Saturday, 28 October 2017
It has been an honour to ride for each and every one of these brave and beautiful women. Fighting my way up hills that took my last breath sometimes, was nothing, nowhere near close, to the agony and horror they endured before they breathed their last at the hands of some of the most brutal and wicked of men that have ever walked the Earth. I hate every one of the men who murdered these women. I have no sympathy for their "excuses". I care nothing for their mental health or drug issues. I don't care about their upbringing or their "provocation". No man should take the life of a woman. No woman should be trapped with a man who hates her. No mother or sister or child or friend should have that woman stolen from their lives.
Women fight hard to keep other women in this world. They staff refuges, answer helplines, march in streets, sit in each other's houses holding hands, meet with ministers, beg for funds, compile harrowing lists of dead women at great personal cost in order to prove male violence, ask online how women are doing, give advice, link arms, join shoulders, bleed together and cry together. Women do big things and women do small things. We do what we can. Women are fierce and mighty when they join with each other.
Some women are alone. Those are the women who die. We must get to those women somehow. We must teach them as girls. We must arm them for this war waged against them by violent and brutal men. We must teach them to recognise their abusers and know how to get help. There must be help for them to get. We need more than words from those in power. We need hard cash and resources. Women cannot escape their murderers on promises alone.
Men - look to other men. Look to yourselves. Take responsibility. This is male violence. It is cruel and it is ugly. Women can't stop this on our own. We don't need you to come to feminist space. We don't need you to wear a stupid t-shirt. Men need to stop hurting women - that's all. Stop other men hurting women. Refuse to listen to those men. Or stand with them. Or excuse them. Men need to learn that women are not possessions, or punchbags or power games. Women are not receptacles for your sperm, your anger, or your hatred. Tell men.
I have cried more times than I can remember as I learned the histories of these women and how they died. Some days I cried as I rode. Some nights I woke up remembering how they were murdered and, unable to sleep, planned the next bike ride in my head. Some rides I dreaded because the story was too much. Some stories were just too damned much.
Tomorrow I will begin to ride for the women murdered by men they loved in 2017. The bodies and the stories of male violence just don't stop coming it seems no matter how hard women work. We just keep working. We just keep going. I salute each and every woman who does anything that helps keep women alive. If it is your friend or the woman at work, or a neighbour, and you ask her how she is... I salute you. If it is the woman who keeps fighting to keep her refuge doors open... I salute you hard. If it is the women of The Freedom Programme or Women's Aid or any of the other domestic violence services... ah you women are fierce.....you don't need me for anything. But I love you anyway.
Mostly I think of the woman who sits and dreams of a life for herself and her children where she is not afraid..... the woman who thinks her life is over most days and that she is just waiting to die ... but in some stray and errant seconds she drifts into a world and a life she knows exists somewhere. The life she should be living. I send love to that woman and hope she keeps on living until she gets that life.
"The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still... for the caged bird sings of freedom"......Maya Angelou
.................keep singing sister. We can hear you. Just keep singing.
Ride #1 Katrina O Hara - Stabbed to death by her ex husband outside her place of work as she closed the shop. He had lain in wait for her.
Ride #2 Georgina Symonds - strangled with twine after she "dumped" the man who repeatedly bought her body to use for sex and told her he loved her. Prostitutes lives matter too.
Ride #3 Lisa Jane Lyttle - strangled to death by her husband with a mobile phone cord. He was annoyed afterwards that he lost all his friends.
Ride #4 Andrea Lewis Stamped to death by her husband who then dragged her outside and left her to be found in the street half-naked with 41 different injuries. There was a history of him covering her in bruises.
Ride #5 Guida Rufino - had her throat slashed and was stabbed in the chest 4 times by an ex- partner she had told to leave. He tied up her friend who had come to help her so that she heard her best friend die, screaming and begging for her life.
Ride #6 Elidona Demiraj stabbed to death by her partner - neighbours heard her screaming and a loud thud.
Ride #7 Geraldine Newman - Beaten to death with a hammer whilst her children lay bleeding to death upstairs after her husband stabbed them.
Ride #8 Caroline Andrews - Strangled to death by her husband, who had defrauded her dementia suffering father out of more than £260,000. He then checked into a hotel room with a woman he intended to prostitute after buying knives, Prosecco and condoms. He lied to their 4 children about her death.
Ride #9 Bethany Hill - tortured by two men - one of whom was her ex-partner. They bound a Barbie Doll, supposed to resemble her, with duct tape just as they did her before repeatedly slashing her wrists as neighbours heard her screaming.
Ride #10 - Sheila Jefferson - brutally murdered by her brother-in-law. 17 blunt force injuries to her face and also shot in the face.
