demonstration

Melissa’s Story: “I’m glad he was thoroughly made a fool of”

I was out with my boyfriend and a couple of his friends at local ski resort bar in Blue Mountain. We were dancing and have a great time, when some brute of a guy walked past me and slapped my butt extremely hard. I turned around and screamed, “don’t fucking touch me!” At this point my boyfriend clued in, grabbed an empty beer bottle and raised it towards the offending individual. (I realized this may not have been the right move, but hell, it got the point across) What the guy said next actually blew my mind, “hey man, I’m just looking to have a good time, no offense.” He apologized to my boyfriend, not me, as if I was HIS property. My boyfriend then told him to apologize to me and probably yelled some other obscenities his way before the guy ran off with his tail between his legs. I was fuming the entire night, to know that some guy thought he could use my butt, a complete stranger’s butt, as his enjoyment for the night. I’m glad he was thoroughly made a fool of.

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demonstration

MN’s Story: Harassed then followed

I have accepted that public transportation in my city is less than ideal, but my job is good and I don’t have a car, so I deal with it.

On the way home, I noticed a guy injecting what I hope was insulin into his belly with a large syringe. He was doing it with some difficulty and the syringe was waving around. I was horrified that he had a needle on the bus and couldn’t take my eyes off it. He took this to mean that I found him irresistible. He handed me a slip of paper with his name and phone number on it and said,”call me sometime.” I nodded and slipped it in my bag, not knowing what to do.

A few stops later, he sat in the seat next to mine, asked what time it was, and touched the arm closest to him when I answered. As a person who needed my front of the bus seat more than I did got on the bus, I moved back a bit and sat next to a small girl, but the guy didn’t let up. I got off the bus at my stop and noticed he did as well. He followed me halfway down the block toward my house, not riding his bike quickly, just fast enough to keep up with my gait. He finally got bored and turned around and left, but I was shaken the rest of the way home. Does being a woman mean I have to put up with that kind of s— just by taking the bus?

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demonstration

Rose’s Story: Embarassed

I was walking with my brother who had come from out of town to help me move into a new place in a new neighborhood. As we were walking, someone yelled to him out of their car “hey, your girl has a nice ass” I was really embarrassed, but my brother yelled back “she’s my sister” The driver then yelled “calm down, I’m just complimenting you both!”
When my brother told the story to our friends when we went out that night, everyone thought it was funny and his wife even said “that’s cute” but I was so embarrassed, even by the re-telling.

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demonstration

Randi’s Story: A job that isn’t worth the stress

Ladies, not even your job is a safe zone from harassment. Today I was re-setting a shelf for some new products and a man came up to me and asked me if I worked there, where a product was, the normal stuff I hear every day. Later on I was at the register and he came through my line. He asked my name (I gave a fake one), how old I was, and how much I knew about tools. Then he grabbed himself and said, “I got a big tool and I wanna use it on you, sweet thing” while licking his lips. I told him straight out to leave me the f*ck alone, called for a backup cashier and closed my line, forcing a male coworker to take care of him. Afterward I told my manager, and he said he doubted the guy really said that and that even if he did, he is a customer and “customers are where we get our paychecks.” My job cares more about profit than their employees feeling safe and comfortable. So I walked out and quit. I have a second job to fall back on anyway.

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demonstration

Anon’s Story: Harassed while biking home

Several years ago, I only had a bike to get to and from my job. The ride was five miles each way, and in no time at all, I was in pretty good shape.
One afternoon, after finishing my shift, I had just crossed an incredibly busy intersection and was coasting down the sidewalk when out of nowhere, these guys started catcalling me. I don’t remember exactly how many there where, but they were saying things along the lines of “Yeah baby! Looking good!”
Tired, cranky and now pissed off, I slammed my brakes on, located the direction of the catcalls (a dark green pickup about fifteen feet away from me), and in front of the entire waiting line of traffic, I flipped the guys off with both hands, screaming at the top of my lungs “DON’T EVER CALL ME THAT AGAIN!”
Not waiting for their response, I got back on my bike and pedaled home.
When I related the story to my mother later that night, she expressed her disappointment in my “unladylike” behavior and that the guys were only “trying to compliment” me.
That night, I wasn’t sure who I was more upset with: the truck full of guys who catcalled me or the mom who didn’t seem to understand that I was defending myself against street harassment.

