Luckily I have not had to deal with street harassment like I did in my 20’s, but to this day (and I am 50 now) I remember the unreal awful terrifying and constant harassment I faced daily just trying to get to my job. I had just moved to Los Angeles and had to take a bus to downtown and then walk four blocks to my job. Daily I was yelled at followed, called mamma cita, watch men touch themselves….I felt vulnerable and terrified. It never stopped and it was horrific. Back then there were no “purple shirts” which are prevalent now in downtown which are bike security guards, but I really was on my own. I think that harassers need to be arrested because more than likely they have raped someone in their past or present. I think harassment is a sign of potential violence towards women and needs to be considered at least a misdemeanor.
I was walking to the store when these two guys pulled up in there car and start talking to me.
I was sitting on the bus, behind the bus driver, and across from a man, and in no way was I looking or staring at the man, but from the corner of my eye, I saw him grab his crotch and shake it, in my direction, which I thought was so disgusting and rude.
I did my best to ignore him, then, but wish I had told the bus driver or something. I plan on making a complaint to the Metro.
Thanks. Glad I was able to share my story. Hope this helps someone else out there feel like they’re not so alone. Have a blessed day, folks.
My boyfriend showed me a story on CNN about street harassment and that’s where I saw the link for this site. I’m very torn about this, actually. On one hand, I’m glad there is a forum for women to share their experiences and vent out how frustrating these situations are, without fear of getting horrible comments that make you feel like you “were asking for it”. That’s not what we want to hear after we’ve been victimized. It isn’t a question of shaming nor is it a plea for pity and attention, but some people take it that way. The reason I’m so torn is that on the other hand, my heart breaks that there is a need for a site to express how we feel and worse, that there are so many women who have undergone these traumatic situations. The most recent instance I have had of unwanted sexual attentions (I’m not even counting the catcalls this morning as I was crossing the street to work) happened about a month ago. I was dressed in slacks and a button up uniform shirt for my internship in an office. I was on a crowded bus and found a pole to grab onto when I felt a man place his hand at the nape of my neck and run his hand down the length of my spine towards my rear. I froze in place: there was no mistaking the man’s touch for a simple accidental bump. Fortunately for me, a gentleman witnessed what happened and stood up and gave me his seat while calling out the other guy on his inappropriate behavior. He informed the bus driver of what had occurred and the creep was kicked off the bus. But the damage was done. I felt dirty. Worse, I caught myself thinking “I deserve this.” That’s what angered me most. I’m grateful someone stood up for me, though. It reminded me that it wasn’t my fault and that there are people who will stand up against injustices.
I was walking home from work. It was not even dark outside. A man walking towards me had a shifty look in his eyes. I immediately got a bad feeling but kept walking which was a huge mistake. Right before he got to me he said “nice boobs” and grabbed my chest and ran off like the coward that he is. This was years ago but I never forgot it. Now I am paranoid when I walk down the street even though I don’t live in the same city. I did report it to the police and they accepted the report without fail but they never “caught” the guy. After it happened I ran home and I had this overwhelming feeling of disgust. I wanted to vomit, it made me feel so violated.
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I walk the same few blocks in my city almost daily, and had never felt unsafe until a few weeks ago. I was on my normal route, with my music playing in my ears. I keep it low just to be aware of noises around me, which allowed me to hear vague yelling. I pulled one earbud out and looked around. There was a silver sports car with two guys in it right behind me, and the driver was yelling something out of his window. I didn’t hear much except “… fine ass, baby!!” Not knowing what else to do, I put the earbud back in and kept walking. The car then pulled into a driveway a few metres ahead of me. I did not know what to do. I stopped in my tracks, took my earbuds out, and waited for their next move. This was in broad daylight on a fairly busy street! The passenger door opened, and I glanced at the houses around me trying to assess where I could potentially go for safety. Thankfully, a door opened in a house across the street and a man stood on his porch pointedly staring at the car. The driver must have seen the man, as he yelled to the passenger to “get in the car!” The passenger got back in the car and the car sped away. I waved at the man on the porch and continued on my way, albeit with my heart pounding a little harder and a much more wary eye on the street.
I was delighted to hear of your website – what a wonderful idea.
I also thought it would be so freeing to share my stories. Don’t know if they will be very relevant, because it is a collection, but I decided to share anyhow. Keep in mind that I am an ordinary looking girl, quiet and modest in dress and demeanor. I am only reporting incidents that took place in the street or on public transport.
As a child of age 7-8:
• Two boys of about 10-11 followed me home along the road and tried to pull down my pants (I was wearing a dress). My parents later tracked them down and spanked them!!
