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My story may technically fall under “domestic violence” but I think once you air your dirty laundry in public it deserves come under censure.
I was walking through my boyfriend’s apartment complex, headed towards his unit when I heard angry screaming echoing through the parking lot. I stopped walking, wondering if I could make out what was going on and didn’t have to look far before I noticed a girl sitting behind the wheel of a parked car, sobbing her eyes out. All the yelling was coming from her passenger seat. I was immediately concerned even though I didn’t know what was going on, but it looked and sounded like she was getting verbally attacked. So I head back to my car, hoping to buy some time and see if I needed to call authorities. Some scary guy is walking in and out of her car, screaming insults at her, making a scene, and even brought his room mate out to the car so he could justify whatever tirade he was on about (She had called him a liar or something? I would have called him unstable).
It’s only been 30 seconds or so, but I’ve already decided to call security when I see him grab her face, yelling “Look at me! Look at me, bitch!” I was so angry by this point I stomped over and started yelling HEY to get his attention off of her. It worked, probably a little too well. Luckily we were on opposite sides of the car but that didn’t stop him from trying to scare me too. Calling me names, and saying how this was none of my business. I said none of that mattered and “You DON’T. TOUCH. HER.” and that I’d be calling someone to the scene. Now that I look back, he responded in probably the most ridiculous way possible, “Go ahead and call the cops. I don’t give a fuck! I’ve BEEN in prison before!” If I hadn’t been so mad I might have laughed in his face. I gave him a pointed look, flipped open my phone in the bitchiest way possible, and stomped away to grab the number for security.
When I met the guards a minute later the couple was gone. Luckily, since I’d seen the Screamer pull his friend outside I knew which apartment they lived in. The guards confronted the guys but I saw no sign of the girl. I’m still worried about her and I only hope that by sticking up for her, maybe she’ll learn that no one deserves to be treated like that.
Submitted by Katherine
This happened about 5 years ago. I was going home by the subway, and after Yorkdale station, the cart became really empty, and there were just myself and an older (looked to be in his 60s) man in the cart.
He began by being rather grandfatherly (I was 19, but looked much younger), asking if I go to school, and how my summer was. He then asked if I had a boyfriend. I was rather confused and naive, so I just answered honestly, saying no, I do not. He then smiled really big, went “yeah?”, and proceeded to fondle himself through his pants. I was really scared at this point, but I was sorta paralyzed and just didn’t know what to do. Finally, the train pulled into Downsview station (last one on the line) and I just bolted out the door.
I didn’t tell anyone about this because I rationalized that it wasn’t a big deal, he didn’t touch me, and it’s not like I have any proof. Looking back at it now, I know I should have tried to get a conductor, but the fact that I had no proof still would make me hesitate to tell another stranger.
Another thing that really stuck with me about this incident is how small that man is. His dick was literally the size of my thumb. This information doesn’t have much relevance to the story, but I somehow remember it quite distinctly.
Submitted by Anne
So when I was thirteen years old I lived in a terraced house set back from the road where my bus ran to my high school. At this time, they were building a small housing estate at the end of the road and I had to walk past the construction workers to go pretty much anywhere. The construction went on for forever; I’m pretty sure that they were building until I was about fifteen.
Now construction workers, like white van men, have a general reputation for cat calls and leering, and I developed pretty early, meaning that in the summer, when I walked past them in a tank top and a pair of shorts, a small chorus of wolf whistles and cat calling erupted from the site. Oh shit, I thought, is this going to happen all the time?
It happened more than once, which was bad enough. What was even worse is that they knew I was underage. Maybe they didn’t know exactly how young I was, but I’d walked past in my school uniform, they didn’t have an excuse. I told my mother about it eventually and she stormed down to give the foreman a piece of her mind, to which they responded like a bunch of naughty schoolboys: “Oh no miss, it couldn’t have been us, we’ve been down the other end all week.”
Bollocks, said my mother, you’ve been harassing my thirteen year-old daughter and I won’t stand for it.
The cat-calls stopped after that. I don’t know if it was the discovery that I wasn’t as old as I looked or the fact that my mother is a fierce bitch, but thankfully, it stopped.
Submitted by Milena
I had only recently moved to London from Nova Scotia, Canada, and had even more recently moved out of my cousin’s house in South London and into my own flat in North London. I spent the first few days exploring the area between Turnpike Lane and Seven Sisters stations, as you do in any new area I guess, looking at the shops and grocery stores, etc.
After being in the area for maybe two weeks tops, I was walking to Turnpike Lane station when a guy stepped out of a door stoop by one of the shops on West Green Road and blocked my way. I paused because he was in my way, and he tried to start a conversation about my Remembrance Day poppy. I tried to be polite and move along as I was late, but he was insistent that I *had* to have a conversation with him, and refused to stop blocking my path. Things quickly turned creepy. “I’ve seen you around,” he said, “I know you live in this area. You definitely live nearby. Give me your number, we’ll go clubbing. You’re pretty, you have to.” I had never seen this guy before in my life, and was severely creeped out by the fact that he had obviously been watching me, trying to figure out my routine. I pretended that I didn’t have a cell phone, but he made me write down his number before he’d stop blocking my path and let me continue on my way. No touching, and no verbal abuse, but still terrifying because of his insistence that I owed him something [my number, my time] since he had spent so much time watching me. I pretty much exclusively use Seven Sisters station now.