Ride #11 - For Kerry Gascoigne who was strangled to death by her partner.
Ride #12 - for Leanne Wall was head-butted and then strangled to death by her ex-partner
Ride #13 - for Maria Byrne whose husband doused her in white spirit and then turned the gas on so she caught alight. She lived for 30 minutes.
Ride #14 - for Rose Hill who was strangled to death by her grandson who also killed her daughter.
Ride #15 - for Julie Hill who was axed in the face, had her teeth punched out and was then drowned in the bath by her nephew who had also murdered her mother.
Ride #16 - For Lisa Reynolds - stabbed 17 times by her boyfriend as she begged him to stop because the knife was blunt as her children watched. She screamed "The knife is blunt! Stop it Baz."
Ride #17 - For Natasha Bradbury who was murdered by her ex who cracked her ribs, her neck, injured her brain and caused heart injuries.
Ride #18 for Julie Archer - doused in petrol and set alight by her brother. She told a nurse he did it just before she died.
Ride #19 For Gemma Stevens - her boyfriend stamped on her head 11 times, stabbed her and then set her house on fire.
Ride #20 for Dawn Green killed by her husband who then hanged himself.
Ride #21 for Carrie Ann Izzard who was fatally stabbed 29 times in the neck by her ex
Ride #22 for Lyndsey Smith – who was stabbed to death in the stomach by her ex who went off out having a nice time as she died after years of abuse.
Ride #23 for Lynn Freeman who was stabbed by her partner who murdered his ex partner, Jodie Betteridge, just minutes later.
Ride #24 for Jodie Betterridge who was stabbed 30 times in the head and 45 times in the torso – a total of 132 times altogether. The blade of the knife of the man’s knife broke off with the ferocity. He stabbed her on her front garden in front of her 3 children, one of whom ran around in the sun screaming and covered in her blood.
Ride #25 for Joanna Trojniak who was stabbed 6 times by a partner she was trying to leave. He than stabbed himself a tiny bit and ran into the street crying as an attempt to escape justice.
Ride #26 for Amina Begum who was killed by her son after “multiple incised wounds” according to the coroner.
Ride #27 for Natasha Sadler who was stabbed through the head and suffered other stab wounds after a man who lived in the same house was unhappy that she turned on a tap and his shower temperature changed.
Ride #28 for Laura Marshall who was murdered by her ex after months of abuse. He left her in a bath of her own blood, raped and covered in bruises.
Ride #29 for Tracy Cockrell whose partner strangled her and then set her on fire.
Ride #30 for Helen Bailey who was targeted during her grief for her dead husband and then manipulated by a new partner who then suffocated her and buried her in a cesspit under the garage – allowing police to search for her body for months. He killed her dog too and buried it alongside her.
Ride #31 for Leigh Ann Mahachi who was stabbed 40 times by her ex in the street outside her house. Her mother heard her screams as she died and came out to try to stop her blood with towels as her ex partner ran away.
Ride #32 for Jean Ryan who was stabbed to death by her husband.
Ride #33 for Nasreen Khan who was a care worker, stabbed to death with her 5 children in the house, because her husband did not like that she visited men as part of her job.
Ride #34 for Fay Daniels who was stabbed 17 times including 4 to her face, 8 to her neck and had 2 broken ribs. Her ex then dumped her in the back yard.
Ride #35 for Xin Xin Lei repeatedly stabbed by her husband.
Ride #36 For Louise O' Brien whose husband strangled her to death then left a heart-shaped chocolate on the pillow next to her dead body.
Ride #37 For Natalie Hemming whose husband found out she was going to leave him and beat her to death. Her 6 year old son crept out of bed and saw his mother during the murder but was frightened he would be told off. Her husband then dumped her body face down in a wood to be found 3 weeks later and took the children to the zoo.
Ride #38 For Iris Owens whose son strangled, kicked and slashed at her with a chainsaw as she hung out washing on the line in her garden.
Ride #39 For Becky Morgan who was on a date with a man who "allowed" her to fall into the sea without raising the alarm or helping as she drowned. He went off to the pub instead.
Ride #40 for Maria Mbombo whose husband stabbed her to death after an internet search for "the most painful place to stab someone".
Ride #41 for Marina Erte beaten severely by her jealous ex who then drowned her by holding a shower attachment to her face.
