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To set the tone of this conflict, please know that I am a women with short hair. I was wearing a simple t-shirt and lounge style shorts.
I was walking late at night to do some laundry downtown in Reed City. As I was nearing the laundromat I noticed a group of men gathered outside the backdoor of a bar, at quite a distance as to obscure their features, who presumably were smoking cigarettes. I was a little nervous at this point. I became hyper aware of statistics of violence against women and felt that it might be reasonable to stop slouching. Perhaps if I look confident then I won’t get attacked, I thought.
The closer that I got to them the more nervous I felt. I began to tread quickly and quietly, while hoping for the best. There was no point in turning back as I was halfway there. Besides, what if I had it all wrong? Or what if I ignited an animal desire within them to pursue me?
Just after I crossed Old 131 & The Pere Marquette Trail, one of the men yelled “Hey, girl or guy?”. I instinctively ignored him and kept walking. This was not a battle worth engaging in despite my deep feelings about rigid gender roles and appearance. As they disappeared behind a set of buildings lining the block I heard him say, “Yep, guy.”
Thankfully nothing else happened. This may not seem like a big deal to some but I was scared that I was going to get assaulted for appearing differently than I should. It happens occasionally, especially to people who appear at all queer. I called a family member to give me a ride home after frantically texting a few people online for support. Those moments waiting for the arrival of my family member were frightening. I was seriously afraid for my safety, as the laundromat was deserted and the men were at a bar down the street.
All in all, I do feel like a dunce for walking so late at night alone. I likely won’t do such a thing again all though I already don’t. I just assumed that it would be safer since it was a small town and I needed to squeeze laundry in real quick before the next day.
I also feel conflicted about my appearance. I usually dress in a way that I find comfortable and admittedly don’t strive to appear like a woman “should”. The incident made me feel insecure about my appearance and whether I should change the way I present myself. I decided not to change anything, yet doubt still lingers about whether I should dress more feminine.
I feel that this incident has also changed the way that I feel about Reed City. I don’t feel like it would be safe to walk late at night around downtown anymore and I feel less welcome in the community even during the day. Rude people don’t disappear in the daylight.
I was interning at the Broward County Public Defender’s Office this summer and every day I would sit outside and wait for my aunt to pick me up (I’m 16, but I don’t have a car). Anyway, it was hot and sunny, so I took off my jacket, but I was wearing a conservative blouse and knee-length business skirt, so I figured it didn’t matter. I had some M&M’s in my hand and I was eating them one by one when a guy got really close to my face and said “Hey, baby, wanna give me some of your M&M’s?” The only thing I could say was “What?” I literally could not believe what just happened. The guy repeated himself, just to make sure I understood, and walked away. I was too scared to do anything, especially because we were in front of a courthouse and I thought he might be some sort of criminal. After that, I never took off my jacket again, no matter how hot it was.
My friends and I traveled down to Provi for some clubbing tonight. We found a paid parking lot just down the street. It was incredibly convenient, and we were able to run back for anything we needed. Around 12:30, decide it’s time for a cigarette break. Out of the four of us, only two smoke, so my friend and I decide to run back to the car (suv) for some water.
She and I are sitting in the backseat, and it’s hot as anything so, my door is open. This guy (probably 40’s, scruffy) squeezes by the door, so I pull it in and apologize. So he’s by the front of the car and is just kind of staring at me, making creepy eyes and smiling. I start talking to my friend as if we’re engrossed in a conversation, hoping he’ll just leave, when my friend noticed her started to come back to my door. I whip it shut, and then he stands at the front of the car again, looking in and being seriously f**king creepy. I kind of ducked behind the driver’s seat so he couldn’t really see me, and then he starts staring at my friend, and sloooooowly pacing back and forth, still with the f**king smile. At first I hoped he was waiting for someone, since it’s a parking lot and he was carrying a package or something, but he doesn’t stop staring, and looks like he might approach us again. As we went to lock the doors he walked away.. Slowly, of course, and he kept looking back at us with the same unnerving expression on his face. When he was far enough away, we locked up the car and power walked the f**k out of there.
