Advice needed for nonstop harassment

I’m writing in here because I am a victim of constant verbal abuse.

Every time I step out my front door I can count on some type of verbal harassment, whether it’s an invitation into a car or the more general “Hey baby, come over here”.

This post is not about a specific incident. I seriously need some advice on combatting harassment in a dangerous and overwhelming neighborhood.

Does anyone ever feel like they’re endangering themselves yelling back at these people? How do you keep up your stamina when you have to do it every single day?

Submitted by Maren

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4 Responses

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  1. Olivia says:

    I can soo relate to this situation! I’m almost scared to go out by myself because if I say something back, I feel like I’m endangering myself. People say/yell rude remarks at me every freaking time I go out and it’s scary and annoying. I think us girls just have to stand up for ourselves as long as we’re familiar with our surroundings… otherwise I don’t know.

  2. Erik K. says:

    Hi Maren,

    In response to your question, I have a few thoughts for you. Responding to street harassment and potentially dangerous encounters is not about yelling back. It is about establishing some sort of control over the situation. Yelling does not provide you with control. It is an emotional reaction that can easily escalate a situation.

    One of the major difficulties with SH is that you are uncertain about the intention of the harasser. Therefore, every situation feels like it could be potentially dangerous. What you need is a method that helps you determine which situations are potentially dangerous and which situations are “just” disrespectful.

    Having a method you can rely on will help reduce the stress created by your uncertainty. Lack of certainty leads to inaction. Inaction in the face of danger leads to more danger.

    The most effective and direct means to determine the intention of a harasser is to assertively tell him to stop his behavior. Assertiveness is not yelling or anger. It is a undeniable statement of your feelings. If the harasser stops then you have gained some control of the situation, if he continues, then now you know you are dealing with a potentially dangerous person. BUT NOW YOU KNOW. And as such you will act with more conviction.

    Assertiveness is designed to de-escalate situations. Anger escalates situations.

    Another important point is that you do not need to response to every single incident of harassment. You get to choose your battles. The power you gain from successfully confronting one harasser will transfer to others regardless of whether you choose to respond or not. What I am saying is that the inner conviction and knowledge that you are confident enough to confront a harasser is almost as good as actually doing it.

    Start with baby steps, assertively confront the weakest harasser (you will know which one). If it goes well, try another when YOU WANT TO.

    For more detailed information, please refer to my blog and website.

  3. juliette says:

    I find that yelling ‘UNLUCKY!’ really really loudly will help you. It isn’t always safe to flip people off, or whatever, but for some reason ‘UNLUCKY!’ is perversely satisfying. I don’t know why. It’s also better to yell at people when in a group than alone. I like to think that a response that lets everyone around know that something not okay just happens maybe protects someone else from being verbally harassed. Keep being strong.

  4. Erik K. says:

    I think yelling “UNLUCKY!” makes a lot of sense.

    #1. You are effectively saying to the harasser “You are unlucky”. Unlucky people are pitied by society. By saying that he is unlucky, you have refuted his power over you.

    #2. It doesn’t escalate the situation because he doesn’t know how to react to it. He might need to ponder it for a while in order to understand the implication.

    #3. The reality is that he is “unlucky”. If he was “lucky”, he would have better things to do, or would have figured out a more effective approach for getting attention from women.

    I think it is a great response.

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