London (CNN)The disappearance of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, while walking home in London one evening has sparked an outpouring on social media from women sharing their own experiences of sexual assault and harassment.
Sarah Everard case prompts outpouring from women sharing stories of abuse and harassment on UK streets
Many have also exchanged notes on the habitual precautions they take to try to stay safe when they walk alone -- and voiced their anger and frustration that this feels necessary.
The fact that a serving Metropolitan Police officer has been arrested on suspicion of Everard's kidnap and murder has only added to the sense of threat.
The officer sustained a head injury and was hospitalized while in custody on Wednesday police told CNN. The suspect has since been discharged from hospital and returned to police custody.
Police searching for Everard, who was last seen on March 3 in Clapham, south London, have found what appear to be human remains in woodland in Kent, the force confirmed late Wednesday.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick pointed out that it was "incredibly rare for women to be abducted" in the streets.
But, she added, "I completely understand that despite this, women in London and the wider public -- particularly those in the area where Sarah went missing -- will be worried and may well be feeling scared."
Police making door-to-door inquiries in the case reportedly warned women not to venture out alone, prompting some to comment that this approach only fuels the culture of blaming victims.
A "Reclaim These Streets" vigil has been organized via Facebook for 6 p.m. Saturday on Clapham Common, a green space Everard is believed to have crossed soon after 9 p.m. as she walked toward her home in Brixton. "This is a vigil for Sarah, but also for all women who feel unsafe, who go missing from our streets and who face violence every day," the organizers said. Attendees are urged to follow Covid-19 safety guidelines and must wear a face covering.
The deluge of social media reaction provides ample evidence of women's concerns and are testament to the toll that a lifetime of vigilance takes on women's well-being.
From taking a longer route home to avoid poorly lit streets to factoring in the possible need to flee as they dress for a night out, women are undertaking constant risk assessments when they walk alone, especially at night.
"For all those women who text their mates to let them know they got home safe, who wear flat shoes at night so they can run if they need, who have keys in their hands ready to use, it's not your fault," tweeted Anna Yearley, joint executive director of legal action NGO Reprieve. "It never is. So many of us have stories of being assaulted. It's never our fault."
Another Twitter user, Linda Redford, responded: "This a constant preoccupation of women and girls of all ages; I am 74 and still go through the mental risk assessment each time I am out on my own especially, but not exclusively, at night. I taught the same to my daughters. Fear passed on from woman to girl thru generations."
Television and radio presenter Shelagh Fogarty posted a list of instances of sexual harassment starting at age 10 and continuing into her 50s, from being followed home from school to being targeted by a stalker. "This is what women face. This and worse. Throughout our lives. It's sh*t. It's draining. It's frightening. It has to stop," she said.
Other women responded with their own, similarly depressing lists. After posting hers, Eleanor Johnston, a clinical psychologist, added: "My early experiences are by no means unusual. What is important to remember is that 'men' are not inherently dangerous! Some men are. If this conversation can help all of us start a convo about callling out this behaviour, we would all feel a lot safer."