Whenever a story of a woman disappearing comes up on the news, it's a terrifying time to be a woman. Most recently, 33-year-old Sarah Everard was reported missing last Wednesday and is still yet to be found with her last known location being Poynders road, from the junction with Cavendish Road, in the direction of Tulse Hill.
In response, police have reportedly been telling women in the Clapham area not to go out alone at night. It's the classic, not-good-enough response and it reeks of victim-blaming, but it's also sits within the advice women have been following for decades.
According to a 2019 study by YouGov, at least one in three women consciously take steps to avoid being assaulted on a day to day basis. These include not travelling alone, informing others of our whereabouts, not drinking as much, dressing a certain way, minimising interactions with strangers, having a phone prepared, the list goes on and on. (That's not to say anything like that has happened to Sarah, who is still being treated as a missing person).
We shouldn't have to change our behaviour, but we do - and one of those includes downloading personal safety apps on our phones. In a world where simply leaving the house can be terrifying for a woman, they provide a sense of security that many of us need just to feel less anxious living our lives.
'I have two personal safety apps on my phone,' says Lily*, 26 from London. 'I just like my friends and family to know where I am at all times, it's something I'm constantly thinking about when I'm walking alone. I know that in a dangerous situation, they might prove futile - but they also might not, and I need that hope just to get out the door sometimes.'
With that in mind, we've gathered some of the best personal safety apps you can download today - even if it's just to make you that little bit less anxious right now.
The best personal safety apps
Personal Safety Apps - Grazia
The most comprehensive of the safety apps; bSafe allows users to get it's premium standard features free; unlike a lot of other apps. It has an alarm, the ability to share your location with friends, a map to locate your friends on, a way to request your friend track your journey, a button that allows you to receive a fake phone call.
Created for families, Life360 allows you to create 'circles' where you can add friends or family members into specific groups who will then have access to your location all the time - as long as your location is turned on on your phone. The app can send real-time alerts when you arrive or leave destinations, as well as having a 'Safety' section where you can tap a 'Help Alert' which tells those in your circle that you feel unsafe 10 seconds after pressing.
You can use this one even if you don't have a smartphone as you don't need to actually download an app. All you do is sign up, text Kitestring a time for them to check in on you (say you're going on a run; text them '20m'). They'll text you at the allotted time and all you need to do is text them back to say you're OK. If you don't they'll send an alert to your pre-determined emergency contact.
One Scream is voice-activated, designed for moments of extreme distress, where your instinctive reaction is to scream. When One Scream is on and detects a panic scream it activates an alarm on your phone. You hear a loud siren, the phone vibrates and lights flash. A notification pops up to give you 20 seconds to press it and cancel the alarm if you need to.After 20 seconds, both an automated voice call and a text message is sent to your 'Helpers' to deliver the One Scream alert, which includes your name and location.Simply keep your phone nearby, with the app on, and One Scream will do the rest. It even works from the bottom of your handbag.
When this app's red panic button is pressed it sends a Google Maps link to the user's emergency contacts. It also can access users' Twitter accounts in order to tweet emergency messages.