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When was the first time you were harassed?
This year, we partnered with an amazing fourth grade classroom to talk about street harassment, personal space, and safety while creating #ensh artwork.
Starting on #givingtuesday, with every $500 we raise, we’re putting up one of their posters – with the goal of fully covering a public wall with their art! The campaign will run until December 31st – so please give today!
I was 9 months pregnant, and sitting in my parked car at the side of the road preparing to heave my huge baby belly out of the seat and into my home. A car drive past and someone yelled ‘fat bitch!’ at me. I got really upset, due in part to the hormones but also I’ve always been sensitive about my weight even outside of pregnancy. I couldn’t help welling up with tears and to make it worse, my boyfriend who was in the car with me just got annoyed and told me not to be so stupid and sensitive. Even now, 5 years later (during which I’ve not been catcalled once) that memory still gets to me.
At around 5:45 yesterday I stopped to pick up some cleaning supplies and dinner about 4 blocks from my apartment on my way home from work. I decided to take the bus home and waited with a mixed group of about 8 people. A man approached me and offered to “keep me warm” and I ignored him. He watched me for about 5 minutes and then grabbed my arm, insisting it was too cold for me outside. I said “Please don’t touch me. I don’t know you.” He started screaming at me, saying things like “As big as you are? You’re lucky anyone is touching you!” I kept ignoring it. He walked up to the young man next to me and said loudly “I’m gonna go with her and show her not to disrespect men like that!” No one said anything so I went inside a nearby shop and asked to speak with a manager. Only then did I learn that a policeman had seen the entire thing and decided not to intervene. Instead, the cop just told me I did everything right and should take the next bus home. I left my food on the sidewalk and took the next bus home. I’m 22, 5 feet tall, and was wearing a medical boot for a broken ankle. I needed help and I still feel vulnerable.
I am 15 and had a school exchange to Italy. In the first couple days I was in Rome, taking in all the sites. I wanted to walk around by myself when we had time to ourself to shop. I walked quite a while away from where we were allowed to go and since I didn’t know the city well enough I got lost. I stopped at an information centre on one very busy street. The guy helping me said I was very beautiful and he wanted to kiss me and asked me where I live and how long I was in Italy for. I lied. But was very polite because I thought he might get angry and follow me. He even spoke to other people and gave them directions while he told me to wait. He wasn’t giving me directions to where I wanted to go so I said I was alright and began to leave then he gave me directions. He then nodded at someone behind me so I got scared and thought if I left someone would follow me. I left and was very scared, the path he showed me had some dark streets but I began to run when I saw the logo of his information place on the side of a van near me, afraid I ran into stores and asked strangers to show me the way. A very nice american group was going to the same place as me and have me directions. I was so unbelievably scared for my life and I was only 15. It was the worst experience and the way this man made me feel was horrible….
While on the phone with a friend outside a bar, a man who was a complete stranger grabbed me around my waist proceeding to ask me a question.. I responded with, “don’t fucking touch me.” He responded by yelling and calling me a fucking psycho. I don’t know if not wanting to be grabbed by a complete stranger makes me a psycho.. But that’s just me.
i was walking in pioneer square around 11am
On November 3rd I was told to smile by one guy (no one owes you shit especially when you’re a creeper) and lousily hit on and stared at by another creeper when I was just walking to the office fully clothed in my winter attire. Next time if I feel safe I’ll take their photos
My boyfriend and I were on the 19 San Bruno bus going to Safeway. the bus was pretty full so he stood next to me in the aisle while I sat next to a stranger. the person next to me got off the bus so I moved over into the window seat and crossed my legs, putting my foot on the seat next to me to briefly save it for my boyfriend. before he could sit down, a man who had been sitting across the aisle, got out of his own seat, barged in front of my boyfriend, and sat down right on my foot! I said “excuse me I was saving this seat so my boyfriend could sit with me why did you have to get out of your own seat to sit next to me?” and also, y’know, get off my foot! he stood up, grabbed my leg hard, and roughly pulled it off the seat. then he leaned over me and literally uncrossed my legs with his hands, pulling them apart, and placing my foot on the floor. I tried to resist and keep my leg in place but he was being very rough and forceful using all of his strength to reposition me like some sort of doll. when he was done he just sat back down next to me and looked straight ahead like nothing had happened. I tried to say something but I was in shock and instead I just burst into tears. my boyfriend yelled “what the hell is wrong with you!? you don’t put your hands on her!” and then took my hand and helped me step over the guy (he made no effort to get out of my way) and into the aisle. two people in back kindly gave up their seats for us. I struggle with PTSD because I was raped in the past, and I do not like it when strangers touch me at all, but especially the way this man pulled my legs apart to uncross them while I physically resisted was very triggering to me. I couldn’t stop crying and shaking until we got off the bus. I felt so unbelievably powerless, violated, and objectified… like I was some kind of mannequin or ragdoll whose body is just an object to be posed and positioned at whim. it ruined my day.