Ride #42 for Marina Nolan whose ex slashed her throat and strangled her with a TV flex. He put their 2 year old son out into the street to wander then returned with 3 knives and stabbed her to death leaving her to be found by her other son. (Marina was murdered in 2002 but I was asked by her friend to honour her death)
Ride #43 For Sonita Nijhawan whose husband axed her in the head 40 times and also stabbed her 78 times because she wanted a divorce. She took her rings off the day before and he replaced them after she was dead. He was jailed for manslaughter because "depressed" but not too depressed and "out of control" to search "softest part of the human female skull" the day before.
Ride #44 for Dawn Rhodes. Her husband was cleared of murder. I've included her in this list because he slashed her throat. He had been stalking her, checking her phone and Facebook and found she was seeing another man. He had harassed her and her friends via Facebook posts from a fake profile. It is sad that she was the one labeled "unstable" and he walked free.
Ride #45 for Andrena Douglas - police arrived to tell her her partner was injured in a caravan fire- only to find her murdered.
Ride #46 for Karen Hales - bludgeoned to death with a hammer by her daughter's ex-partner. He raped and murdered her daughter Jade at the same time.
Ride #47 for Jade Hales - ex- partner broke in and raped her, murdered her and then also murdered her mother and dog.
Ride #48 for Keziah Flux-Edmunds - aged 6. Killed by her father to torture her mother, his estranged wife. He drowned Keziah and her pet dogs and lay them all on the bed for her mother to find alongside a letter which said " You've taken everything and I will leave you with just memories."
Ride #49 for Helen Fraser - stabbed multiple times by her partner in front of her daughter as neighbours heard her screaming.
Ride #50 for Jean Irwin whose husband hit her with a hammer as she slept and then strangled her.
Ride #51 for Nijole Sventeckiene whose partner slit her throat with a single 5 inch long incision and left her naked crying for help.
Ride #52 for Agnieszka Szymura who was stabbed by her partner 30 times as neighbours watched. There was evidence of past abuse and injuries.
Ride #53 for Sandra Gill. There was clear evidence of past abuse at the hands of her husband and yet a coroner could not be certain that her severe head injury was inflicted by him. He said she may have "fallen off the toilet". Grown women can sit on toilets. And beds. Even when drunk.
Ride #54 for Sarah Nash who was strangled by her ex-partner who was allowed to walk free just months before to attend a "relationship course".
Ride #55 was for Jules Parkin who was killed this year. It was so shocking to know that her class would be going into school to hear that their teacher had been murdered. I included her at the request of a friend but will also ride for her again.
Ride #56 Alison Muncaster shot by her husband as she sat on the sofa.
Ride #57 for Emma Baum whose ex-partner battered her to death with a crowbar and then urged her mother to come and "find her" with him.
Ride #58 for Claire Hart shot by her husband days after she left him. He left a note "revenge is a dish best served cold" he also shot her daughter alongside her after lying in wait for them. He reloaded his gun between rounds.
Ride #59 for Charlotte Hart whose father shot her alongside her mum because her mum had left him days before. His note also said "Karma is a bitch". Charlotte's last words were "It was my dad who shot me". Brave to the last.
Ride #60 for Tracey Gabriel who was stabbed repeatedly by a male "friend" who also stabbed another friend of hers.
Ride #61 for Samia Shahid whose ex-husband raped her and strangled her as he disapproved of her second marriage. Her father assisted him.
Ride #62 for Nicola Haworth suffocated by her ex-partner who left her 9 month old baby screaming in the house beside her body.
Ride #63 for Lenuta Iona Haidemac - prostituted by her partner to another man who raped and murdered her. He strangled her, stabbed her twice, punctured her nipples and wrote a name on her body.
Ride #64 for Margaret Mayer whose husband bludgeoned her to death with a lamp.
Ride #65 for Hannah Pearson whose partner strangled her to death after watching porn. She did not consent to the porn-influenced "sex" either the judge found.
Ride #66 for Gergana Prodanova murdered by her ex-partner who was furious that she refused to go back to him and was beginning a new relationship. He put her naked body in a suitcase and dragged it through the town centre before dumping her to decompose beside a railway line. She had endured years of abuse.
Ride #67 for Lynne Braund who had a deep fear of fires. Her 18 month old daughter had died in a house fire in 1990 and she still suffered the trauma of that when her ex-partner squirted her with lighter fluid and set her on fire. Then left as she burned.
Ride #68 for Donna Williamson whose boyfriend accused her of sleeping with other men so he stabbed her in the heart and lung. She had tried to call the police and he could be heard screaming "You are dying. You are dying mate. Your life is slipping away from you. What you done to me you c*nt, you f*cking deserve it."
Ride #69 for Xixi Bi beaten to death by her partner. She had 41 injuries including a broken jaw and ribs. Paramedics found her body so bruised they thought it was a result of her being dead for days not hours.
