Following the abduction and murder of Eliza Fletcher, a Memphis teacher, women all over the southeast gathered to finish the run she began.
Stories like Fletcher’s are all too familiar. She started her morning run, taking a route she knew well, passing by the same buildings and crosswalks as she had every other morning, and everything was completely normal until a man forced her into the back of an SUV.
As girls, we grow up hearing these stories from the adults in our lives, usually with subtext attached. We’re told never to walk alone in the dark, to always be aware of our surroundings, to carry pepper spray everywhere, not to use headphones while we run, never to park next to a suspicious car, never to sit in our parked cars for any length of time, et cetera. Because we could end up like the women in these stories.
This is all sound advice, but I didn’t realize until recently how debilitating it feels growing up with such an air of normalcy surrounding violence against women. We’ve always got to be on the defensive, not just in dark alleyways late at night, but everywhere – in our cars, on our morning jogs, at the store, and in our own homes.
Eliza Fletcher didn’t live her life to become an allegory about how dangerous the world is for women, yet her name is now irrevocably tied to tragedy.
Violence against women is extremely normalized in our society. It’s on the news, in the shows we watch, the books we read, and the music we listen to. True Crime as a genre is everywhere we look, and it’s beloved by millions. It’s common for men to harm women; it’s treated like a fact of life. So, how do we change that? How do we create a world where we can raise our daughters without worrying that they’ll become statistics?
UN Women has a great list of actions to take, the first being to believe survivors. Now more than ever before, women are coming forward with their stories, and listening to them is the first step in being able to make change. I won’t repeat the entire list, but I’ll link it at the bottom of this article.
As stated in the aforementioned piece, “Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation that’s been perpetuated for decades. It’s pervasive, but it’s not inevitable, unless we stay silent.”