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I was riding the C train from work late a while ago. When the train reached Penn Station a bunch of rowdy guys in their late teens/early twenties hopped on. They were looking at me and talking about me, my hair, etc. I was, needless uncomfortable.
I moved and, like an idiot, I meekly smiled at the person who was sitting across from me- a man with a kind of badge around his neck (something that may have indicated he was developmentally challenged). I think I just wanted to look for a connection in another passenger. Big mistake.
When the train stopped at Spring street I noticed the guy whom I sat across from was behind me. I tried to go through the turning exit but he stopped the gate from moving. He held me there with his forearm. I was frightened and tried to call for help. No one in metro station seemed to be alert. But a voice came from the far end of my platform. “HEY!” a youngish man yelled “Are you okay?”. With that, the guy who had pinned me looked shocked and jumped on the next train that was passing by.
Just someone noticing helps so much. In so many of these stories no one noticing, no one baring witness, is a common theme. Having just one person bare witness to accosting can make such a great difference.
How can people be living, working, traveling about in a city and not pay attention to what is going on around them? Maybe assault on someone else is just too surreal for many people to grasp or feel they can affect.
Submitted by Sarah
Mario Valdiviant, the man literally caught with his pants down (with a condom on, to boot?), will serve time in jail. Hey look! That whole “can’t masturbate or show your ding dong in public” law thing is being enforced! Way to go, New York City! A long overdue HIP HIP HOORAY!
Check out the warning Hollaback gives to other would-be flashers on tonight’s ABC Eyewitness News. And then find us on Facebook and share your thoughts on the city’s response to this incident.
But Mario Valdivia clearly doesn’t. The 51 year old Queens subway flasher picked the wrong tree, and after footage of his illegal adventure was captured by a bystander and published to YouTube, this monkey got busted. The video went viral, and Mr. Valdivia has been charged with forcible touching, public lewdness, and sex abuse. Insert slow clap with loud, strong, rising crescendo applause and hour-long standing ovation here.
HollaHERO, hear us ROAR. This story has several heros, and let us thank them for their good work: the amazing woman, who has become a voice for all that is HollaFabulous, the quick and timely investigative work on the part of the bystanders (and the cameraman’s request to ‘hey man, let me see your penis!’), and finally and very importantly, the serious NYPD action.
We hope all instances of sexual assault and abuse such as this one won’t require a viral video and subsequent prime time television coverage in order to be taken seriously, but we can celebrate a good thing when we see it.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. Enjoy the CBS report here:
My two girlfriends and I were walking toward the Hotel Rivington on Friday night. We passed by a group of three guys who were catcalling at us and one of them grabbed my arm as I walked by. I said, “Ew” and shook him off. When we walked away, one of them shouted, “Go study for your SATs fucking Chinese bitch.”
I marched up to him and his friends and told them not to call me a bitch. The one who called me a Chinese bitch, who was probably about 6’2″ and over 200 pounds (I am just over 100 pounds) shoved me two or three times – hard. I was yelling things like, “Oh, you’re going to push me? You’re going to push a girl?” He kept threatening to hit me, and he threatened to sic his professional boxer friend on me who he said would basically beat me to a pulp.
Then he spat in my face and bolted.
My biggest regret is not getting his name or photo.
Submitted by Andrea
I was celebrating my birthday at a bar with friends, and over the course of the night many people unknown to me would come up to say hello or to wish me a happy birthday. Near the end of the night, I was sitting in a booth with a male friend when some guy came over to our table. He eyed me and leaned forward, and since his lips were moving I thought he was trying to talk and I couldn’t hear him because of the loud noise in the bar. I also leaned forward, with my finger to my ear, when he reached over, climbing over my friend, and started kissing me, using his free hand to move my face so he could make out with me. I pushed him away and said “no”, but he leaned in again, making kissing gestures. The next time I said “no”, I put my hand in his face. My friend inched closer to me and put his arm around me, hoping to give the guy a hint, but the guy just kept leaning over me. I again put my hand in his face and shouted “no”. He said, “What’s wrong? Do you think I’m a fag? Are you calling me a fag?” I told him he needed to leave, to get away from our table. He got angry and put both hands on our table, and my friend started to get up to confront the guy. One of the bartenders came over just then, and although I couldn’t hear their conversation, I’m pretty sure she had words with him, because a couple minutes later the guy was gone. I was a bit shaken up, and while I appreciate that my friend wanted to defend me, I’m glad I was able to clearly and effectively state “no” for myself.
Submitted by Andrea
In a follow up to her “New Phone Apps Aim to Combat Harassment” article published in the NYT on Monday, reporter and now HollaHERO Karen Zraick publishes her own personal hollaback in today’s City Room blog.
As if we couldn’t have guessed, within hours, there are 47 comments all containing one, two, three, and sometimes more, horrifying stories of women’s own personal experiences with street harassment. And it isn’t over yet. NOW THAT IS ONE HELLUVA HOLLABACK!
