My Story: From Fear and Isolation to Driving Force

Well, that I would have the great honor of receiving the SKAPA award in memory of Alfred Nobel was obviously not something I thought would happen when I sat at the small desk in my room 2,5 years ago, and was about to start my Master Thesis, which today is the foundation of Alarmwear. For many years, I had thought about creating something for women who experience insecurity in outdoor environments, but I never felt that I had the time over to do it thoroughly enough. When it was time for me to choose a topic for my Master Thesis, I finally felt that the time was right. The only roadblock left was that my examiner would approve of the topic, as our thesis normally needs be done towards an existing company. Luckily, my examiner made an exception here, for which I am eternally grateful. Thank you Åsa Wikberg-Nilsson at Luleå University of Technology for giving me this amazing opportunity!

 

To start a design process based on a need is what I love the most, like the product development nerd I am. Not knowing what the result will be. So, I took on the need: to create a solution for people who, like me, experience insecurity in outdoor environments. I belong to the huge crowd that has fallen victim to threats, harassment and persecution in outdoor environments. After one difficult experience, I isolated myself home for months, except when I absolutely had to go out. When I left the house, I only put on a black, oversized hoodie, pulled my hair back in a tassel and put a big cap over my hair. My conviction was that if I just made myself invisible, the risk of threats and assaults would be reduced. My experience is that this is a common thought, that we need to make ourselves invisible to not attract any attention. The reason is that we often think it is the attention that makes us more likely to be threatened and assaulted. Today I know better, and this is thanks to my knowledge of self- defense as well as the research I did during my Master Thesis that resulted in a report in total of 140 pages.

 

Now I know that the worst thing we can do is to seem invisible and act discreet, that unfortunately makes us more "attractive" to a perpetrator. However, it is not always that we have the courage to be different and do otherwise. Maybe never. You simply feel too afraid and just want to hide because you are so scared of being threatened and assaulted if you go out. You isolate yourself and limit your everyday life because of your fear. I know how it feels because I have been there myself. So, this was my motivation to create something that could give, both me and other women, that extra strength and authority that we do not always have by ourselves. I wanted to create something that will help you to walk with your head held up high, prepared, but also by being your voice if you should get paralyzed during an assault.

 

There are not enough words to describe how I feel over the fact that we even must think about this when we go out. Why must I be the one who thinks about how to make an assault more troublesome for a perpetrator? It is completely ridiculous and contradictory, but unfortunately it is also the reality we live in. We alarm our houses, we have locks on our bikes and other valuable possessions, we insure ourselves, our homes and our valuables – because we know that there are still people out there who cannot distinguish between mine and yours. If there had been a quick solution to eliminate all perpetrators, we would have done it by now, and preferably even earlier. Believe me, I know we still have a long way to go, maybe longer than a lifetime, but I also have the strength to fight for a change. I think we need to work on several fronts to stop the threats and violence in outdoor environments. But until then, we need to keep ourselves safe, which is why I created Alarmwear. My long-term goal? A world where no woman is afraid of violence and Alarmwear is no longer needed.

Linn Gerhardsson

Founder and CEO