Lauren’s story: CREEPY STALKER, a case of campus harassment.

I’ve been continuously harassed by the same student at my four year university. I do not know this individual except as “creepystalker”.

This started three years ago, when I was walking with my boyfriend. Creepy wiggled his eyebrows dramatically and stuck his face close to my breasts. My boy and I laughed it off, until it happened a few days later, this time when I was alone. He stuck his face a few inches from my chest, and mumbled “mmm…boobies”. The following day, when he did it again, my boyfriend (a rather intimidating looking 6’3″, 225 lbs) was with me, and told the guy “hey man, you need to calm down and stop that”. I though that would be the end of it.

Since that day, I have encountered this man about 15 times, and each time he cuts across the hallway specifically to get close to me and my chest. One day, I was studying in the library, with a feeling of unease. I felt like someone was watching me. I turned around, and saw my harasser sitting across my desk. He had completely turned his chair around from the desk position so that he could watch me. I immediately packed up my things and walked out of the library, and he began to follow me. I started running out of the library, and he wasn’t able to keep up and instead stayed at the bottom floor and looked up my crotch as I climbed up the stairwell.

I always think about what I should say. I know that I need to tell this person off. I am graduating, and I know that I will feel uneasy for the rest of my life knowing that this individual is likely making other women feel this way. I have also seen him behaving in this manner towards other women, although usually it involves him glaring at her while she is walking away. I believe this man may be mentally or developmentally handicapped, and this has been one of a few reasons why I have not reported it to university authorities – out of guilt for his condition. But should it really matter?

As a strong feminist, I feel so disappointed that I don’t have the courage to confront this man. Whenever I think up the perfect thing to say, I see him walking towards me and my body starts sweating and shivering, and my mind gets all fuzzy. I can’t even react…I act like a deer in headlights and I am unable to say what I want or cover myself with my books like I planned.

Knowing that this is unfortunately all too common is a sad finding, but it gives me some solace to hear your stories and know that I am not alone in this struggle. I hope to work up the courage to confront him next time.

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Kath’s story: “I was 12 years old…”

I was 12 years old, walking to the video store with my cousins (11 and 13) one summer afternoon, when a car slowed as it drove by us. “Haaaaay sexy!” a man shouted to us from the passenger seat. Then they sped away.

I didn’t even process what had happened. I’d never been harassed like that before. I mean, I was a gawky, brace-face pre-teen, still a naive child. What kind of grown man would cat-call me??? Was he dangerous? Did he think we were older than we looked? Was I dressed too provocatively in my shorts and baggy t-shirt? I was so confused.

This was just the first of many instances of verbal harassment I’ve experienced, and probably not the most horrible, but it definitely left an impression.

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“Not Your Baby” iPhone app helps users deal with sexual harassment


In 2010 and 2011, we were delighted to partner with Hollaback! to release an online survey on responses to sexual harassment. It was one of a few similar surveys we put out to find out how people deal with harassment, where they go for help, and how they would help a friend.

We received a total of 238 responses and, absolutely spilling over with your inspiring and diverse stories, we developed Not Your Baby, a free iPhone app to provide users with ideas on how they could respond to sexual harassment “in the moment”.

Once installed, the app allows users to input where they are – work, school, home, social setting or on the street – and who’s harassing them – perhaps a boss, coworker or fellow student. Based on the ideas of those survey respondents who shared what they’ve done to deal with similar instances of harassment, a possible response is generated. Not Your Baby also allows users to submit their own stories and ideas and grows richer as people contribute to it.

METRAC, the community-based organization I work for in Toronto, Canada, was founded in 1984 to help prevent violence against diverse women and youth. From our Safety Audit process to legal information provision to our youth violence prevention workshops and game development, we’ve been aware of the impacts of sexual harassment, especially on women, girls, trans people and other groups at highest risk. We love exploring new ways to address violence against women and youth and supporting folks to find their own solutions. That’s why we admire Hollaback! so much – it’s all about grassroots action and the things we can do in our own lives to challenge sexual harassment on the street.