This was probably about three minutes, but I have no clue what the f**k made him think that was okay to do.
A year ago, I was walking home from a convenience store a block away from my apartment. I didn’t notice the guy trying to get my attention until he had spiralled into rude words, and until he rode up next to me on a bike. He was insulting me and yelling at me for being ‘rude’ by not responding to his opening remarks and for not being willing to have a conversation with him at a bus stop some time previous. I tried apologizing, making excuses that I don’t like talking to strangers, etc. His responses were things like calling me stuck up, calling me a ‘b**ch*, and continually insulting me and yelling. He told me not to bother calling the police. He followed me all the way down the block. I was getting really frightened and had told him repeatedly to leave me alone. Finally, in my complex’s parking lot, he yelled that “people like me” should be “executed” or “sent to Mars”. I broke and ran at that point and took a circuitous route back to my apartment. Then I called a friend and the non-emergency police.
The officer told me that since the man hadn’t told me he would kill me, just that I should be killed, it didn’t constitute a threat.
I was too afraid to practice bike riding outside for a week and went into full panic mode when I had to go to that intersection again.
I didn’t drive or even bike at this point and lived alone.
Sitting towards the back of the bus, a young boy came on and sat in front of me. When the woman sitting across from me left, he moved to sit directly behind me, on the back seat.
During the trip I felt extremely nervous and uncomfortable for reasons I could not quantify. I was too frightened to look behind me, and assured myself that nothing could really be happening because there were people on the bus – what I failed to register was that everyone was sitting at least two rows in front of me, with even less visibility than I had. In an extreme state of anxiety, I eventually left the bus at my stop and looked back to confirm that I had made the whole thing up.
I had not. I looked behind me and saw that the boy had been masturbating behind me for the 20 minutes he had been there. I do not blame myself for not acting upon my discomfort, or feeling violated and sick upon reflection. I am myself a teenager, and when I got home, crying, my mother called the police and we took action.
This experience has had a profound effect on me. I find dusk (the time it occurred) on public transport and alone incredibly unsettling, often feel uncomfortable on buses and second guess the people sitting around me. I sometimes feel irrationally frightened of people who look like this boy. This behaviour is unacceptable.
I was in a busy pub, walking to the bathroom when a middle aged man, one who looked old enough to have a daughter my age (18) groped my ass through my knee length dress (all sane people know what I was wearing has nothing to do with it, but that’s just for the skeptics who speak of “tiny hemlines” or whatever)
I paused, and thought for a moment “Am I going to just let this happen?” I considered that there were police directly outside the door of the pub, so I turned round, grabbed the guy by the collar and threw him towards the door ( I was about a foot taller than him) His friend got angry and told me to “just move along, he didn’t do anything” My boyfriend (who had been at the bar when it happened) came over and obviously was very angry and challenged the guy. The bouncer/security came over and asked us to leave, when I told him what happened he said “I didn’t see it” basically meaning it didn’t happen. He kicked out me and my boyfriend.
I was very angry about this, as you would understand I couldn’t believe we were the ones getting kicked out the pub for it. I was so frustrated, and angry I started crying. My friends told me it wasn’t a big deal, they didn’t understand why I even cared, “it happens all the time to everyone”. I was so upset by the injustice of it all that I approached the police and told them what happened. They took a statement from me and arrested the guy. They even took my dress for DNA testing, and checked the CCTV cameras but they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him. I just hope spending the night in the cells taught him not to do it someone else, and I hope he had to explain to his wife & kids exactly why he spent the night in the cells.
Oh, I wish it were just one address, one intersection, one story… I just have to say these are some NY experiences for me…
Countless catcalls. In addition to the usual “Hey, sexy.”, etc, a few examples are:
“Smile! Why you looking so sad?” [apparently not smiling for no reason=sad]. This is remarkably common, always intrusive, bewildering (come on, it’s obvious you are not concerned with my wellbeing, dude!) and extremely annoying.
