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Last night on my subway ride home, a man sat down across from me and spit on me. When I asked what his problem was he threatened to beat me and spit in my face. I walked to the other end of the car as he yelled obscenities and threats at me. He was a totally normal looking guy in his early 20’s. I have no idea if he was drunk, high, insane, or just an angry terrible person. No one on the train had my back or asked if I was alright, even though it was obvious what was going on. I don’t normally have a problem standing up for myself, but I felt genuinely threatened by the situation and didn’t feel like there was anything I could do about it except change cars at the next station. I just hope that this guy doesn’t ride my train line regularly.
Once I was with my best friend on the streetcar (in Toronto) and this old(ish) man approached us and started talking to us. I find it very hard to simply ignore people when they do this and he just seemed like a harmless, lonely old man. Then he started asking us if we’d go to dinner with him. We politely declined. Then he started asking if he could pay us 1000$ each to just have dinner with him. We kept declining, and his offers just kept escalating until he was offering 2500$ each to bring us up to his apartment so we could meet his female friend Kitty.
Since we had just been taking the streetcar for fun we decided to get off. He followed.
He kept walking beside us and talking, not being overly threatening, but I was sure to keep myself in between him and my friend (she’s two years younger, and I have a black belt in karate so I know I could handle myself).
She then bumped into something and said “ow” to which he responded “oh don’t worry girls, I won’t hurt you” – then he grabbed my arm and continued “well, I might”.
At this I just knew we had to get away from him. I tried to mouth the word “HELP” to passers by. I made eye contact with numerous people (including three guys who looked like they could have been College football players) but none took notice. I even thought about running up to one of these guys and pretending that I knew them. I didn’t though.
We were in a somewhat chic neighbourhood, and the only places around were expensive lunch restaurants, and our misplaced sense of decency made us not want to disturb people’s meals.
Then we passed by this upscale salon and someone was handing out flyers at the front door. We walked over and each took one and tried to strike up a conversation. Then the old man started talking to this flyer guy. This was our out we thought! We snuck behind him and walked briskly to a corner store just up the street.
Once in the corner store we both looked shook up and the owner of the store asked us if anything was wrong. I quickly told him to call 911 (which he did not) and that a man had followed us off the streetcar and we were trying to get away, but before I could finish the old man walked in and walked straight towards us.
He turned to the owner and said “these are my daughters! This one’s a pilot” – he said pointing to me “and this one’s a nurse” – he said pointing to my friend.
-let me just say that my name is Amelia, like Amelia Earhart, which I hadn’t told him. As well my mom wanted to be a pilot when she went to military college but being a woman she wasn’t allowed. And my friend’s mother is a nurse. Just a really weird coincidence… anyway…
Since he was situated in front of us we were both shaking our heads vigorously to let this store owner know that this was not the truth (plus we were both obviously in our teens, so being a pilot and a nurse was a little out there).
He distracted the man enough that his son could sneak us out of the back of the store. The son escorted us to Bathurst, and from there we walked quite briskly down to Queen street. I don’t know if the police were ever called, but this guy was definitely creepy. At certain points I was sure that if he had found the chance he would have tried something horrible.
Submitted by Amelia
I was walking out of work one night. It was around 9 pm on a Sunday. As I started down the street towards the subway, I saw a group of guys come out of a club next the my work’s building. I didn’t really think much of it, because it is New York City.
When I got a little closer, they started hollering at me, and one guy came up to me and started saying things like “Listen, all these brothers want to fuck you right now, right here, okay? They want to fuck you so hard…”
I told the guy to screw off, and I crossed the street. They they followed me. This was a group of about 15 guys, and I am one 125 lb girl, and I don’t get scared that easily, but I felt like it was time to run. When they started trying to grab at me, it was absolutely time to leave. So I took off in the other direction, and ran into the Trader Joe’s on 6th Ave. They didn’t follow me.
Now here’s my question. There were three clubs on that street with bouncers standing outside of them- including the club that these guys had come out of. Where were the bouncers, and why didn’t they help me?
Submitted by Alex
I was visiting Valencia in Spain for the festival Las Fallas. Like with the reporter in Egypt, the streets were completely packed with people. Everyone was squeezed together, and as I was squeezing through, numerous men groped me, one even getting his hand almost all the way down my pants.
