Sitting towards the back of the bus, a young boy came on and sat in front of me. When the woman sitting across from me left, he moved to sit directly behind me, on the back seat.
During the trip I felt extremely nervous and uncomfortable for reasons I could not quantify. I was too frightened to look behind me, and assured myself that nothing could really be happening because there were people on the bus – what I failed to register was that everyone was sitting at least two rows in front of me, with even less visibility than I had. In an extreme state of anxiety, I eventually left the bus at my stop and looked back to confirm that I had made the whole thing up.
I had not. I looked behind me and saw that the boy had been masturbating behind me for the 20 minutes he had been there. I do not blame myself for not acting upon my discomfort, or feeling violated and sick upon reflection. I am myself a teenager, and when I got home, crying, my mother called the police and we took action.
This experience has had a profound effect on me. I find dusk (the time it occurred) on public transport and alone incredibly unsettling, often feel uncomfortable on buses and second guess the people sitting around me. I sometimes feel irrationally frightened of people who look like this boy. This behaviour is unacceptable.
I was in a busy pub, walking to the bathroom when a middle aged man, one who looked old enough to have a daughter my age (18) groped my ass through my knee length dress (all sane people know what I was wearing has nothing to do with it, but that’s just for the skeptics who speak of “tiny hemlines” or whatever)
I paused, and thought for a moment “Am I going to just let this happen?” I considered that there were police directly outside the door of the pub, so I turned round, grabbed the guy by the collar and threw him towards the door ( I was about a foot taller than him) His friend got angry and told me to “just move along, he didn’t do anything” My boyfriend (who had been at the bar when it happened) came over and obviously was very angry and challenged the guy. The bouncer/security came over and asked us to leave, when I told him what happened he said “I didn’t see it” basically meaning it didn’t happen. He kicked out me and my boyfriend.
I was very angry about this, as you would understand I couldn’t believe we were the ones getting kicked out the pub for it. I was so frustrated, and angry I started crying. My friends told me it wasn’t a big deal, they didn’t understand why I even cared, “it happens all the time to everyone”. I was so upset by the injustice of it all that I approached the police and told them what happened. They took a statement from me and arrested the guy. They even took my dress for DNA testing, and checked the CCTV cameras but they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him. I just hope spending the night in the cells taught him not to do it someone else, and I hope he had to explain to his wife & kids exactly why he spent the night in the cells.
Oh, I wish it were just one address, one intersection, one story… I just have to say these are some NY experiences for me…
Countless catcalls. In addition to the usual “Hey, sexy.”, etc, a few examples are:
“Smile! Why you looking so sad?” [apparently not smiling for no reason=sad]. This is remarkably common, always intrusive, bewildering (come on, it’s obvious you are not concerned with my wellbeing, dude!) and extremely annoying.
“Say HI, ho!!!” [following my lack of response to a really gross-sounding “hiiiiiii”] Nice etiquette lesson, sir. Thanks.
1. Union Square, daylight, sidewalk, lots of people around. Guy digs under and between my buttocks. I begin to yell and swing my grocery bags at him. He laughs at me while dodging the swings. Lots of people look. No one tries to help. He leaves. A few minutes later I cry hysterically and am ‘comforted’ by some male ‘friends’ who tell me not to get so worked up over it.