I’ve only had two particularly bad instances of street harassment. There was one time I was walking to the charity shop I worked at at the weekend (bear in mind this was at around 9 in the morning) and one man who looked about 50 got all up in my personal space and said “hey sexy what’s your name” – I ignored him and tried to get past him but he kept blocking my way and leering at me. When I eventually got past he grabbed my arm and pulled me back to him so I had to physically shove him off me, which he responded to by hurling slurs and derogatory comments at me and spitting as I speed walked as fast as I could away from him. There was also another instance where I was doing this crappy minimum wage morning job handing out flyers for a pasta place in town and as I was working these two men decided that it would be an appropriate time for them to try it on with me. Again, they both looked old enough to be my dad. They said things like “hey gorgeous is your number on this flyer?” and “you’re too pretty to be doing this – you should be modelling” but when I ignored them and kept working they switched to more sexually explicit comments about my body and what they’d like to do to it, and they started trying to touch my face and my bum. When I told them to get the f away from me I got in trouble with my manager for being rude to potential customers. I actually quit that job because of the amount of harassment I received. Both times were in broad daylight on busy streets and I was under 18.
So I was walking back from one of my classes that I take about 5 minutes away from the dorm I live in. I rode my bike that day and was wearing a nice white dress. It had started raining so I was walking my bike so I didn’t get mud all over my dress. As I was walking my bike a man standing outside smoking said “You should get a wheel guard for your bike, wouldn’t want to get mud up that pretty white dress” I felt like this was more than just an innocent friendly suggestion. I was very embarrassed and just kept walking. As I approached the bus stop I met the eyes of an older man. I smiled politely only to be met with “Nice legs, and the rest of your body is good too.” I was so shocked. I told him “You can’t just say that to me.” to which he replied “Yes I can.” I was so afraid I got on my bike and quickly rode back not caring if I got mud all over my dress. At first I felt guilty but then I realized what I wear is not an invitation to talk to me especially if it will make me uncomfortable or feel unsafe.
I was running errands in town, and because parking is limited was doing most of it on foot. as I was nearing the bank, a man was saying terrible things to his young female child and using the situation to intimidate the women who looked up in dismay. He shouted at the toddler to intimidate the crowd. “don’t even bother looking at them, they ain’t going to help you, they don’t care about you,” was how he addressed the crowd and made eye contact with the crowd inbetween saying awful sexiest things to a baby girl who could not be older than 4.
people were staring, and I was disgusted. So I said to him very politely and sternly that is inappropriate to act that way in public or at home would you please stop.
the man, who was very tall, proceded to describe how he was going to follow me home and kill me. he used very derogatory terms toward me, hinted that he was going to rape me and in a very short time frame did everything he could to frighten intimidate me.
so I whipped out my cell phone press record and held it right up in the air. And I said something along the lines of “what an interesting conversation why don’t we share it with the local police department.”
at that point I said “I believe you just threatened me and I need to respond in some way,” but then he grabbed his little girl and was running away.
before I moved away from Binghamton, New York, I saw that pattern a lot. Where men who were caretakers of little girls would say awful things to the little girls in public and look around challenging people to do something about it. It was one of the sickest things I think a person can do, using a little child to try to show how tough they are by emotionally destroying that child in public.
each time I had those interactions I would always whip out my cell phone and the guy who was threatening to kill me, rape me, sodomize me, f*** my skull, etc, would immediately get silent and either run away or walk away very quickly.
I think it is important to point out that street harassment occurs to little girls who don’t know what it is and have no voice within this discussion. instead of strangers, children get it from family members and friends who use the public venue to power trip on harming little children.