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demonstration

BB’s Story: “I don’t know your name, woman on the bus, but I’d like to thank you again for your altruism and your bravery.”

I’ve always been a bit spacey and slow on the uptake when it comes to conversation, so I often don’t realize I’ve been flirted with or hit on during the day until I’m going through my day right before I fall asleep. This usually isn’t too much of a problem for me, but it’s thanks to a certain brave woman that it didn’t lead me to some dangerous consequences when I faced a harasser a few months ago.

I was taking the bus back from the airport, and a female passenger struck up a conversation about the luggage I was using. We chatted a bit, and eventually a man sitting behind me joined in on the conversation. The woman got off at the bus stop and the conversation continued, and because I thought he was just being casually friendly I didn’t notice that he was persistently casing me out for personal details – where I was going, what college I was going to, where I was staying, etc. stuff that I didn’t think twice about when telling him because I didn’t realize that’s what he was doing, or that he was showing non-platonic interest in me,

Then, a woman sitting across from me turned, looked at me and him, and loudly and pointedly told me that she would be watching what stop I was getting off at in case he decided to follow me. Suddenly, I realized the situation I was in, and what possible danger I was getting into. He confirmed that suspicion by getting angry and turned to verbally abusing her, trying to tell me that she was just jealous because he wasn’t hitting on her and forcefully insisting I tell him my name. She wouldn’t take that kind of behavior and started telling him off, and they started arguing. All I could do was keep silent – I’d never been in this kind of situation before. Eventually, he got off and I thanked the woman for cluing me in.

When I got off, I was shaken. I felt stupid that I’d let myself get duped so easily, angry that he would think it was okay to treat me like that in the first place, but above all else, I was grateful that someone had stepped in to help someone else who was unknowingly being placed in a dangerous situation and defend them from a harasser. I don’t know your name, woman on the bus, but I’d like to thank you again for your altruism and your bravery.

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demonstration

AG’s Story: “In order to pay my bills, I have to be subjected to this patron for the rest of the season.”

I was on post at my job when an middle-aged gentleman proceeded to take his rolled up race program and slap my left buttcheek with it.  Earlier in the day, he grabbed my wrist to look at my tattoo but I thought nothing of it at the time. I just dismissed him as another drunk patron.

But after the newspaper incident, I immediately reported him to my supervisor who took over 40 minutes to return with a security guard. The guard went over to the man (who was kicking back, drinking beer in his lawn chair next to his wife) and asked him his side of the story. I then watched the security guard and the man exchange laughter/guffaws while looking in my direction.

I took my break to calm down and came back to my post to hear from my co-worker that the gentleman in question came over to apologize to me. He also informed my co-worker that he was an off-duty police officer.

I had to let him through my turnstile for the rest of my shift whilst being subjected to his leers. We don’t have HR on site where we work, so my complaint is lost in translation with our NYC office. In order to pay my bills, I have to be subjected to this patron for the rest of the season.

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demonstration

Jackie’s Story: “What gives them the right to make me feel uncomfortable just because I’m a girl?”

My friend and I went to the U2 concert. At the concert there was an inner ring that was pretty crowded and sort of like a mosh pit. My friend and I, being the stupid 16 year olds we are, decide that we just wanted to walk through from one end to the other to see if it was worth standing in there. It was really crowded and we quickly decided that once we found our way out of the ring we would not come back. But as we were walking through we pushed past three boys that were probably about 17. My friend was walking first so she didn’t see it but all three of the boys stared at us in a really creepy way that made me feel uneasy. Then as I was getting past the last boy he grabbed his crotch and gave me this look as I stared at him in repulsion. Needless to say I pushed my friend a little faster and said KEEP GOING when she tried to stop right after we passed them. The three boys heard me say this and started laughing like it was all some big joke. I felt like crying. What gives them the right to make me feel uncomfortable just because I’m a girl? I wish someone would have seen and done something. I wish I would have done something. Because that was no joke and it was not okay.

