Berkshire

Woman assaulted on way home launches safety app

Sarah Murphy and Richard Kay Image copyright SARAH MURPHY
Image caption Sarah Murphy created the app alongside her boyfriend Richard Kay

A woman who was attacked while walking alone after a night out has launched an app to help people get home safely.

Sarah Murphy, 29, said four men tried to force her into a car in Clapham, south-west London.

After being told she "shouldn't have been out alone" at night, she said she wanted to help others "take back control of their safety".

Ms Murphy, from Ascot, Berkshire, said her app, Chaperhome, allows people to feel safe without feeling tracked.

The recruiter, who was 25 when she was attacked, said safety apps designed for lone walkers generally have a "big fear-factor".

She claims that instead of an "enormous red button which makes you feel quite afraid", hers allows users to not feel they are being constantly monitored.

How it works

In the free version of Chaperhome, users can nominate someone to get reminders to check they are okay.

Users can also alert nominated friends and family if they are feeling unsafe.

In the premium version, which requires a subscription of 99p a month, nominated people will be alerted if the user fails to arrive as expected.

Members of the public can log places they deem as unsafe for lone walkers.

Recollecting her attack on an August night, Ms Murphy said it was about 03:30 BST when she was bundled into the saloon car by the attackers.

She kept kicking at its window with her heels until she finally managed to free herself of their grip and get out of the car.

The men were trying to shove her back in when a bus approached and scared them away, she said.

Image caption Sarah Murphy has launched a new app aimed at protecting lone walkers

After making it home safely, Ms Murphy said: "I woke up the next day and my leg started to swell up, the shock and adrenaline had worn off and the reality started sinking in."

She visited the hospital and was told that the force she had been subjected to was akin to being crushed by a car.

Ms Murphy said the attack, which happened just 10 minutes from her home, left her feeling as if she was in "fight-or-flight mode".

She went to the police who were unable to find the attackers.

"When they realised that they weren't going to find the people [attackers] they said 'you shouldn't be walking at that time of night alone'", Ms Murphy said.

"That's not right. I was young, I was living the life that I should be living and I was told to not do that."

Ms Murphy said apparent victim-blaming had contributed to her wanting to create something to help others.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: "following a thorough investigation, no suspects could be identified."

Ms Murphy "was kept informed of the progress of the investigation and the outcome," it added.

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