“It’s infuriating to see this described as a ‘quality of life issue’, writes one woman. “This isn’t a ‘quality of life’ issue, okay? It’s not my neighbors having a loud party, or a dog barking next door!”
At Hollaback, we couldn’t have said it better.
Now this is one holla the city will NOT be able to ignore. Read Karen’s story and the accompanying comments here.
If I had a dollar for every NYT reporter who has come forward with her own hollaback…well, I wouldn’t have very much money. But if I had $5 from every woman who read this story, including you, now I might have something to talk about…raise us $5?
First, THANK YOU for initiating this movement. I have experienced street attacks on multiple occasions ranging from the words “queer” and “dyke” to having golf balls thrown at me.
I have also experienced a gang attack where people wrote phrases and pictures all over my body while others watched — this was in a home and was never prosecuted. The pictures involved drawings of penises, breasts, and words such as “eat me,” “cunt,” and “enter here.” This evening also involved a rape.
Although this happened in a home and not on the street I bring this up because a) it was unprosecuted suggesting that it is that much more imperative that “we the people” take our streets back, b) it involved bystanders who did nothing, so your movement to get others involved with doing the right thing is encouraging.
I am an activist in my community in Lansing, Michigan — wearing many hats working with teens who are homeless, teens who are bullied (and inactive bystanders), and LGBTIQ youth.
Submitted by Veronica
If verbal harassment is okay, then groping is okay. If groping is okay then violence is okay…where is your boundary? IT ISN’T FREE SPEECH IF SOMEONE IS GETTING HURT. Help us today, show your support with a $5 donation. Thank you.
Well dressed young man, for no apparent reason assaulted me as I was leaving the subway train this a.m. shortly after telling me “you aren’t in Oklahoma anymore.” He had given me the finger while I was on the train, and I had asked him why, he never answered. I was peaceful, and didn’t leave after the gesture, because the train was crowded. When we got to my stop (Fulton street/ Broadway Nassau on the A train)I gestured for him to go in front of me, he refused, and then I walked in front of him to exit the train, at which point he shoved me. I still do not understand the reason for the attack, but it may have been racially motivated.
Submitted by Guelda
In honor of the first-ever NYC Council hearing on street harassment, we are posting the testimonies of high school students who couldn’t be there (the hearing is at 1pm) but were impassioned enough about the issue to submit written testimony.
Hello, my name is Taylor, I’ m a junior in high school and I’ d like to thank you for taking time out to host this hearing. This summer I was sexually harassed by a young man who eventually pulled a gun out on me when I rejected him. I was with two friends, both bigger than I, when he started hitting on me, saying things like “ Hey ma, what’ s good with you?”
My friends and I ignored him, but he continued to try, saying, “ Yo Shorty I’ m talking to you!” At one point I look so scared that my friend (a boy) intervened and told the man to “ Chill out, she’ s not interested.” The man then decided to yell at my friend and curse him out, screaming “ Yo who the f* * * are you? I’ m talking to her!” at which point he punched my friend. After me and my other friend (a girl) started freaking out and getting my friend away, we hear the guys friends go “ Yo, are you stupid what are you doing!?” When my friend and I turn around the guy was pointing a gun at me, while his friend was talking him out of doing anything too rash, at which point me and my friends ran away.
I do not expect the government to be able to stop things like this from happening, I do, however wish that they would pay more attention when women tell them a guy sexually harassed them because the man who harassed me could have done the same thing to someone else hours earlier. All I want to see happen is the government take action when someone comes in with a sexual harassment case, and for the people in our society to stand up for someone who they see is being sexually harassed.
The scene: an extremely crowded G-train shuttle bus on a Saturday afternoon. Everyone was packed onto the train, everyone’s bodies were touching each other, but I was surprised to feel someone’s hand squeezing my ass. I looked behind me and saw a man’s hand poised there behind his back–still in a cupped position as if he felt no shame or need to hide his covert grope. I was completely enraged and I turned around, grabbed him by the shoulder, and shouted “Did you just grab my ass? Because you totally just did!”
For the first instant he looked shocked but he suddenly became angry and yelled back (though much quieter than me), “Shut the fuck up, you ugly bitch, or I’ll smack the shit out of you.” Now, the bus was very crowded, and I knew he wasn’t going to hit me, though I wish he would have so I could have beaten the hell out of him. So I replied, “You’re going to hit me because you groped me on a crowded subway shuttle and I noticed? Are you kidding me?” at which point he turns around and starts ignoring me. I turn to the friend I’m with and say as loudly as I can “That douchebag just grabbed my ass,” she responds “What a fucking freak,” etc., and I stand close to him glaring the rest of the ride.
I handled the incident just like I always hoped I would, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t make me feel shaken and violated. It was absolutely horrible. From this incident onward (about 4.5 months ago), I tell street harassers to fuck off on a regular basis–even if they say “You look gorgeous” or “God bless you.” It feels good, but it doesn’t come close to completely counteracting the feelings of victimization, rage and sadness that come along with being harassed on a daily basis for being a woman.
Submitted by Rachel