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What do you do when a friend harasses you?
I have faced a great deal of harassment – verbal and physical – from strangers, while walking down the street, traveling in buses and trains, at college and at work, in Mumbai and Bangalore. When a stranger is involved, it is easy to fight back; and the incident, while not forgotten, doesn’t matter quite as much after some time. But when someone you consider a friend, someone you trust, treats you like a piece of meat, it becomes really difficult to deal with.
I was on a short holiday with a mixed group of nature-enthusiast friends at a wildlife reserve some months ago. While intently watching and trying to identify some butterflies at one point, I felt someone touch my butt. It could only have been the person standing behind me – a man almost 18 years younger, who was a regular member of our group trips. At age 43, I really thought that I was done with stuff like this – and that too by a person I knew and trusted? I did not react, as I couldn’t believe what had happened – I tried to rationalize the incident, wondering if it could have been an accident, a mistake, anything! But the next day, it happened again – just at the moment when all of us were watching an exciting bird! I had been careful to stay away from him, but at that moment, all of us converged on the same point to look at this bird – he happened to be behind me again, and in an instant, touched me on the butt again. Now, I did not have any doubt about the act, or that it was purposefully executed.
But I still could not bring myself to confront him, or to tell anyone else about it. This is the worst thing about being harassed by someone one knows – one feels greater embarrassment at the prospect of being disbelieved, than at the act itself. Maybe this was the mistake I made. I continued to behave normally till we got back home, and mulled over how to tackle the issue.
I decided to confide in the female members of my group, and also a few other friends. While some unhesitatingly believed me, some of those who were good friends with him, did not. Not only that, I was told that I should have confronted him there and then. While that is very easy to say, only someone who has faced harassment from a known person will be able to understand my state of mind. I also found out that I was not his only victim, someone else had also faced this problem, but refused to identify herself and speak up openly about it. Some of my friends confronted him with my accusation, and he, of course, denied it vehemently. And they found no reason to disbelieve him. I don’t understand this at all – why believe him over me? After all, women are supposed to stick together and support one another, right?
As it stands now, many of my friends continue to socialize with him in spite of my having told them about this incident. I am the one who has to take the trouble to find out where I may run into him, and avoid such events. Also, I can feel a definite cooling off in some of my friends’ behaviour towards me. In the end, I am not only the victim, I am also paying the price for talking about the incident.
So, my question is, what does one do if harassed by a ‘friend’?
Submitted by Uma
After traveling extensively, a year ago I decided to set up and stay put here for awhile.
Every time I leave the house either going to work at 8am, going to the gym, out for an occasion without fail a man or a group, will say or do something in a derogatory and sexist way that quiet frankly makes me feel uncomfortable and somewhat abused!
I’m sick of being looked at or wolf whistled at or being called “baby” and “sexy” like a piece of meat.
Just last weekend I was walking in Bethnal Green at about 8 o’clock at night on a Saturday wearing jeans and a jacket when a car with a man pulled up beside me for about 200 meters asking if I was looking for business and “how much”, I ignored him until he kept persisting until I replied “no, go away”. He continued to follow me yelling in another language with every now and then adding in a “fucking” and a “slut”.
Stuff like this happens all the time, I won’t even leave the house with a short dress or shorts on, despite this being a country of freedom, with fear that I will cause myself unnecessary attention. It doesn’t matter if I am with my boyfriend even, it still happens! Where is the freedom in that? Honestly I have been to some Middle Eastern countries where women hold little status in society and this I can compare it to. WHAT THE HELL! What Country am I in? I have no rights and their isn’t a damn thing I can do beside put my head down and walk on and put up with it.
Submitted by Naomi.
This happened in 2000, I was waiting for the mid-night train to Amsterdam in the Berlin U-bahnhof McDonald’s. This McDonald’s had two floors, the first floor was the kitchen, the second floor had bathrooms. In Europe, McDonald’s and Burger King have free bathrooms, so I took advantage of this by sitting next to them. While waiting for my train, two drunk German men walk by me and then scoot into my booth and start speaking to me. I tell them “No spreche Deutsch,” point to my watch and get out to leave. Instead of heading to the platforms I decide to use the bathroom. While I’m in the ladies room, one of the drunk German’s come in and start banging on the stall door. I proceed to scream as loud as I can and hold the door shut. Luckily he left, I waited for a few minutes grabbed something out of my bag to use as a weapon and then proceed to run out of the bathroom as fast as I could. I saw him out of the corner of my eye being consoled by his friend. I ran and hid in the baggage locker section. At midnight I caught the train to Amsterdam. Looking back I wished I had gone to the police or the manager of the McDonald’s. What I realize from this experience is there needs to be talk about these situations or how to react so as to prevent this from happening to other women.
