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My story may technically fall under “domestic violence” but I think once you air your dirty laundry in public it deserves come under censure.
I was walking through my boyfriend’s apartment complex, headed towards his unit when I heard angry screaming echoing through the parking lot. I stopped walking, wondering if I could make out what was going on and didn’t have to look far before I noticed a girl sitting behind the wheel of a parked car, sobbing her eyes out. All the yelling was coming from her passenger seat. I was immediately concerned even though I didn’t know what was going on, but it looked and sounded like she was getting verbally attacked. So I head back to my car, hoping to buy some time and see if I needed to call authorities. Some scary guy is walking in and out of her car, screaming insults at her, making a scene, and even brought his room mate out to the car so he could justify whatever tirade he was on about (She had called him a liar or something? I would have called him unstable).
It’s only been 30 seconds or so, but I’ve already decided to call security when I see him grab her face, yelling “Look at me! Look at me, bitch!” I was so angry by this point I stomped over and started yelling HEY to get his attention off of her. It worked, probably a little too well. Luckily we were on opposite sides of the car but that didn’t stop him from trying to scare me too. Calling me names, and saying how this was none of my business. I said none of that mattered and “You DON’T. TOUCH. HER.” and that I’d be calling someone to the scene. Now that I look back, he responded in probably the most ridiculous way possible, “Go ahead and call the cops. I don’t give a fuck! I’ve BEEN in prison before!” If I hadn’t been so mad I might have laughed in his face. I gave him a pointed look, flipped open my phone in the bitchiest way possible, and stomped away to grab the number for security.
When I met the guards a minute later the couple was gone. Luckily, since I’d seen the Screamer pull his friend outside I knew which apartment they lived in. The guards confronted the guys but I saw no sign of the girl. I’m still worried about her and I only hope that by sticking up for her, maybe she’ll learn that no one deserves to be treated like that.
Submitted by Katherine
This happened about 5 years ago. I was going home by the subway, and after Yorkdale station, the cart became really empty, and there were just myself and an older (looked to be in his 60s) man in the cart.
He began by being rather grandfatherly (I was 19, but looked much younger), asking if I go to school, and how my summer was. He then asked if I had a boyfriend. I was rather confused and naive, so I just answered honestly, saying no, I do not. He then smiled really big, went “yeah?”, and proceeded to fondle himself through his pants. I was really scared at this point, but I was sorta paralyzed and just didn’t know what to do. Finally, the train pulled into Downsview station (last one on the line) and I just bolted out the door.
I didn’t tell anyone about this because I rationalized that it wasn’t a big deal, he didn’t touch me, and it’s not like I have any proof. Looking back at it now, I know I should have tried to get a conductor, but the fact that I had no proof still would make me hesitate to tell another stranger.
Another thing that really stuck with me about this incident is how small that man is. His dick was literally the size of my thumb. This information doesn’t have much relevance to the story, but I somehow remember it quite distinctly.
Submitted by Anne
So when I was thirteen years old I lived in a terraced house set back from the road where my bus ran to my high school. At this time, they were building a small housing estate at the end of the road and I had to walk past the construction workers to go pretty much anywhere. The construction went on for forever; I’m pretty sure that they were building until I was about fifteen.
Now construction workers, like white van men, have a general reputation for cat calls and leering, and I developed pretty early, meaning that in the summer, when I walked past them in a tank top and a pair of shorts, a small chorus of wolf whistles and cat calling erupted from the site. Oh shit, I thought, is this going to happen all the time?
It happened more than once, which was bad enough. What was even worse is that they knew I was underage. Maybe they didn’t know exactly how young I was, but I’d walked past in my school uniform, they didn’t have an excuse. I told my mother about it eventually and she stormed down to give the foreman a piece of her mind, to which they responded like a bunch of naughty schoolboys: “Oh no miss, it couldn’t have been us, we’ve been down the other end all week.”
Bollocks, said my mother, you’ve been harassing my thirteen year-old daughter and I won’t stand for it.
