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  • Writer's pictureDemi Lynch

Women Are Now Scared Of Their Local Shopping Centres, They Don't Want To Leave Their Homes




** If any of these conversations are triggering please contact 1800 RESPECT or Lifeline at 13 11 14. **


When going to my local Westfield, I need to wear headphones.


I get easily overwhelmed by crowds and loud noises so the headphones help me with that.


Shopping actually becomes a pleasant experience for me when I'm able to listen a podcast and seperate myself from the chaotic world around me.


However, after this past week, I've been avoiding my local shopping centre.


Last weekend six people were murdered at the Bondi Junction Westfield; six people remain in hospital.


With majority of the victims being women, it was no surprise to hear NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb say the attacker "focused on women and avoided the men."



Victims killed by the Bondi Junction attacker, (L-R) Ashlee Good, Dawn Singleton, Jade Young, Pikria Darchia, Faraz Tahir, Yixuan Cheng. Source: Daily Telegraph


Ever since these attacks, a stroll through my local shops doesn't seem so simple anymore.


Can I even wear my headphones at the shops anymore?


Would doing so impact my safety and ability to be vigilant of my surroundings?


How do I then manage my anxiety with crowds?


I know I may seem irrational thinking this way but can you blame me right now?


In less than three weeks, NINE WOMEN have been murdered in Australia.


I asked my followers if they've been feeling the same, and unsurprisingly I'm not the only one feeling scared right now.



 


"At the hairdressers and we were all discussing the attack. Later a man walked in - an extrovert, loud but friendly. We all jumped and everyone was hesitant about him entering the salon. We all discussed how we thought if he was bad-what would we do? Man was nice, I felt bad for thinking this way but we are all so jumpy." - B


"I feel oddly unsafe in my home for the first time ever." - S


"I bought a walking pad because I don’t feel safe walking by myself to the coffee shop anymore." - G


"It's my local mall and I'd been there earlier in the day. Honestly, it's made me double think going anywhere. There has been so much violence against women this year already. It's terrifying and no one is doing anything. I feel like I can't trust men in any space now." - D

"In the week before the attack, I was randomly spat on by a man in the street. I did not know him, I was collecting my lunch, scrolling my phone and only made eye contact with him as a reflex response after he yelled something random and inaudible near me. As soon as eye contact was made, he jumped and spat at me then continued walking. It happened in a crowded street in Naarm. No one approached me afterwards. I was very shaken and in tears. Now all I can think is how lucky I was that it was spit and not a knife." - L


Police outside Bondi Junction Westfield after the attack. Source: Reuters

"Skipped an event to stay home and avoid crowds." - J


"Haven't left the house. Can't even think about leaving the house. Terrified to take the kids out." - L


"I have been a paediatric nurse for 20 years, and all I can think about is that ED getting a call to inspect a 9 month old with stab wounds. I've worked in kids ED and I know the disbelief that call would have caused. In 20 years, I have never been to a training scenario that included stab wounds to an infant. Of course, we would know what to do but our mass casualty training would mainly be things like - multiple MVA'S, building collapse, or any sort of mass event like a pandemic. All I can think about is those nurses and doctors working on that baby, and what they are going through now. I've seen people do some horrible things to children, but I've never seen a deliberate stab wound in an infant. I cannot stop thinking about why our world is like this. I also can't stop thinking about the different way it's been reported cause he was a white guy. Mental illness does not make people do this, so I'm sick of hearing that. He decided that women were to blame for his issues and he decided that random strangers needed to die for his anger. How does this happen? More importantly, how does it keep happening? All over the world?

I just keep thinking - they just went shopping. - M


"I went to our local Westfield with my daughter and held her hand in a vice grip. She stayed on my left close to the walls with my body to the inside of the walkways to cover her. We avoided crowded sections. I had my eyes on her, other women, children and anyone (male or female) acting even remotely suss. We moved fast and didn’t linger in any stores." - B

"Left an all female gym and saw a man walking with a backpack - felt so scared so I ran to the car." - R


"Went to Westfield the other day. I was on high alert and noticed other people were actually off their phones more." - R


"My female work colleagues and I have all been avoiding shopping in person." - S


Tributes outside Bondi Junction Westfield. Source: Stephen Saphore / AAP

"I went to the supermarket the day after and found myself scanning for hiding spots." - B

"I went to a shopping centre with my boyfriend yesterday and he went to get a haircut so I went off to look at some shops alone. I had several men stare at me and two seperate groups of boys/young men make me feel uncomfortable. The Bondi murders made this experience feel magnified by a million because it reminded me that we as women can lose our lives at any time, at any place and even though it’s not all men, it’s always a man. How are we to know who the good ones are?" - K


"I had a meltdown in Kmart the following day thinking there would be a copycat." - V

"I'm buying keyrings that can also be used as self defence weapons. Sick of being scared all the time." - J


"I felt jumpy in the middle of the day going for a walk in my suburb with my dog and teen." - M


"Was walking the dog as usual, walked past a man, had a flash image of him stabbing me." - G


"I’ve been feeling very uneasy and it all hit me the other morning going to work. I usually have my keys in my hand (for security) but I was carrying other items. I got to the side of my car and fumbled in my bag, I heard two males voices from the opposite side of the underground carpark and suddenly felt an urgency to get in my car. I could feel my heart going crazy and I was getting emotional. As soon as I got in the car, I locked the doors and got out to the open. On the way to work I realised it was from the triggering events of the past days as well as a past incident that happened in my garage."


"Anxiety has been sky high while walking home from the station alone at night." - S

"I went to the food court on Monday for lunch in the Syd CBD. The evacuation alarm went off and 90% of people fled up the stairs in panic."- K


"I am on edge. I've had two guys move in next door to me, and I keep having thoughts of them hurting me." - H


"I don't want to go to a concert I've been looking forward to because I'm afraid." - S


"I haven't been to a shopping centre since the attack. I have little kids and I don't want to take them." - J



 

Header image source: ABC News / Timothy Ailwood

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