The Right Amount of Panic

How Women Trade Freedom for Safety



  • Policy Press
  • July 2018
  • 978–1447342298
  • 216 × 138 mm
  • 192 pages


Have you ever thought about how much energy goes into avoiding sexual violence?

The work that goes into feeling safe goes largely unnoticed by the women doing it and by the wider world, and yet women and girls are the first to be blamed the inevitable times when it fails.

We need to change the story on rape prevention and ‘well-meaning’ safety advice, because this makes it harder for women and girls to speak out, and hides the amount of work they are already doing trying to decipher ‘the right amount of panic’.

With real-life accounts of women’s experiences, and based on the author’s original research on the impact of sexual harassment in public, this book challenges victim-blaming and highlights the need to show women as capable, powerful and skilful in their everyday resistance to harassment and sexual violence.


  • Introduction
  • Women, fear, and crime
  • It’s all part of growing up
  • The work of creating safety
  • The right amount of panic
  • Ordinary resistance


This is a condensed version of a large research study, intended for a wider audience than the in depth research. It won’t come as any shock to most women who experience life through a lens of ‘just surviving’ but it should be able to open eyes and minds to how society works and how structures actively work against women in many instances. A key read for anyone interested in gender politics, feminism or, for what it’s worth, ‘men’s rights’.


Vera-Gray presents an accessible account of narratives showcasing the different forms of fear of sexual violence in the lives of women and girls. Importantly for audiences new to the topic of sexual violence, Vera-Gray points to the role that habituation plays in the naturalization of sexual violence in our society and suggests that limiting our freedoms in exchange for ever elusive forms of safety is for naught.

Choice Connect

By re-interpreting women’s daily safety strategies as successful forms of resistance, this book presents fresh ideas for sexual violence prevention.

Holly Kearl · Author
50 Stories about Stopping Street Harassers

Finally a book which places sexual harassment at the centre of women’s everyday safety work, required reading for all who care about violence against women and who want to ensure that time is really up.

Liz Kelly · Professor
London Metropolitan University

In a world where women face an epidemic of harassment, violence and abuse, Vera-Gray shatters the illusion that the victim is to blame for her own assault. Powerful, moving and insightful.

Laura Bates · Author
Everyday Sexism

Eloquently debunks the myth that women should shoulder the responsibility for preventing the violence and harassment we face in the public spaces.

Frances O’Grady · The Baroness O’Grady of Upper Holloway