The cat-calls stopped after that. I don’t know if it was the discovery that I wasn’t as old as I looked or the fact that my mother is a fierce bitch, but thankfully, it stopped.
Submitted by Milena
I had only recently moved to London from Nova Scotia, Canada, and had even more recently moved out of my cousin’s house in South London and into my own flat in North London. I spent the first few days exploring the area between Turnpike Lane and Seven Sisters stations, as you do in any new area I guess, looking at the shops and grocery stores, etc.
After being in the area for maybe two weeks tops, I was walking to Turnpike Lane station when a guy stepped out of a door stoop by one of the shops on West Green Road and blocked my way. I paused because he was in my way, and he tried to start a conversation about my Remembrance Day poppy. I tried to be polite and move along as I was late, but he was insistent that I *had* to have a conversation with him, and refused to stop blocking my path. Things quickly turned creepy. “I’ve seen you around,” he said, “I know you live in this area. You definitely live nearby. Give me your number, we’ll go clubbing. You’re pretty, you have to.” I had never seen this guy before in my life, and was severely creeped out by the fact that he had obviously been watching me, trying to figure out my routine. I pretended that I didn’t have a cell phone, but he made me write down his number before he’d stop blocking my path and let me continue on my way. No touching, and no verbal abuse, but still terrifying because of his insistence that I owed him something [my number, my time] since he had spent so much time watching me. I pretty much exclusively use Seven Sisters station now.
Submitted by Jade
My friend’s nickname for me is “mama”, because a man called me that on the street once when we were walking together. “Hey mama, how you doing? You’re looking good…”
It’s funny and sweet when she calls me that, but I’ll always remember the origin of the nickname: unsolicited harassment on the street.
Submitted by Ileanna
We are seeking a hard-working, ambitious, and dynamic Program Associate Intern to join our team. Hollaback! is an international movement to end street harassment using digital and mobile technology. Responsibilities include:
1. Researching and drafting our “State of the Streets” report, that will profile progress on street harassment in the areas that we serve;
2. Assist our expansion team in coordinating, training, and launching our second class of Hollaback sites internationally;
3. Research and identify potential individuals donors and foundations; and
4. Other administrative duties as needed.
Interested candidates must have a long-term interest in making the world a better place and a dedication to not just fighting the good fight, but to making genuine impact. The successful candidate will be detail-oriented, a consummate overachiever, able to think strategically, and a good writer.
We currently are accepting applications from students for spring 2011. The estimated time commitment is 15-20 hours per week, and we can offer a $100/month stipend to cover travel. This position takes place at our office, 6 Barclay Place, 6th floor (in the same office as Women’s eNews). You will be supervised directly by Emily May, executive director.
If you are interested, please send a resume, a cover letter, and a writing sample to holla (at) ihollaback.org before Feb. 15th.
I was getting into my car this morning to drive to work and, while throwing my bag into the backseat, I dropped my keys on the ground. There was a traffic debacle waiting in the wings, as a car pulled up behind me to make room for a school bus that was coming in the opposite direction (facing my vehicle). As I squatted down to pick up my keys, someone on the bus yelled “nice ass” out of an open window. I did not see the face of the student, but the sound of the voice was congruent with that of an elementary school student … If I had to venture a guess, I would have placed the student in 4th or 5th grade. Not only did I feel harassed and discounted, but I felt disheartened on a deep level. I have reason to believe that this was a child saying this … trying to impress friends or laxly emulating behavior(s) he has synthesized from any number of people, places, and things. Any way you slice it, it felt terrible for a multitude of reasons.
Submitted by Janet
I was walking in a quiet street when I noticed someone was walking behind me. At first I didn’t pay much notice, but I noticed that when I upped my speed, the person behind me started walking faster as well, and was getting closer to me. Then all of a sudden, I feel a pull on my coat, and in one quick movement this guy just pulls up my skirt and exposes me right in the street. I turned back, stunned, and yelled ‘Jerk!’ while he quickly ran away. I was wearing heels, so it was no use running after him. It was infuriating.