Submitted by Blaire
I was taking my first ride on a London double decker bus. I was pretty happy and excited.
I was alone on the top of the bus as it wasn’t that warm outside.
A man came up the stairs and sat down right beside me. My mind did throw up warning flags; why is he sitting right next to me, there are plenty of seats? But I wasn’t prepared to hate/distrust him immediately, I was young and I had been raised to be polite. I’m older now, if this happened to me today I would immediately rise and walk to a seat behind/next to the driver.
Anyway, the man was talking to me about London and then said; “Oh, I like your necklace (I was wearing a pendant)and reaching out he grabbed, not my necklace, but my breast. I was speachless, but now I did get up out of my seat and walked downstairs. I was shaken up though and instead of my planned trip to the Victoria and Albert Mueum I got off of the bus and hailed a taxi back to my friend’s home.
Submitted by Karen.
Walking with my younger sister when a man screamed out his window “Suck My Dick.” It was dark or we would have gotten his plate number.
Submitted by Leila.
From the desk of global think-tank State Rep Bobby Franklin comes a bold, useful new idea Georgia taxpayers have been waiting for. The same thought leader that brought us House Bill 14—a bill proposing that victims of rape be referred to as “accusers” of rape until the defendant is found guilty—Bobby Franklin’s new bill would require women to file a police report when they miscarry. If the womb is determined to be a potential crime scene, its female owner could be arrested for murder.
But does this law go far enough?
Franklin’s degree in Biblical Studies from Convenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia has bequeathed him the medical superpowers necessary to come up with this scientifically astounding womb-murder theory but his hypothesis leaves out one central question that my degree in Murder Mystery Novels Studies with Online Google Medical Diagnosis Certificate tells me is a valid concern: What about bad jizz?
Therefore, please join us in petitioning Mr. Franklin to hear our voices from around the world. We, the constituents of Hollaback International, would like to propose an amendment to your bill, Mr. Franklin sir. In addition to criminalizing women for inhospitable tubes, channels, and uteri, we would also like to ask that the bill specifically address and include penalties for male owners of FAULTY SEMEN, corn syrup sperm, whatever you want to call it. Many of us who have spent years trying to conceive and carry to term cannot be expected to shoulder the full blame: where is justice for the male owners of tadpoles that just can’t—or won’t—perform? Where is the outrage?
And while we’re at it, we would like to call God to the bench, too. He is probably in on this conspiracy to murder sperm and fertilized eggs, just like he does every day with thousands of people around the world. He murdered my grandma with cancer, my grandfather with a heart attack, my great grandfather with old age, my great grandmother with pneumonia, my great great grandparents with health problems, my ancestors with sickness, their ancestors with illness, their ancestors with other sickness, more ancestors with still more illness and death, the dinosaurs with global climate change, supernova stars with explosion-murders and so on and so forth. There is absolutely no justice for God the murderer. Is there no justice in this world at all?
For a template you can use to send Bobby Franklin your warmest regards, please see here.
This happened a long time ago, but I remember it vividly because it was the very first time I hollaed back.
I was 18 and living in Paris at the time, and as all Parisians, used the subway to get pretty much anywhere. I was coming back from a long cramming session at the university library, mid-terms were coming up and I was studying non stop. It was around 23h30, when a bulky bald man sat next me. I smiled quickly and went back to my book. A few minutes later, I felt something against my leg; I was wearing a skirt and tights. When I looked down at my thigh, I saw a finger circling a certain spot on my leg. I was confused for a few seconds, I looked at the man’s face and he was looking forwards as if nothing was happening. The subway wasn’t crowded, the guy wasn’t even worried about getting caught.
I stood up and ordered him to keep his filthy paws to himself, and told him I was going to contact security as soon as we reached the next stop. I was speaking loudly, making it a point of others hearing, although I don’t do that often. I was just so angry and disgusted. I told him I might have been barely eighteen but I was big to enough to stand up for myself and to know that there was no justification for his behavior. At that point he tried to get off the subway, and another passenger stepped in and told the guy he had already pressed the emergency button and security would be there in a few minutes. That same guy offered to escort me to my stop, I quote “but I’m pretty sure you don’t need it, I wish more women did what you did”.