In 2011, the Ontario Human Rights Commission recognized gender-based harassment “used to get people to followtraditional sex stereotypes” as a form of sexual harassment in their updated policy on preventing sexual and gender-based harassment . They acknowledged that, in addition to the harassment many women and girls face based on their identities, those who don’t fit dominant stereotypes of what it means to be a “real man” or “real woman” are also targeted. The reality of gender-based harassment is reflected in the app and resources to help people deal with it are own solutions. That’s why we admire Hollaback! so much – it’s all about grassroots action and the things we can do in our own lives to challenge sexual harassment on the street.

Many thanks to Hollaback! for support in the survey process, as well as many of you who responded to the survey. Take a look at the app, submit your own ideas and stories, and let us know what you think!


Stephanie’s Story: Shocking and scary

I was walking home from my boyfriend’s house on a Friday night. Whenever I walk anywhere at night I always walk with a slight “don’t mess with me” type of attitude. I was doing the same thing last night but it didn’t prove effective. While I was walking past a group of guys one of them grabbed me and and asked me if I “wanted his big dick.”  I was disgusted!  I’ve been street harassed before but never like this. I was dumbfounded and I didn’t know what to do, so I just walked away. I didn’t want to provoke the drunk guy and his friends so walking away seemed like my best option. I’ve never felt so violated before. I know this form of harassment seems tame compared to what could have happened, but it still scared me.

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Julez’s Story: “So shocked by the rudeness”

I thought this only happened when I was dressed in somewhat revealing clothes, but I was wrong. I was walking to Ana’s to get some food before going to hang out with friends when one guy walking by on a cell phone stopped right in front of me, stared right at my chest, pulled the phone away from his ear and said “Damn!” before moving on like nothing had happened. I’d become somewhat used to this when wearing low cut tops, sadly enough, but on this day I was wearing a turtleneck. I was so shocked by the rudeness that I couldn’t get it out of my mind for the rest of the day.

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Kestrel’s Story: “I refuse to change”

I just turned 18, and this story is from a few months ago. I was sitting in the park with a male friend of mine, on a warm spring day. I was wearing a tight mini skirt and a t shirt. I got up and walked across the lawn to the park bathrooms. There were two men sitting on a concrete ledge outside the bathrooms – the man closest to me had grey hair and leathery, sun damaged skin, and his friend was young, maybe in his early twenties, good looking. As I walked past the older guy, he called after me, “Hey there, what’s your name? Spare a cigarette? Hey, who do you think is cuter, me or my friend?” I ignored them and went into the bathroom.
When I came back out, I walked past them quickly, hoping they had taken my silence for an answer and moved on. Instead, the same guy called out to me again, “Hey, come sit with us for a minute!” I kept walking away. “You’ve got nice legs! Thanks for wearing that skirt today and giving me something to look at!” I could hear them both laughing, and I walked even faster.
When I got back to the spot where my friend was waiting for me, I sat down and immediately told him what happened, and described how I wished I had flipped the guys off or yelled back at them, and complained about how this sort of thing happens to me almost every day. He laughed and said, “You do have nice legs though, I like to look at them too…”
I know that the way I dress influences the type and amount of comments I receive when I’m walking around my city alone. I dress however I want to regardless. I like the way I look and I refuse to change the way I present myself out of fear.

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A week in our shoes: FRENCH GLAMOUR + 7 NEW SITES


Hey Hollabackers!

Fall is in full swing here at Hollaback.  I was in GLAMOUR MAGAZINE (in france no less!) with our site leaders from London and France (pictured above), and we launched SEVEN new sites this week!  They include:

Edinburgh, Scotland (Check out their interview in the Scotsman here, their launch party was yesterday!)
Lima, Peru
Melbourne, Australia (Their launch party was yesterday!)
Sheffield, South Yorkshire (Their launch party is tonight! Check out their mention in the F-word blog here and their BBC radio interview here, they are 1 hour 36 minutes and 30 seconds in.)
Victoria, (BC) Canada
And that’s not all! Here’s what else happened:

Recommendations for policymakers! Based on our findings in the report “When Street Harassment Comes Indoors,” we made a list of recommendations for policy-makers and service providers looking for ideas to combat street harassment. Check them out and pass them on to your local legislators.

