I will never forget the day I went to knock on the door of a Dyce woman who had been raped by a stranger on her way home from a night out.

It’s a pretty unusual occurrence in Aberdeen. In my 12 years of reporting at the paper, I can count the number of spontaneous attacks on women on two hands.

The victim’s grandad let me in and told me she had just popped to the shops. Around five minutes later, she returned, took one look at me sitting on her sofa, chatting to this man I didn’t know, and ushered me up the stairs.

She went into her top drawer and handed me what I thought was a small pocket torch.

“It’s a rape alarm,” she said, “Please promise me you won’t leave without it in future.”

She was particularly concerned about the nature of my job; she felt I was putting myself at risk on a daily basis by essentially approaching strangers. But I was rather blasé about the whole thing. Attacks on women across the north-east were rare, after all.

I must admit, I don’t carry that alarm now, although I did for a while after. Her story at the time had an impact on me but, gradually, I forgot to be scared.

I live in Aberdeen city centre and walk home after nights out all the time. I usually don’t give it a second thought. I even do it with my earphones in.

When I lived in London, I was always taught to be more cautious, but, even then, I probably didn’t take the precautions women are advised to.

That was until last week.

The news of Jill Barclay’s horrific attack reignited the fear I had felt following my chat with the woman who gave me the rape alarm. I walked home from the office late on Wednesday night, and called my mum.

Making my way along Union Street, it was busy enough, but there were a lot of men around, some who had had too much to drink.

Jill’s murder has shocked our city because you never expect something like that to happen here, never mind in Dyce. But it did.

After the tragic death of Sarah Everard more than 18 months ago, the whole country grieved publicly. And thousands of women came out to protest.

People couldn’t get their heads around the fact that “she was just walking home”, and it turned into a nationwide campaign.

In contrast, I find it staggering the lack of media attention Jill’s death has received, outside of Aberdeen. She, too, was just walking home.

Yet, no national campaign condemning violence towards women has been launched in honour of her. I would hazard a guess that most people in London are not even aware of what happened.

Jill’s story deserves to be told. She was someone’s partner, mother, friend, daughter and colleague. Her death is something the community of Dyce will take time to recover from.

While these incidents in our city are rare, rare is still far too often an occurrence.

I do not have the answers as to how to fix this; I wish I did.

Jill’s story serves as a reminder that the societal issue which kickstarted national outrage more than 18 months ago still remains

And, as a woman living in today’s society, I truly believe we shouldn’t have to go about our lives feeling fearful and vulnerable. But we should have awareness.

When people around the world were paying their respects to Sarah Everard, I am sure many thought: “I’m glad I stay in Aberdeen, nothing like that would happen here.” The truth is, it can happen anywhere.

It is important that as many people as possible know what happened to Jill. Her story serves as a reminder that the societal issue which kickstarted national outrage more than 18 months ago still remains.

I’m sure that when Jill left the house that night to go to a gig, she never in a million years thought she wouldn’t return home. It is unfathomable that she was attacked so brutally, just yards from her home.

After this incident, I’m certainly not feeling blasé about my personal safety – and I’m not sure I’ll be able to forget to be scared ever again.

Rebecca Buchan is City and Shire Team Leader for The Press & Journal and Evening Express

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Rebecca Buchan: Shocking murder of Jill Barclay should be talked about nationwide

51 49 99
27.09.2022

I will never forget the day I went to knock on the door of a Dyce woman who had been raped by a stranger on her way home from a night out.

It’s a pretty unusual occurrence in Aberdeen. In my 12 years of reporting at the paper, I can count the number of spontaneous attacks on women on two hands.

The victim’s grandad let me in and told me she had just popped to the shops. Around five minutes later, she returned, took one look at me sitting on her sofa, chatting to this man I didn’t know, and ushered me up the stairs.

She went into her top drawer and handed me what I thought was a small pocket torch.

“It’s a rape alarm,” she said, “Please promise me you won’t leave without it in future.”

She was particularly concerned about the nature of my job; she felt I was putting myself at risk on a daily basis by essentially approaching strangers. But I was rather blasé about the whole thing. Attacks on women across the north-east were rare, after all.

I must admit, I don’t carry that alarm now, although I did........

© Evening Express


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