Ride #70 for Jean Constant asphyxiated with a plastic bag by her husband .
Ride #71 for Karen Arnold was murdered by her husband who stabbed her multiple times.
Ride #72 for Alison Jane Farr-Davies beaten to death by her boyfriend and thrown downstairs naked. Her body was hit with such force that there was a penetrating cardia injury - similar injuries are only seen in war as a result of shrapnel, grenades, mortar bombs and explosions.
Ride #73 for Hayley Dean whose partner bludgeoned her to death with a lump hammer and then slept next to her body. He put her head under the pillow. When she was found she had a cigarette in her mouth and a lighter in the other hand.
Ride #74 for Elizabeth Bowe whose brother murdered her because she was going to accuse him of rape. She was found with a dressing gown around her neck and naked from the waist down as he sat close by smoking a cigarette.
Ride #75 for Melinda Korosi whose ex-partner raped her 3 times before gouging a hole in her neck with a sharpened rock. Police deemed her high risk after she had recently accused him of rape.
Ride #76 for Nasreem Buksh whose estranged husband bashed her skull in as she slept. The children reported that he never spoke to her and hadn't for years.
Ride #77 for Natasha Wake whose partner stabbed her 11 times with an 8 inch knife. He stabbed her with such force that 6 of the wounds went through her torso and out of her back. He then wrapped her in a duvet and put her under the stairs telling her daughter that the blood on the walls was ketchup. He was unhappy that she had found out he was being investigated for sexual assault.
Ride #78 for Jaqueline Pattenden whose partner stabbed her to death through her chest in his home.
Ride #79 for Mandy Gallear whose husband stabbed her as she unloaded the dishwasher because she had told him she was leaving him
Ride #80 for Vicky Bance whose husband saw her talking to another man so he stabbed her 23 times with a commando knife. She had 16 stab wounds to her chest, 14 deeply penetrating her heart and both lungs and any one of them could have been fatal with the maximum depth of one wound being 20cm.
Ride #81 for Sophie Smith whose boyfriend beat her for 4 hours breaking 11 of her ribs, her eye socket and her nose.
Ride #82 for Alice Ruggles who was stalked increasingly and relentlessly before eventually being stabbed to death by an ex partner who had already terrorised and abused her. She felt "palmed off" by police. He eventually broke in to her home and slashed her throat from ear to ear. He stabbed her at least 6 times. Even as he waited to murder her he was on his phone arranging a Tinder date for afterwards.
Ride #83 for Lucy Jones murdered by ex partner in a sustained and brutal attack with a total of 90 separate injuries.
Ride #84 for Belen Tripp whose husband stabbed her 24 times with some of those wounds 14cm deep and damaging her shoulder blades with the ferocity.
Ride #85 for Deeqa Ibrahim who kindly visited her ill husband before he returned to Somalia. He grabbed her and locked them both in the bathroom where he began stabbing her to death.
Ride #86 for Rebecca Johnson stabbed to death by her boyfriend who escaped and pretended to be suffering from hypothermia.
Ride #87 for Linda Ordinans was found murdered after her husband called police to report her murder shortly before killing himself.
Ride #88 for Andraya Webb told her boyfriend on a night out that their relationship was over after he had been violent towards her too many times. She assured friends it would be ok for her to go home even after he had become aggressive. Her ex returned and broke into her home. He hit her with an iron. He stamped on her face so hard he left a boot mark. He poured paint down her throat and put gas canisters between her thighs before setting her on fire. She had 45 different injuries and was breathing when she was set alight. He said "Some of us have angels and some of us have demons. Tonight the demons won."
Ride #89 for Umida Eshboboeva strangled to death by her husband just before Christmas. Always an enhanced period of risk for victims.
Ride #90 for Angela Best was murdered by a man at his home. Few other details are available.
Ride #91 for Claire Paton was beaten to death by her ex-partner - the excuse offered was that he had tinnitus. He also attacked her son with a nail gun after throttling her. No excuse is acceptable for killing a woman. Not even poorly ears.
Ride #92 for Hayley Wall who was lured into a "relationship" with her abusive uncle. He then murdered her because she refused to sexually touch him in public in front of her friends. He smashed her skull in with a television.
Ride #93 for Nicola Woodman murdered on Christmas Day 2016 by her partner who stabbed her in the chest. He also battered her with a pickaxe handle. A judge told him "You are not ill. You are wicked."
Ride #94 for Tracy McPartland beaten to death over a 2 day period by her son who had history of abusing her. She had a total of 29 separate injuries. The judge said "she simply took the beating and did not seek help". No woman expects the child they give birth to will one day beat the life from them. It is the ultimate betrayal.