2. Herald Square, daylight, sidewalk, moderately populated. A man grabs my behind and runs for it. Once a safe distance away makes sure to turn around to me and laugh. Continues his exit. I vow to myself I will be ready to pummel the next guy that does this. And am given the opportunity in…
3. Gramercy Park, daylight, sidewalk, few people. I feel a hand digging in my butt. I’m ready! I turn around and see a boy of approximately 14 yrs. His friends are backing away from him, saying “We told you not to do it.” I am going to kill this child. I go after him. He runs ahead of me. I am screaming at him to “Come here!” and he keeps running. I slow down and speak calmly “I want to talk to you,” he slows down a bit and I get closer. We alternate like this for a few blocks. Finally, a responsible-looking dad and his 9 or 10 yr old son ride up on bikes. The man susses out the situation and begins telling me to stop what I’m doing. I’m hysterically crying at this point and now really confused by what he’s saying. He then says maybe these boys have a knife and I shouldn’t be chasing them. I’m sobbing, pleading “Why are you stopping ME!?!? Why aren’t you saying anything to THEM???!?!??” He get’s defensive WITH ME. I understand his point about the risks but couldn’t he at least say SOMETHING to them? They are a block away and he doesn’t even say “This is wrong!” to the guys or anything. Another man walks up to us and asks what happened. I am choking on sobs, explaining to him what the boy did and why I am upset that I’VE been told to stop but he wasn’t. This man very calmly listens and agrees with me that this was wrong. Dad and son ride off. This new man offers to walk me to where I was going. About 10 steps into this walk, snot streaming out of my nose, he offers a GEM of and idea:
[Delivered with a certain flair, charm and authority (aka Sleaze)]
“You know what you need? You need to come up to my apartment and have a drink with me.”
I walked away from him. Bought and immediately put on a huge sweater full-price (I hate that!), though I was already dressed in conservative slacks and a blouse and it was summer. Cried the whole way home. When I was there safely I called my long-distance boyfriend who — THANK GOD — listened, empathized, and didn’t make it about an affront to his manhood or vandalism of his property. Just good, solid, caring support. Thanks, A.
I’ve unfortunately had to learn how to tell if I’m being followed and how to deal with it if I am. Thank you, crime/stalking/horror movies for your unerring guidance.
This has happened twice lately.
1. Walked onto the train and felt a guy notice me. As I kept riding, could just feel that he was planning something (THANK YOU, INTUITION!!!) and that he wasn’t quite right in the head. Waited until the last second to jump off at my stop and he quickly came out, too — after clearly not planning to before. I exited and went immediately into a store. He walked past it a few doors and then started back. I crossed the street, pretending to wait for a bus near where cops stand. He crossed the street toward me but then angled a bit away. I took a mental snapshot of his description. Found a cop, gave her the description and asked her to watch me walk home. Haven’t seen him since.
2. On the train again, a man moved close to me on a nearly empty train. He began to talk to me in hushed tones about some music he was making and a a video he wanted me to check out. Also flirting and saying things about my looks. He’s leaning really close to me. I’d say he was either somewhat developmentally challenged or on a drug, or both. He wants to talk about different things, he wants to know about me. I tell him I’m married. He keeps going. My stop comes up. I do the waiting thing. I jump off. He gets off. Another train comes downstairs. I run to it. The doors close before I get there. I pray for a miracle. The doors opened!!! I jump on. He doesn’t. I get off a stop later and thank the female conductor for opening the doors, telling her someone was following me. She is unfazed. I’m still grateful.
** Perhaps an interesting fact is that I model for a living and experience FEWER annoying, intrusive and scary interactions when I’m dressed UP for work. I have had MORE negative experiences when I was dressed either in a nicely CONSERVATIVE outfit or in my SWEATS! **
Thanks for reading! Wishing you safety, wherever you are!!!
We hope you’re having a beautiful harassment-free summer! Here’s what we’ve been up to this week:
Interns rule. A big thank you to our summer interns Sunny Frothingham and Rikera Taylor. Sunny worked on this year’s “State of the Streets” report, which will be released this fall, and in doing so elevated the voices of our site leaders internationally. Rikera developed these amazing HOW-TO guides that are now on our site, ramped up our resources, and brought in 500 new facebook fans and 500 new twitter followers in only two months. Way to go Sunny and Rikera, your legacy will be long-lasting here at Hollaback.
You rule, gropers drool. Yesterday we put a call out on social media for folks to tell their stories of groping for piece that NBC is interested in doing — and you responded in droves! In only 8 hours, we collected over 25 stories. Thank you for your quick work, and we’ll keep you posted on the release of the piece!
