I had a nightmare last night. Like a full on shaking, trying to wake myself up nightmare. It was so so strange, I don’t ever remember having a nightmare since childhood; the odd bad dream, yes but not a nightmare.
Earlier in the day I had been chatting with my sister and the Sarah Everard case came up in conversation.
She stands out as we all know, because her killer was a policeman.
A trusted member of society.
The person in uniform that we train our children to go to if they ever get lost or feel in danger.
It was a short conversation, maybe two minutes, but it was obviously still swirling in my head as I slept.
The nightmare started with me walking down the street in the dark, going to my imaginary apartment, arms full of baggage (and my pillow!), when two men walked past me…
As I do in real life, by day or by night, if a man or men walk past me when I’m alone, I looked over my shoulder to make sure they had kept going in the opposite direction.
This time they hadn’t…
They were headed back towards me, started shouting abuse at me, dragged my things out of my arms and wrestled me to the ground.
Then the nightmare shifts to me being inside my imaginary apartment, panicking to block the doors and windows.
I was trying to keep a different man out.
I thought I had succeeded, when I heard a noise under the bed.
I looked under, and there he was, pushing his monstrous head out through an air vent.
At that point I shook myself awake and checked the time on my phone to get a grip of reality.
My other half was sound asleep and needed to be up at 5am so I didn’t wake him, but I wanted to.
I was absolutely shook.
It felt to real and so terrifying.
All I could think about as I lay there safe in my bed, was the countless women and girls who never made it home to their beds.
Do men have these nightmares?
Do they have deep-seeded fears for their safety as they go about their daily lives?
Do they feel sick to their stomachs when they see yet another headline involving a missing or murdered girl?
Is this a women only nightmare?
The world has never seemed so scary and dangerous.
How do we prepare the next generation so that they never have to have these fears and nightmares?
Do we tell our girls to stay covered up and stay indoors?
Do we tell them to shut up and not draw attention to themselves?
I don’t know.
I have two boys and I am trying my best to instill values of respect for everyone, not just girls.
I am trying to get rid of the notions that they already have (at age 6 & 4) that girls are not as strong as boys.
I am trying to close the gap of boys vs girls toys and clothes and sports and what not.
Is this enough to fix our society which is obviously broken?
Maybe if we all do it, it will be.
It was stressful enough to deal with one nightmare about this issue, never mind the trauma caused for people who have to experience it in real life.
And the trauma of those left behind.
We shouldn’t have nightmares like this. But equally we shouldn’t get desensitized to it either, that would be even more worrying.
Parents of girls, what are you doing in an effort to make sure these horror stories don’t become part of your narrative?
Parents of boys, what else can we do?
It’s a difficult conversation, but more people need to have it.