‘Walking alone at night isn’t worth the risk’: Students open up about female safety in Sheffield
‘Even though I have a game plan, I still feel vulnerable’
TW- Harassment, Assault
In the last month the news and social media have been consumed with reports of drink spiking cases and sexual harassment claims. Living in Sheffield at the moment as a woman doesn’t feel very safe. If we’re not worried about walking home at night we’re scared to venture to the clubs in fear of being spiked. A fortnight ago, Five girls were said they were spiked in Roar and other publications have reported a rise in drink spiking cases in the city.
The Sheffield Tab reached out on Instagram and spoke to some brave students who wanted to share their stories.
One female Hallam student reported being followed home whilst walking alone on Eyre Street in the city centre. She was approached by a man who appeared from a side street. The man said she had dropped something out of her pocket and when she ignored him and carried on walking, he proceeded to follow her.
As he followed her he kept shouting at the woman to go towards him. Despite her efforts to get away from the situation, he started to run after her and she could hear him chasing her so she sprinted up the street. Finally, he gave up and the she luckily managed to escape to safety into the nearest club, where they got her a taxi home.
The Hallam student said: “We shouldn’t have to get taxi’s just because there are some people in the world that make it unsafe for us [women] but, walking alone at night isn’t worth the risk.”
South Yorkshire Police commented on the incident: “It was reported the woman was walking along Eyre Street, around 11.15pm on Sunday 26th September when an unknown man began following her and making comments towards her. The woman went to a club on Eyre Street, where she was helped to get a taxi home away from the man. Police are now investigating and enquiries are ongoing.”
Followed in broad daylight
Another Sheffield student said she was followed by a male stranger whilst shopping on the Moor in broad daylight.
She said: “He was walking behind my sister. I decided to speed walk to see if he’d follow me which he did. We nearly ran around the shop. I looked over the shelves on my tip toes and he was doing the same looking for us.”
Catcalled for exercising
Other Sheffield women shared how they are catcalled daily when going for a run.
A Sheffield female said: When I was going on a run, I wore leggings and a long sleeved top. When I went outside, there was group of drunk men and they started shouting ‘Does your dad know you’re going out like that?’
“It made me go straight back inside but, now I wish I’d told him to f**k right off. Thank you to the lad who actually did this for me.”
Another girl shared a similar story and said that when she was out on a run “at least three different cars wolf whistled me.”
Walking home at night
Walking home late is something that lots of women fear. Three female students shared some uncomfortable experiences they’ve had while walking home late in Sheffield.
One female student told us: “I was once walking home at night on West Street and a car slowed down asking if I needed a lift. I said I was fine and he said ‘get in the car’.
“When I refused, I went up to group of lads I asked them to pretend know me. They did and only then did the car drive off.”
Another woman said: “I walk home from work at 11.30pm latest and sometimes feels really sketchy. I carry my ID and a rape alarm, plus my bag – I keep valuables in my pockets so I can throw the bag and run easily if I need to.
“I wish I didn’t have to take these precautions. Even though I have a game plan, I still feel vulnerable.Whenever I walk home past a group of men they often come towards me leering and shouting.”
A third Sheffield student said: “When I was in first year I was walking home alone from Code (I only lived in Exchange Works). A guy in a yellow three doored car pulled up next to me and said ‘You booked a taxi, get in’ and was trying to get me in the car.
“I told him to ‘leave me alone because I know you’re not a taxi’ and eventually he got it and sped off. It could have been a much worse situation if I was more drunk.”
Nights out and drink spiking
In recent weeks, shared posts on social media have shown a rise in drink spiking cases in Sheffield. A fortnight ago, Five female students were said they were spiked at the weekly sports night Roar, held at the SU.
One victim of the SU spiking said: “I was so confused because I’d never heard of anyone getting spiked at the Foundry before. It used to be such a safe place. It made me really nervous to go clubbing again.”
Sheffield SU published on their website: “Although this is rare in our venues, we would like to reassure students of our commitment to ensuring everyone can have a safe night out.”
Another Sheffield student said she had been spiked on West Street a couple of weeks ago: “I was spiked on West Street last Saturday with about ten friends. We were taking every precaution possible.”
If you have been impacted by these stories or need support, please contact the services below:
- Supportline – 01708765200, [email protected]
- Lifecentre – 08088020808 (freephone) 07717989022 (textline)
If you are walking home and feel unsafe or threatened, please contact:
- Victim support – victim support.org.uk
- Rights of women – rightsofwomen.org.uk
- Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (SRASAC) – 01142412766
- SSiD (UoS students)
More support is available through university support services:
- UOS Support Service https – www.sheffield.ac.uk/study/support/discrimination-harassment
- Sheffield Hallam Support Service – https://www.shu.ac.uk/wellbeing
Feature photo credits: Grooveland Designs