“Say HI, ho!!!” [following my lack of response to a really gross-sounding “hiiiiiii”] Nice etiquette lesson, sir. Thanks.
1. Union Square, daylight, sidewalk, lots of people around. Guy digs under and between my buttocks. I begin to yell and swing my grocery bags at him. He laughs at me while dodging the swings. Lots of people look. No one tries to help. He leaves. A few minutes later I cry hysterically and am ‘comforted’ by some male ‘friends’ who tell me not to get so worked up over it.
2. Herald Square, daylight, sidewalk, moderately populated. A man grabs my behind and runs for it. Once a safe distance away makes sure to turn around to me and laugh. Continues his exit. I vow to myself I will be ready to pummel the next guy that does this. And am given the opportunity in…
3. Gramercy Park, daylight, sidewalk, few people. I feel a hand digging in my butt. I’m ready! I turn around and see a boy of approximately 14 yrs. His friends are backing away from him, saying “We told you not to do it.” I am going to kill this child. I go after him. He runs ahead of me. I am screaming at him to “Come here!” and he keeps running. I slow down and speak calmly “I want to talk to you,” he slows down a bit and I get closer. We alternate like this for a few blocks. Finally, a responsible-looking dad and his 9 or 10 yr old son ride up on bikes. The man susses out the situation and begins telling me to stop what I’m doing. I’m hysterically crying at this point and now really confused by what he’s saying. He then says maybe these boys have a knife and I shouldn’t be chasing them. I’m sobbing, pleading “Why are you stopping ME!?!? Why aren’t you saying anything to THEM???!?!??” He get’s defensive WITH ME. I understand his point about the risks but couldn’t he at least say SOMETHING to them? They are a block away and he doesn’t even say “This is wrong!” to the guys or anything. Another man walks up to us and asks what happened. I am choking on sobs, explaining to him what the boy did and why I am upset that I’VE been told to stop but he wasn’t. This man very calmly listens and agrees with me that this was wrong. Dad and son ride off. This new man offers to walk me to where I was going. About 10 steps into this walk, snot streaming out of my nose, he offers a GEM of and idea:
[Delivered with a certain flair, charm and authority (aka Sleaze)]
“You know what you need? You need to come up to my apartment and have a drink with me.”
I walked away from him. Bought and immediately put on a huge sweater full-price (I hate that!), though I was already dressed in conservative slacks and a blouse and it was summer. Cried the whole way home. When I was there safely I called my long-distance boyfriend who — THANK GOD — listened, empathized, and didn’t make it about an affront to his manhood or vandalism of his property. Just good, solid, caring support. Thanks, A.
I’ve unfortunately had to learn how to tell if I’m being followed and how to deal with it if I am. Thank you, crime/stalking/horror movies for your unerring guidance.
This has happened twice lately.
1. Walked onto the train and felt a guy notice me. As I kept riding, could just feel that he was planning something (THANK YOU, INTUITION!!!) and that he wasn’t quite right in the head. Waited until the last second to jump off at my stop and he quickly came out, too — after clearly not planning to before. I exited and went immediately into a store. He walked past it a few doors and then started back. I crossed the street, pretending to wait for a bus near where cops stand. He crossed the street toward me but then angled a bit away. I took a mental snapshot of his description. Found a cop, gave her the description and asked her to watch me walk home. Haven’t seen him since.
2. On the train again, a man moved close to me on a nearly empty train. He began to talk to me in hushed tones about some music he was making and a a video he wanted me to check out. Also flirting and saying things about my looks. He’s leaning really close to me. I’d say he was either somewhat developmentally challenged or on a drug, or both. He wants to talk about different things, he wants to know about me. I tell him I’m married. He keeps going. My stop comes up. I do the waiting thing. I jump off. He gets off. Another train comes downstairs. I run to it. The doors close before I get there. I pray for a miracle. The doors opened!!! I jump on. He doesn’t. I get off a stop later and thank the female conductor for opening the doors, telling her someone was following me. She is unfazed. I’m still grateful.