Partners rule. We were grateful to meet with Jan Bindas-Tenney, the new co-executive director of RightRides and coordinator for New Yorkers for Safe Transit. If you live in the Sunset Park community, check out New Yorkers for Safe Transit’s upcoming event. We were also honored to present to the talented team at PCI Media Impact this week — stay tuned for details on a partnership with them!
HOLLA and out —
I had just turned fourteen when I went to London, England with my cathedral choir. On a free day, my family and another family decided to visit the Nottinghill carnival parade, which is supposed to duplicate the carnivals found in South America and the Caribbean in areas where immigrants settled. One of the main attractions are the bright, colourful and revealing costumes women wear. Often costumes are a bikini, a large headpiece, with jewellery and accessories to decorate the material-lacking costume.
The carnival is fueled by music, dancing, secretive alcohol, and energy. Maybe because I was so young and had grown up with Caribbean parents, I did not find Carnival explicitly sexual. I stood beside my mother and another chorister my age right in front against the fence to bar off the audience from the performers. I watched dancing bodies and floats pass by and was enjoying myself.
I had realized there was a man behind me the entire time, slowly inching up towards the fence to get a better view. Or so I believed until I felt his hard penis against my ass. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, nor did I feel particularly unsafe since – this would be my first interaction with a penis and didn’t even know if what I was feeling was his penis.
I kept silent about it and kept telling myself it wasn’t his junk touching me. Eventually, he was pushing into me so hard that my torso was starting hurt from being pushed into the fence. When he started swaying slightly, I became confident it what I was feeling. I stopped underplaying my situation and told my mother. She put her elbow in between me and the man and pushing him away. After that I couldn’t feel anything hard on my ass again.
When the parade was over, my parents didn’t make a big deal of it or have much of a reaction, so I followed their lead. I remember being confused and wondering if it had been a man’s hard body part rubbing up on me. I was sure it was, but if it was, wouldn’t my parents been more concerned?
Growing up, I have realized that it was a hard penis on me, and that I had in fact been sexual assaulted.
I am not sure if my story fits the hollaback-movement, but I think it does. the situation was not on a street but in a kind of a semi-public place: in a dormitory of the university in bochum.
I have lived in the dormitory for the last three years. we have 5 floors with about 12 one-bed-rooms. all inhabitants of one floor use the kitchen, two showers and two restrooms together. in the past sometimes somebody tried to flirt with me but in a nice way. but some weeks ago a new inhabitant moved to our floor. I had a strange feeling about him but I thought “dont be so sensitive”. but my feelings were right. we spoke with each other twice, I felt again a little bit strange because his behaviour was strange. for example once it was obviously I wanted to leave the room but he didn`t give the way free. But again I said to me “okay, you are to sensitive. trust more!”. the next day I met him again in the kitchen. he told me the following: he saw me the night before (about 1:30) when I went to the restroom. and he had the idea to terrify me. but then he thought that “the poor little girl” (I am 30 years old) would be scared of it and he didn`t do it. at this point I started to tremble. and i am proud that I told him the first thing I thought: that if he had terrified “the poor little girl” I would have smashed his face in. at this point he stopped talking to me, some minutes later he asked only “are you angry?”. Yes, I was!
The problem now ist, that I feel very uncomfortable in my dormitory. luckily I will move in some weeks. But it is definitly a men`s world!
I was in eighth grade, when I was groped by a middle-aged man at a skating rink. I had been standing with a group of friends listening to a story when the man passed by me and grabbed me by my hips from behind – in an attempt to make it appear as if he were just trying to squeeze by. I turned around just as he continued on and noted the large space between me and those surrounding me. I only remember feeling completely embarrassed. I was thirteen years old the first time a strange grown man objectified me, and without my permission placed his hands on me.
I was walking down the street and a somewhat but noticeably irrational man decided to start walking and talking with me. He incoherently told me how well he treats women, and how he would take them out, basically trying to convince me hes a good guy for me. He continues to rant absurdities, and I continue to walk my way. He is slightly under 6ft and above 200lb, I had no intention of agitating him. I tell him I have to take the train now and he has no intention of leaving the boundary of the park we’re in. I don’t remember what he said to me, but he asks for a hug, and decidedly pulls me in for a great big bear hug. There were people around, but apparently no one found it slightly suspicious. I’m all of 5’3″ 104lbs.