Submitted by Deanna
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’m often verbally harassed at gas stations by customers who tell me I “look like a video girl” while wearing a work uniform of khakis and a baggy t-shirt. A gas station employee twice my age offered to pay for my gas as he was bagging trash. Homeless men frequently “holler” as well. During a road trip with a girlfriend two men approached us as we were pumping gas and asked, “What are you two sexy girls doing in the middle of nowhere all alone?” I was terrified. Once an elderly man in a wheelchair blocked my way out of a Goodwill then FOLLOWED ME TO MY CAR, harassing me for twenty minutes insisting I “leave my boyfriend for a real man”. During a walk with my boyfriend a pick-up sped by and someone screamed, “FUCK HER IN THE ASS.” I used to wear a fake wedding ring while working to avoid harassment. It was ineffective. In fact, it may have made it worse. I almost snapped recently while walking out of Publix after purchasing diapers for my newborn son, when two men started heckling me. Instead of dropping multiple f-bombs I ignored them completely. I’ve been told to smile too many times to count, touched/grabbed forcefully while waiting tables, and much much more. It’s the equivalent of beating a dead dog.
Submitted by Jimi
I was leaving Cosi when a young man (probably in his mid 20s) approached me. He said, “nice pussy” and reached out to grab mine. I simply blocked his hand and stared him down until he broke eye contact. I continued on my way, and looked back to see that he was still standing there. I guess he didn’t get the reaction he anticipated.
I didn’t speak to him, but if I could, here’s what I would say:
“Damn right, I have a nice pussy. But you will never get anywhere near it.”
Submitted by Kate
It’s 5:15pm on New Year’s Eve. I just get off the subway from work, and I’m walking home. An older man, in his mid 50’s, looks at me and as he passes says: “Oh, she’s got hips on her — don’t let the little (something) fool you.” The man behind him, not sure if they were together, also in his mid 50’s, passes me with his elbow out to the side and says “Hey!” as he jabs me in the shoulder. I turn around, dumbfounded and unable to find words, and give him a dirty look. He says “this is New York!” as I turn the corner.
This encounter was enough to get me looking on Craigslist for a new apartment. I know that street harassment will follow me wherever I go, unfortunately, but it has never been as bad for me as it is where I live now.
Submitted by Diane
So this website has brought back all these memories through the years and given me the courage to contact offenders that I was not able to confront at the time. One was a grad school professor who stuck his finger up my butt while standing in line with him in the cafeteria. It was the grossest thing. I was so shocked and humiliated, but weirdly turned around smiling as though it was a joke and said something like “there are laws against that you know, ha ha” My response so sickens me now that I sent the following e-mail to him last week. Thanks Hollaback for giving me the courage to set the record straight.
E-mail I wrote to my long ago offender:
I should have slapped the shit out of you and started yelling at the top of my lungs “This asshole pervert just stuck his finger in my ass and I’m turning him over to the authorities.” You fucking bastard. We were in line at the cafeteria at USC. At the age of 30-something I’d not yet learned to stand up to sexual harassment in a way that was helpful. You have probably forgotten what you did to me, but if you are still sexually assaulting your female students I hope to God you’ve gotten what you deserve from at least one or two of them.
For some reason you hated me–I guess because I didn’t worship you. Your class was terrifying for me. I’d never done improv. You seemed to pick up on that, had no compassion or even the slightest interest in understanding my fear as your student of acting. You had all the power, Stephen. I know because I went on to be a university director and teacher. Then to make it worse, you made it your mission to humiliate me every chance you got.
I was in the MFA class of 1986 at USC. I took one year of your Improv class and then got released from it because it was so upsetting to me. I also remember you STILL treating me like shit year’s later at [ ]’s wedding. I don’t know why I was even at your table at the reception, but I was. What was your fucking problem with me? I should have cornered you and confronted you then.
I needed to get this off my chest because every time I get the USC alumni magazine, that memory comes back and I feel ashamed. NO MORE. You can have the shame because you are the only one who did anything wrong.
I deserve an apology and you deserve to have been reported.
I rather doubt you are man enough to even consider making amends. So be it. I’m having a damn good life surrounded by people who love and appreciate me and you, my dear, can go to hell.
Submitted by circe1223
A few weeks ago I was sexually assaulted at a company holiday party by someone I regarded as a friend. I was verbally harassed, pinned against a wall and touched inappropriately. When it happened I couldn’t move, I felt so helpless, but whether by my instincts or him releasing me, I got away. I was lucky that it wasn’t worse and have reported the incident to my superior. The issue is now being dealt with by corporate and this guy is suspended and most likely going to be terminated. I’ve also since learned that before me that night, he sexually/verbally harassed at least two other women. This guy is a pig and doesn’t even remember his attack on me, so while he gets to imagine what happened, I have to deal with this bullshit and re-build my confidence.
The day after this happened, I left my apartment once during the day to get soup and bread. I was wearing work out pants and a hoodie; as I was walking down the street, this guy walks by me tells me ‘nice body’. I wanted to scream and scream at him. I have never felt so vulnerable in my life and then I have this guy ‘compliment’ me like I am some piece of meat? It was like adding salt to the wound.
Actions and comments like this need need to be recognized as socially unacceptable and it’s important for women (or anyone!) to speak out against this behavior. No one deserves to be objectified and harassed.
Submitted by Natalie.