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demonstration

Nikki’s Story: Harassment turned into an opportunity

I was walking from my car to campus with two friends when I saw about 4 men fixing a roof nearby. Not long after, we began hearing things like, “hey ladies”, “Heeeey mama!” and the like. I used it as an opportunity to tell my friends about Hollaback! (they hadn’t heard of it). It was a great way to avoid the situation AND educate a few more people about this amazing site.

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The Movement

Nicola’s Got Nerve

DNA evidence a real solace for survivors of sexual assault

Recently, another sexual predator in the New York City subway system was caught with an analysis of his DNA. From 2002 to 2005, Manhattan prosecutors say that the suspect, Darnell Hardware, was charged with rubbing himself up against young women on packed subway cars. With a rap sheet a mile long, he still had the gall to plead not guilty. The predator that attacked me had a similar delusion ~ that even though there was blatant evidence to the contrary (a condom, in his case), and multiple victims in his wake ~ that he would somehow be able to beat the rap. But there’s an old expression, “The body doesn’t lie.” DNA testing has become the almost incontrovertible “truth serum” for prosecutors, especially for cases involving sexual assault. In this case, the suspect had allegedly attacked multiple women and was able to successfully elude capture for years, but that didn’t stop his DNA from being charged while he was ‘in absentia.’

DNA testing has only become popular in the last two decades, but has already helped convict many violent criminals, as well as exonerate the innocent. Particularly for finding proof of sexual assault, which had formerly depended upon the victim’s testimony, DNA testing is a significant advancement. To increase the possibility of an attacker being convicted with DNA, a victim needs to have the presence of mind to not destroy any of this type of evidence. In their traumatic state, many victims find themselves inadvertently trying to revert their body and their environment back to the way things were before the crime took place. This is a natural reaction to sexual assault, which anyone can have, regardless of the level of violation. I, personally, can remember wanting to burn the dress I was wearing the day that happened to me on the subway. So it is vital to remind ourselves, that if the worst case scenario occurs, we know how to handle it ~ besides immediately getting to safety, the preservation of evidence is of paramount concern. As per the advice of RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, victims need to avoid doing the following after an assault: bathing or showering, using the restroom, changing clothes, combing hair, cleaning up the crime scene, or moving anything the offender may have touched. This can help to provide as much physical evidence as possible if the victim decides to complete a rape kit, administered by a SANE (a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner). A SANE’s testimony can even be used in the event that a case goes to trial. And DNA evidence can indeed catch a rapist, as in a case this past February in Houston, TX, where police apprehended the accused by taking saliva swabs from residents of his apartment complex.

Of course, the other side of this, is that there are many cases of sexual victimization in which no DNA evidence can be found, which works to the victim’s disadvantage. With the public now so used to hearing about DNA testing in the media and the courts, sometimes there is a rush to declare that a crime didn’t actually take place if no DNA evidence was found or preserved properly. But for those difficult cases that have gone unsolved for years, or have even gone cold for decades, DNA has become a saving grace. In recognizance of this fact, there is a movement to pass state DNA Arrestee Testing laws, spearheaded by the non-profit group DNA Saves. It advocates mandatory DNA testing from felony arrestees, and has already been passed in the House of Representatives with strong bi-partisan support. It is now awaiting approval by the Senate, and is known as “Katie’s Law,” which stands for the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act. Katie was a beautiful 22-year-old graduate student from New Mexico, whose body was found raped, strangled to death, and set on fire near her home in August of 2003. Through skin and blood recovered from under her fingernails, law enforcement was able to finally track down the killer, Gabriel Avilla. He had committed several other crimes, but because there had been no mandatory DNA testing at the time of his arrest in November of 2003, Katie’s murder went unsolved for three years.

Through reading about this case, as well as many others like it, I am thoroughly convinced that DNA testing should be mandatory for violent offenders, as they are already subject to fingerprinting. This requirement could bring about justice for victims and their families, save lives, and act as a deterrent to future sexual assaults. Victims and the groups which support them now have more power than ever to make it clear to predators that not only will there be zero tolerance for sexually violating another human being, but that if they do, the consequences will be life-altering. The Hardwares and the Avillas of this world will truly be put on notice when this important bill passes.

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