I was walking with my crutches at about 7pm in a busy area to get to the supermarket. At the time I was about 26. I have a chronic illness which sometimes requires me to do this. The street had a steady amount of traffic and a lot of footfall. I walked past a man who was shouting at seemingly nothing. After I walked past he started shouting at me. Using slurs and that he was going to hurt me. Started shouting rape threats. No one stopped. He started following me. I started walking as fast as I could but knew I wouldn’t get to the supermarket before he reached me. People walk past looking concerned but no one stops even when I ask. I see a church and there are lights on. I get to the door and get in. As I try to shut the door and lock it the man crashes in on top of me and shouts that he’s going to hurt me. Luckily about 4 people run out of the church hall and immediately remove the man from on top of me. They lock him in a room and ask me if I’m ok and if I want to call the police. Someone says that they are going to sit him with some tea and try and calm him down. By this point I’m really crying. I just needed to leave. I know I needed to call the police but all I could do in that moment is leave the church and get onto the first bus away from the situation. I haven’t been comfortable using my crutches in public since and the incident happened 5 years ago.
Criminologist and Co-Director of Centre for Gender Studies at University of Sussex