As a teenager aged 13-16:
• while buying something at a roadside kiosk, a young man behind me reached between my legs;
• when at farmers markets I had men try to put hand on my backside (more than once);
• when walking down the street on my way home after school, a young man blocked my way, and asked where I was going. I said, “home”. He said, “where is home?” I randomly pointed to a stranger’s house across the street and said, “there!” I proceeded to march across the street while the man grabbed and slightly tore a frill on my blouse, and also tried to grab my hair. I opened the garden gate (fortunately unlocked), and walked right into the backyard of the unknown house. The young man finally let go when I pushed inside the gate. A surprised child was playing in the yard, and his kind mother let me call my mom to come get me and drive me home. After hearing the story my mom was very angry and wanted to track down the man who had harassed me, but I was terrified and begged her not to.
As a young adult (‘20s):
• Was flashed when walking the gardens of a public park.
• When riding in crowded tram, standing and holding onto an overhead grip, felt man press his body against mine from behind – uggggghhh! But unable to move because it was so crowded, and I couldn’t clearly see who was doing this. Felt helpless and so angry at that disgusting man.
• When walking through the edge of a public park, a man walking towards me suddenly reached up and put his hands on my breasts as he passed me.
• (This next story has a satisfying ending): I had recently attended a 1 hour self-defense presentation at my workplace, and was reading a book as I rode the subway home (BART). I noticed out of the corner of my eye, that the man seated next to me had put his hand on the seat, and was gradually inching it closer and closer to my leg as I read. I realized he was planning to touch my leg. My first instinct would have been to move, but because of that self-defense presentation, I decided to stay put because to move would be to just give in. I watched the hand s-l-o-w-l-y move closer until finally it brushed against my leg – and at the moment I instantly slapped his hand hard, and loudly said, “Get your hands off me, you creep!!!!!” Then I went back to reading my book (of course, not seeing a word on the page! ) The man pulled his hand back and cowered into the corner of the seat, and said, “Sorry!” I hoped that my response might cause that man to think twice before doing that to another woman.
These incidents seem very minor, but the fact that they stand out so much in my memory shows that sexual harrasment is no joke and truly causes harm.
Elizabeth Swearingen, a university student in New York City, recently made a film about street harassment featuring Hollaback. As part an assignment for her Feminism, New Media and Health class, Elizabeth created the short documentary to share her own experiences which also reflect the experiences of so many Hollabackers worldwide. Thank you Elizabeth!
I was surprised yet pleased to find that a site such as this exists. I have been experiencing street harassment all my life. It almost seems normal. From the time I turned 13 I’ve had to put up with cat calls. I’d hear them every day on my way walking home from school. I’d meet the same people and hear the same calls. ‘My sexy bow foot friend’ was usually the annoying mantra I endured for years at school. It still continues to date. Whenever I pass guys on the street, I hear ridiculous statements and lame pick up lines. It happens to all women everywhere. I try my best to ignore only to be cursed, called unmannerly and rude names when I don’t respond. If I’m in a bad mood, I snap and curse back. In a few cases, this has caused the other guys watching the exchange to laugh at me and further cursing from the offender. Feels like there’s no option out of this treatment. I just feel like a victim. Besides this street harassment, there have been several instances where I have been walking along a not so busy street and had a car slow down next to me and some idiot try to pick me up. Refuse to drive off even when I try their advances. This usually happens when its dark outside. The streets are well lit but it doesn’t help me feeling violated when it happens. Whenever it does, I wonder what if the guy doubles back and tries to kidnap me. On one occasion, I was on the bus coming home after dark from university. There was this guy who was not from my country I could tell from my skin colour and hair who kept staring at me. It was the second time I caught the bus and noticed the same guy staring. I got off the bus alone and started walking up a short hill to my home. I turned around and saw this guy following me. He was staring directly at me each time I checked. After a few minutes, I saw him make a turn behind me and disappear. I made it home safe but I was still very fearful. Since that night, I stopped catching the bus late at night and got a ride instead. I have not seen the creep since, not even during the day. I’ve lived in this same area for 24 years and have never seen this guy except that night. He does not live in my area. I believe that if I continued to ride the bus, the guy would have continued to stalk and tried to rape me. Another instance on the bus, I was sitting next to this jerk who was trying to chat me up. I ignored his advances and later got up and moved further down in the bus only to hear even more jeering. His friends also in the front of bus laughed out loud to every rude statement. There was a comment that women of my complexion have foul smelling vaginas. A few other women looked embarrassed but did nothing. I don’t blame them. Don’t think I would be brave enough to make a stance either. Luckily they got off shortly with even more rude statements, laughing and glances at me for my reaction. Maybe I stop catching the bus for I have just one instance to share which occurred there. Found myself sitting next to a middle aged fat guy who propositioned me to spend a day with him and he’d pay me as much as I get at work. I also get these propositions while walking the street. I work in the heart of town and one night the taxi while is usually on time was 30 minutes late. Every guy/group of guys had a dirty comment to make as they passed. I felt like I was losing a part of me with every comment. A bit of my happiness and piece of mind drifting away. I am fed up with feeling so alone and helpless just walking ordinarily and dressed ordinarily. What do guys think will happen if I or any other woman responds to their dirty comment? It certainly won’t land them in bed. Just go away jerks.