Submitted by Jade
My friend’s nickname for me is “mama”, because a man called me that on the street once when we were walking together. “Hey mama, how you doing? You’re looking good…”
It’s funny and sweet when she calls me that, but I’ll always remember the origin of the nickname: unsolicited harassment on the street.
Submitted by Ileanna
I was walking out of Taco Bell while talking to my husband on my phone. As I was passing by a beat up looking white car, a guy asked out the window: “Hey, can I use your phone?” I responded with “No, I’m talking business with my husband,” automatically. He was a younger white guy in the driver’s seat. His buddy was inside and conversing with the manager of the place. The guy said a few more things but like I said, I was talking to my husband so I wasn’t paying attention.
As I got to my car door, the other guy came out and said very suggestively “Hey, can I get something *else*?”. Unfortunately I got very pissed off and said f you to him. I realize now I shouldn’t have; but I can’t change the past.
As I was backing out, another car came around the corner very fast and because of that I almost hit him; the harassers were in their car and one got out, and said something (I do not know what), because they were also involved. I saw them stop their car a bit away while I was pulling out, and then of course like I knew they would, they started following me. I intentionally drove through the parking lot the complete opposite way towards the office store’s part of the parking lot; they followed me. So I turned to get onto Calumet Avenue, and they still followed me. This entire time I was on the phone with my husband, and he told me to go directly to where he worked.
Oh, by the way? He owns a gun shop and gun range. A tiny sliver of me was hoping that if they continued to follow me, they’d see my husband and his other worker standing outside with their hands on their guns.
Luckily, the idiots ended up turning off very quickly, before I even turned onto the expressway. Just shows that I need to get up off my lazy butt and learn to shoot and get a permit to carry, like my husband keeps telling me to.
Submitted by Kristen
Meet Bryony Beynon, the Vegan Cyclist fighting street harassment in London, UK.
What’s your signature Hollaback? ‘YEAH GOOD ONE MATE.’
What was your first experience with street harassment? I’ve been shouted at in the street since I was fourteen years old for one reason or another, maybe pink hair means fair game.
HOLLAfact about your city: London has 900 book shops, more than double NYC!
My superheroine power is … Superhuman eating abilities
Why do you HOLLA? Because there’s nothing more empowering than being prepared.
Define your style: Low-rent ’70s new waver
Say you’re Queen for the day, what would you do to end street harassment? Dissolve our ridiculous coalition government and secretly start a revolution led by a riotous and excellently dressed girl-gang of all ages (as the Queen, I’d recognize my wrinkly privilege as an instrument of classist state oppression, obvs I’d sacrifice myself on some kind of massive molotov-cocktail shot from the top of Buckingham Palace).
What do you collect? Records!
If you could leave the world one piece of advice, what would it be? Look after vulnerable people.
In the year 2020, street harassment … will only be allowed if continue to we let it.
What inspires you? DOERS.
What else? I can stamp out most annoying WordPress bugs and make a pretty sweet looking site so I’d be happy to help anyone out with that! As part of HollabackLDN we published a hi-spec two colour zine around the themes of modern feminism and gender equality called LANGDON OLGAR. You can buy it on the site, please do! It’s honestly awesome.
I was minding my own business when out of no where this guy started making sexual joke about my boyfriend and I; and then he proceed to tell my boyfriend and I that he (my boyfriend) must have slipped me a date rape drug last night.
Submitted by Summer
We are seeking a hard-working, ambitious, and dynamic Program Associate Intern to join our team. Hollaback! is an international movement to end street harassment using digital and mobile technology. Responsibilities include:
1. Researching and drafting our “State of the Streets” report, that will profile progress on street harassment in the areas that we serve;
2. Assist our expansion team in coordinating, training, and launching our second class of Hollaback sites internationally;
3. Research and identify potential individuals donors and foundations; and
4. Other administrative duties as needed.
Interested candidates must have a long-term interest in making the world a better place and a dedication to not just fighting the good fight, but to making genuine impact. The successful candidate will be detail-oriented, a consummate overachiever, able to think strategically, and a good writer.
We currently are accepting applications from students for spring 2011. The estimated time commitment is 15-20 hours per week, and we can offer a $100/month stipend to cover travel. This position takes place at our office, 6 Barclay Place, 6th floor (in the same office as Women’s eNews). You will be supervised directly by Emily May, executive director.
If you are interested, please send a resume, a cover letter, and a writing sample to holla (at) ihollaback.org before Feb. 15th.
I was getting into my car this morning to drive to work and, while throwing my bag into the backseat, I dropped my keys on the ground. There was a traffic debacle waiting in the wings, as a car pulled up behind me to make room for a school bus that was coming in the opposite direction (facing my vehicle). As I squatted down to pick up my keys, someone on the bus yelled “nice ass” out of an open window. I did not see the face of the student, but the sound of the voice was congruent with that of an elementary school student … If I had to venture a guess, I would have placed the student in 4th or 5th grade. Not only did I feel harassed and discounted, but I felt disheartened on a deep level. I have reason to believe that this was a child saying this … trying to impress friends or laxly emulating behavior(s) he has synthesized from any number of people, places, and things. Any way you slice it, it felt terrible for a multitude of reasons.
Submitted by Janet