Sya Groosman is a talented, passionate college student and photographer in London who has big dreams to make an artistic impact to fight sexual/street harassment. With her culminating project at the University of Arts, she hopes to raise people’s awareness of the low conviction rates of sexual harassment while channeling her interest in fashion. She brings to light some of the most common experiences of young women everywhere through an artistic protest. Read on for a special and fascinating interview with Sya herself and learn about how to get involved.
Was there an event that served as the breaking point for wanting to explore sexual harassment more?
About a month ago a man followed me home after a night out while shouting out things like “I want to go home with you, you’re so beautiful.” Thank God it never became violent, but this event did make me realize: I have to do this project, even if it only creates awareness on a small level. Before this, I’ve always used my photography to criticize the roles of women in our society, yet I didn’t how to turn it into a project. I always thought of it as a very important but very sensitive subject and so decided to wait until it was the right timing for me and society. There is a lot going on about this in the news now, which makes it so much more interesting to explore.
How did you get into photography? Was this always a medium you wanted to use?
Yes, my love for photography started around the age of 15 when I got my first digital camera. And when I started my BA in Photography at the University of the Arts in Utrecht 3 years later, I found that this was a medium that I could use to express my opinion. You could make beautiful images that you may want to buy for your living room but that never loses that underlying critical concept. Hopefully it makes the viewer think about what is going on in our society.
Who do you want to influence with your finished project? Who is your target audience for this?
Sexual harassment survivors and their friends and family, as well as all the other people that have a strong opinion about sexual harassment without ever experiencing it. I’m definitely not targeting rapists or offenders, because these are just sick people and I know that an art project won’t change that. But I do hope that by creating awareness, girls realize that it is not something to be ashamed of.
Why do you think people assume that clothing always serves as an invite for unwanted sexual attention?
It seems to be the easiest excuse. By coincidence, I spoke to a guy in a club in London last weekend, and he sincerely asked me “Why are all the English girls dressed as sluts but don’t act like it?” I don’t know what he said to the girls he approached, but I told him clearly, if you approach a girl like she is a slut, why would she ever feel flattered and actually like you? She may dress in the clothes she likes but it doesn’t mean she takes them off just as easily. Likewise I wasn’t dressed provocatively after my night out when the guy followed me home, and most women in the street, during daylight, aren’t wearing such clothing either. In my opinion every form of sexual harassment is an expression of power, about intimidating and having control over women.
Any empowering words of advice for young women all around the world?
Please do go to the police and tell your story. You never asked to be harassed, even if you are wearing that short skirt. You are not the offender and you didn’t do anything wrong–nothing gives a man the right to harass you. We’re not pieces of meat, we’re human beings.
Contact Sya or message her on Facebook to get involved with her amazing project:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +44 (0)7585934641
I’m not entirely sure if this counts, but I decided to try. I’m fairly young – 15 – and I have a rather large bust. I have gotten negative attention for it since I was in sixth grade, but this is something that has continuously brought me down when I remember it.
I was sitting in my seat before my French class started, wearing a tank top that wasn’t low-cut hidden with a slightly open button-up blouse. I was feeling awesome that day, because I love that outfit and it makes me feel gorgeous. A boy that I’ve known since elementary school walked in, and my seat’s back is to the door, so I didn’t realize it. He was holding his keys for some reason; they were on a lanyard (that’s important). He had been poking me and being perverted for a while, so he decided to walk in and put his keys down my shirt. He held them by the lanyard and slid them down my shirt, then back up. That’s one of the most brazen things anybody’s ever done to me, so I was shocked. He started laughing, and I told him I could report him for that. He simply laughed again and said, “No you can’t, it wasn’t my hand.”
I told my teacher, who reported it and said they would call me to the office to take a statement. That was five months before school ended. School is out and they STILL haven’t addressed it.