Since that day I always answer back. Why is it that we are made to believe that answering back is rude or a sign of lack of class, and don’t even consider the behavior that prompted such reaction in the first place?
There is nothing rude about reminding a jerk that you are not an inflatable doll with no brain or willpower. Holla back every single time!
Submitted by Patricia Camelo
I’m 40 damn years old. I thought by now I’d get a break from this crap.
Went into supermarket the other day. At front door saw a man I sort of knew, he was at a booth selling phone plans. I recognized him as the husband of one of my husband’s associates, if that makes sense. The four of us had had drinks together a few months ago.
Because of that connection, I gave him a fulsome “Hey, how you doing?” and stopped to chat. He took the opportunity to say, “Wow, don’t you look good enough to eat? All fit and everything too, wow and you’re stopping to talk to me, whoa how sexy.” Giving me the creepy up-and-down stare and licking his lips.
I was dumbstruck. Seriously, I stood there saying, “What?” Like, was that a joke gone wrong? Had I misheard?
He said, “Have we met?” and I said, “Yeah, my husband and I had drinks with you and your wife. Your wife and my husband are on the town council together.”
He was like, “Yeah, uh, we’re not together anymore.” BIG SURPRISE. Clearly he couldn’t remember meeting me. Maybe he’s a drunk, or crazy. Who knows. (He actually seemed funny and perfectly nice that night we all went out. Go figure.)
I could kick myself: I should have just turned on my heel and left, but I felt so bad for him I let him give me one of the little phone pamphlets before I left.
Fast forward to today: I have to pop in the supermarket. Just as I was pulling in the parking lot I thought, crap, what if creepy guy’s there? Oh well, if I change my shopping schedule, the terrorists have won.
Sure enough, there he is, in his little booth at the entrance. He waved and I gave him the breeze-by, and I heard him shouting after me. Good lord. Then, I’m doing my shopping, and I see him hurry around a corner, notice me, and then come trotting up to me.
Dude accosts me at the damn dairy counter, saying, “Is something wrong?”
I didn’t look at him, but used my Mom Voice to say, “EXCUSE ME PLEASE” while turning and walking away. I decided that if he followed me I would go to security. He didn’t.
Now, I’ve dealt with way way worse, as have most of you. Somehow it just gave me a flashback to all those times of being groped and having strangers or acquaintances accost me and ask to cum on my tits or whatever, for years and years. Can I ever get a rest from it?
Submitted by Iola
What’s in a name?
Words are powerful. They can educate and empower, express and encourage. Words can forge relationships and build bridges. But despite their awesome ability to strengthen, they can also dismantle and destroy when they’re used as weapons. Stick and stones can break your bones, but words will never hurt me? Tell that to anyone who’s ever been verbally bullied, abused, or harassed. There is gravity in words.
Changing the word “victim” to “accuser” until convictions are obtained in cases of rape, domestic violence, and stalking – as Rep. Bobby Franklin’s proposed House Bill 14 in Georgia seeks to do – tells survivors that not even the government believes their story. Basically, the rapists, stalkers, and abusers are innocent until proven guilty, but the survivors are on trial as soon as they report the crime. And for the record, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis, only 39% of rape survivors do report the crime – and of those, only half will result in a conviction. Those whose cases didn’t result in guilty verdict? Forget everything that can go wrong in a trial or the sphere of influence your attacker might have (Cough, cough Ben Roethlisberger) – Rep. Franklin thinks you’re just dirty, rotten liars who imagined the whole thing or are just out to ruin a perfectly good dude’s life. (In case you’re keeping a journal of Franklin’s opinions, he also considers gays to be “unrepentant drug dealers.” An elected official, ladies and gentlemen.)
A dangerous bill like this would be yet another deterrent in survivors reporting their crimes, and that results in more criminals living freely in our communities. (Makes you feel safe, doesn’t it?) It’s not just registered Georgia voters like me who feel outraged by this nonsense. A change.org petition proves that frustration is being felt from Illinois all the way to Israel. And while House Bill 14 may not pass, Rep. Franklin should know that we are not giving our consent for any attack on justice for victims that our officials might attempt to make – and we’re not lying about that.