** Perhaps an interesting fact is that I model for a living and experience FEWER annoying, intrusive and scary interactions when I’m dressed UP for work. I have had MORE negative experiences when I was dressed either in a nicely CONSERVATIVE outfit or in my SWEATS! **
Thanks for reading! Wishing you safety, wherever you are!!!
I had just turned fourteen when I went to London, England with my cathedral choir. On a free day, my family and another family decided to visit the Nottinghill carnival parade, which is supposed to duplicate the carnivals found in South America and the Caribbean in areas where immigrants settled. One of the main attractions are the bright, colourful and revealing costumes women wear. Often costumes are a bikini, a large headpiece, with jewellery and accessories to decorate the material-lacking costume.
The carnival is fueled by music, dancing, secretive alcohol, and energy. Maybe because I was so young and had grown up with Caribbean parents, I did not find Carnival explicitly sexual. I stood beside my mother and another chorister my age right in front against the fence to bar off the audience from the performers. I watched dancing bodies and floats pass by and was enjoying myself.
I had realized there was a man behind me the entire time, slowly inching up towards the fence to get a better view. Or so I believed until I felt his hard penis against my ass. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, nor did I feel particularly unsafe since – this would be my first interaction with a penis and didn’t even know if what I was feeling was his penis.
I kept silent about it and kept telling myself it wasn’t his junk touching me. Eventually, he was pushing into me so hard that my torso was starting hurt from being pushed into the fence. When he started swaying slightly, I became confident it what I was feeling. I stopped underplaying my situation and told my mother. She put her elbow in between me and the man and pushing him away. After that I couldn’t feel anything hard on my ass again.
When the parade was over, my parents didn’t make a big deal of it or have much of a reaction, so I followed their lead. I remember being confused and wondering if it had been a man’s hard body part rubbing up on me. I was sure it was, but if it was, wouldn’t my parents been more concerned?
Growing up, I have realized that it was a hard penis on me, and that I had in fact been sexual assaulted.
I am not sure if my story fits the hollaback-movement, but I think it does. the situation was not on a street but in a kind of a semi-public place: in a dormitory of the university in bochum.
I have lived in the dormitory for the last three years. we have 5 floors with about 12 one-bed-rooms. all inhabitants of one floor use the kitchen, two showers and two restrooms together. in the past sometimes somebody tried to flirt with me but in a nice way. but some weeks ago a new inhabitant moved to our floor. I had a strange feeling about him but I thought “dont be so sensitive”. but my feelings were right. we spoke with each other twice, I felt again a little bit strange because his behaviour was strange. for example once it was obviously I wanted to leave the room but he didn`t give the way free. But again I said to me “okay, you are to sensitive. trust more!”. the next day I met him again in the kitchen. he told me the following: he saw me the night before (about 1:30) when I went to the restroom. and he had the idea to terrify me. but then he thought that “the poor little girl” (I am 30 years old) would be scared of it and he didn`t do it. at this point I started to tremble. and i am proud that I told him the first thing I thought: that if he had terrified “the poor little girl” I would have smashed his face in. at this point he stopped talking to me, some minutes later he asked only “are you angry?”. Yes, I was!
The problem now ist, that I feel very uncomfortable in my dormitory. luckily I will move in some weeks. But it is definitly a men`s world!
I was in eighth grade, when I was groped by a middle-aged man at a skating rink. I had been standing with a group of friends listening to a story when the man passed by me and grabbed me by my hips from behind – in an attempt to make it appear as if he were just trying to squeeze by. I turned around just as he continued on and noted the large space between me and those surrounding me. I only remember feeling completely embarrassed. I was thirteen years old the first time a strange grown man objectified me, and without my permission placed his hands on me.