When heading home alone in the evening, many women reach for their key ring as a line of protection against possible attackers.
Wedging keys in between each finger, gripping a can of mace, or touching the cool metal of a rape whistle often makes a woman feel safer when put in a vulnerable situation.
Taylor Yocom, a 22-year-old senior at the University of Iowa, has carried mace and a rape whistle on her key ring for most of her college career. When a group of friends were discussing a recent string of sexual assaults around campus, all of the female students revealed heavy key chains.
With a final photo project on the horizon, Yocom decided to create a series, called “Guarded,” depicting what women carry to feel safe. The black-and-white images feature women with pepper spray, rape whistles, and heavy-duty rings.
“I want people to see how commonplace having to be ‘on guard’ can actually be,” Yocom told TakePart in an email on Wednesday. Her photos seek to raise awareness and put a face on the statistics of sexual assault.