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(I shared a story yesterday and was shocked when it was posted as the first bystander story, so I thought I share a few incidences where I was the victim and people had MY back)
I was waiting for the lightrail to go to work when a man came and sat beside me. He started asking pretty sexual questions and I tried to deflect him, and eventually asked him to leave. When he didn’t, I moved to stand closer to a group of people. He got up to follow me, a security guard approached me and the man walked away. That same security guard stood and waited with me every morning from that day on. We became rather good friends and I’ve always been grateful for his care and concern.
I was sitting on the lightrail, headed to work, when a homeless man came up behind me and started petting my hair. He was murmuring how “pretty” I was and how shiny my hair clip was. I was paralyzed with indecision, the car was mostly empty and the man was obviously a few cards short of a full deck. He was behind me and touching me, and I could see in the reflective glass that he was much bigger than me. What if I upset him and he lashed out to hurt me? There was a tough “gangster” looking guy sitting across the isle from me a couple seats down who stood up and growled at the man to get his (expletive) hands off of me and to “leave the girl alone”. The homeless man moved to the back of the car and got off at the next stop. The “gangster” looking guy moved to the seat across the isle from me and “mean mugged” anyone who came near me until I reached my stop. We never exchanged words, but I sent him a thankful glance and had the feeling he was warning people away from me to give me time to recover and collect myself. I wish I had been less shaken and able to properly express my gratitude.
I was headed home from work and got off the lightrail to change trains. A few steps out a man behind me tried to get my attention by saying something along the lines of “Hey baby, where you headed?” I turned my head and saw him moving towards me, when a police officer blocked his path and told him to leave me alone. I kept walking but heard the people around me. Some were laughing, but I heard one girl talking to a friend saying she couldn’t believe that just happened – what right did a cop have to tell a guy not to talk to some girl?
I could keep going. If I go somewhere I’m normally walking or taking public transportation. I even have stories from walking home from the bus stop in middle school. Being a victim of street harassment makes you feel vulnerable and in constant danger every time you step outside your front door, but sometimes there are everyday heroes that remind you that you’re not alone and if you are lucky someone will be there to have your back.
There are a few things that have kept me unmolested for the most part that I’d like to share with you.
*Vary your routine, if at all possible make the routes you walk random.
*If possible, walk with a friend. Sometimes this may be as simple as striking up a conversation with another female traveling in the same direction as you and walking together.
*Stay close to groups, if they’re around stay near law enforcement or security. Isolating yourself makes you an easy target.
*Be aware of your surroundings, walk with confidence, and don’t slow down when someone tries to talk to you.
*Don’t be afraid to ask for help, people are usually more than happy to provide it.
Good luck, stay safe, and remember to have each other’s backs.
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