Hollaback Benefit Drag show, September 22nd at Stonewall! This Party to benefit Hollaback will feature Music Spun all night by Dj Executive Realness and two drag shows hosted by Frostie Flakes! Suggested donation at the door $5. RSVP on facebook, here.

Thank you, Vicky! As you may remember, Vicky Simister from the UK Anti-Street Harassment Campaign was here in our office helping us with social media and our new college campaign this summer. She was an incredible volunteer, and on a more personal note, became an incredible friend.  She may no longer work at Hollaback, but she’ll always be a Hollaback girl in our hearts!

Welcome, Tabasum! Tabasum Wolayat comes from Afganistan and is volunteering with us for the next three weeks before she heads off to a Master’s program at Oxford. She won awards for her undergraduate thesis on street harassment in Afganistan, and is currently working with Young Women For Change to launch Afganistan’s first women-only internet cafe.

Hollaback Baltimore holds first ever Street Harassment water balloon fight! THIS IS A MUST WATCH VIDEO:

Hollaback South Africa fights for women to be allowed to sing in public. Check out this video of their powerful campaign:

Whew! Whatta week. It wouldn’t be possible without your support.

HOLLA and out –


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Mary’s Story: Groped

At about 4pm this afternoon I was walking from the bus to my apartment. It’s only a 3 block walk and I do it often. The street was empty. I saw a teenager in a hoodie walking toward me. I didn’t think anything of it because it happens all the time. I started to get a weird feeling but decided to ignore it. As I walked past him he got close to me and grabbed my left breast. I carry pepper spray with me all the time but I was carrying two large grocery bags (one each hand) and couldn’t go for it. I just kept walking as I was in shock and afraid that he might follow me. There’s a motorcycle shop on the corner so I crossed the street and stood in front of it to check if the guy had turned around. I looked down the street and he was following me. I didn’t know what to do so I walked quickly to where there were a lot of people and he disappeared. I didn’t call the police because my friend was groped earlier this summer, pointed the guy out to police and they didn’t do anything about it. I also didn’t tell anyone about it because I don’t want them to worry. I feel so validated. But more so I’m mad that I didn’t think to grab my phone or to drop my bags and pepper spray him.

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Alys’s Story: “Glad I didn’t hear it”

I was stepping off the bus having spent a wonderful day in the city centre with two of my friends. As I did so, a car drove past with two lads inside. They shouted something at me – I have no idea what, as my headphones were in and my music was pretty loud, but they seemed really pleased with themselves. From the faces of the people on the bus, whatever they said was not pleasant. I’m glad I didn’t hear it. Still, it freaked me enough to walk the couple of streets home at a far quicker pace than usual.

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Clara’s Story: “I don’t like it”

I was walking down the street in the early afternoon, after babysitting. I was wearing shorts and an old red t shirt. I hadn’t showered in two days and thought I looked gross. It was hot outside.

I was crossing the street when a middle aged man said in a forceful voice “I would f**k the shit out of you.” As he passed, he was so close to me that I could feel his breath on my ear when he said it.

I was shocked. But I have decided that I am not going to take it anymore. I will not be passive. I turned around and shouted “Excuse me?” Before responding, he looked around and repeated himself. “I would f**k the shit out of you.” He shouted it louder this time.

I never would have thought that would happen to me in a nicer neighborhood in Manhattan or that it would happen on a day when I looked like I rolled right out of bed. I dressed like that purposefully because I thought it looked bad. I don’t like getting cat called.

I always feel helpless when I think back on that and other times I have been harassed on the street. I was not trying to get anyone’s attention. It’s hot outside, I would like to wear shorts.

I feel stressed out when I know I have to walk outside and be exposed to eyes that will follow my legs as I go by. Or when I get the courage to meet a stranger’s eyes in confrontation only to get a smile back as if he likes that I have given him attention. Don’t do that. I don’t like it.

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