I stopped walking because I couldn’t enjoy my walks. I try to go if I have a companion but it’s rare since everyone is on a different schedules.”

– blu3an

6. ” I just realized that I hold my breath every time I pass a guy too. It’s probably a way to focus, I can hear any change in footsteps/direction, when holding my breath.”

– Salmon-nigiri

7. “I hate when they’re behind me and I’m in the city. I always sideways glance in the windows of buildings I’m passing to assess whether they’re getting closer and if they are looking at me.”

– grenadarose

8. “Very common. I’m not usually worried that someone is going to like kidnap and assault me in a really violent way, but I am always worried about cat calling, being followed, and harassed. It has happened more times than I can count. Anything from wolf whistles, to “Hey baby, god damn you’re cute”, to leering at my boobs, to following me for 20+ minutes on my way home, to following me into my apartment building and getting physical, it has all happened to me. So unfortunately, anytime I am out alone, I am worried that something is going to happen, so I try to make myself seem unapproachable by walking fast, avoiding eye contact.”

– Lilah_Vale

9. “This is why I need someone I know with me at all times, for that sense of safety. And all those experiences have literally killed my ability to go out, simply order food for myself in person, approach strangers to ask questions. And I’ve become a very quiet person. All because I’m worried of drawing unnecessary attention to myself.”

– Royal-Dot-9307

10. “I lived in a city for a short time after college and the amount of cat-calling, harassment and following I endured definitely made me feel unsafe around men. That period was followed by a more overt attempt at sexual assault that made it very hard for me to leave the house without panicking for a while. Cat-calling etc. may seem relatively harmless, but the incessant nature of it and the fact that you could be yelled at and followed when you’re just trying to get some groceries definitely takes a toll.”

– thegrlwiththesqurl

11. “Pretty common. I live in a safe neighbourhood and I don’t have a problem with walking home very late at night, but I am vigilant nonetheless.”

– Relative_Dimensions

12. “On guard? A little suspicious? Every day. I’ve been followed home before, so if I see a guy looking at me too long and watching where I’m headed, I’m alert. If I see a group of men, especially when they stop talking as I approach, I’m alert. If a guy catcalls me, I’m alert. I don’t engage and I don’t make eye contact with men in the street. Had too many of them take it as an invitation to fuck with me. 

Actually actively unsafe? Once a month. I’ve been followed home, drunk guys have screamed at me, jerked off, have taken photos of me, have told me they know my routine, tried to cut me off intentionally on the sidewalk so I’d acknowledge them. They’ve yelled slurs at me, walked directly behind me and slowed down when I slow down, etc.”

– lithenblithe

13. “Not very common, I usually go to work on foot, so I’m used to being alone in the streets at different times. I’m a bit more cautious at night, and avoid walking home alone if I get drunk at a party, for example. I avoid groups of men I don’t know.”

– AlHazard33 

14. “I think it’s gotten a lot worse everywhere during COVID. Most of my female friends where I live (major city) felt pretty comfortable traveling around alone before COVID, but a few of them have had so many negative encounters recently that they’ve started avoiding public transit. Or even just walking around unless absolutely necessary.”

– rhangx

15. “For me not so common, But my husband tells me when he walks the dog at night and he sees a woman walking all alone in the neighborhood he turns or crosses the street because he doesn’t want them to feel intimidated.”

– cuddlebugmommy

It’s unfortunate that so many women carry a sense of fear in the back of their minds while they’re out and about just trying to live their lives.