Submitted by Elke
“Hey sexy lady! Check THIS out…”
[Michael Jackson-esque groin thrust in my direction]
‘Ohh please’ I think ‘please wait while I hurry over and give you my phone number, you prehistoric, knuckle-dragging moron’
You may assume that the slimy guy leering at you in the street or beeping his car horn is simply a victim of tragic social ineptitude, but this situation is more sinister. Street harassment ranges from whistles, shouting, and dodgy trouser pocket movements to full blown groping and physical attacks. Where does ‘harmless fun’ end and ‘serious assault’ begin? And exactly how much fun is it for the women who enjoy this uninvited attention?
A victim-blaming culture tends to emerge when we talk about harassment. How many times have you heard someone ask what the woman was wearing when considering a case of sexual violence? I don’t care if she was strutting around naked wearing a pair of stiletto heels, nothing gives one human being the right to attack and violate the personal space (physical or psychological) of another. OK, naked strutting on a Friday night might explain why you get harassed in the UK, but it doesn’t condone it. And what about in Egypt? By this logic we support those who argue that not wearing a veil legitimises physical attacks on women. And – FYI anyone gearing up to have this debate in a pub – the kind of people who dish out the ‘oh but she was in a mini skirt so it’s her own fault she got raped’ argument are often the kind who audibly balk at the idea of Islamic dress codes. The social standards may change, but the argument stays the same – if women don’t wear whatever I think is ‘respectable’, then I have the right to humiliate, intimidate and even hurt them.
This is a story we are all familiar with, and it sucks. Running up against the same outdated responses that demean their significance and often blame the victim, women rarely report these incidents…Until now.
The increasing use of mobile technology and access to the internet has given rise to an interesting phenomenon – people are using cell phones to report harassment and serious sexual attacks in order to alert others, shame perpetrators and, just to be heard, and to have a voice. I don’t yell back if some meat-head shouts obscenities at the bus stop, and it makes me feel small. But reporting it on sites like ihollaback.org gives me a voice again.
In Egypt, blog.harassmap.org uses open source data to create a map of sexual harassment incidents that are experienced by 83% of Egyptian and 98% of foreign women. Users send a text message to central computers and receive resources on how to file a police report, referrals to counselling and more via SMS. Their report is added to data that puts pressure on local authorities to deal with trouble hot spots, and to address a problem that all too often is denied or ignored.
Mobile technology is also being used in Haiti to report gender-based violence, people trafficking and attacks in a country where legal infrastructure is often non-existent. Again, women receive support in the form of referrals, advice, and information, but importantly, their voice is heard and their experience recorded.
Gender-based violence, which is on the rise in the UK (UK Home Office 2011) relies on all of us ignoring and accepting these incidents. Shrugging off the remarks of an obnoxious drunk in a bar might seem OK at the time, but it normalises behaviour that leads to a climate of fear, silence and oppression. Using mobile technology, women can report in safety and confidence, finding help but also finding their voice.
Hollaback welcomes the New Year with strength. We continue to grow and we are rapidly covering the globe. We are experiencing exciting times.
As a result of its international expansion, Hollaback has decided it is time to pass the torch at the local level (NYC) and give 10 youth (ages 18-22) the opportunity to become the leaders of HollabackNYC. We seek a diverse group of youth from the different neighborhoods of NYC, who are committed to making social change. Youth who are eager to learn and are able to invest at least 10 hours a week to this process. The new leadership of HollabackNYC will receive training in social media, community organizing, policy/advocacy, and marketing. They will also become part of an international movement that will broaden their networks and aid their development as agents of social change.
We are excited to be in this recruitment process and to move forward in solidifying youth leadership to continue to build the movement against street harassment. Help us create this pool of youth leaders and spread the news. Our recruitment flyer and our short application are available here for download: Info flyer and iHollabackApplication. If you need more information contact Claudia De la Cruz at [email protected].
Spread the word… HollabackNYC is on the move!