Article, demonstration

Rachel’s story: ‘hey, you need some help?’ #bystanderSUCCESS

i often think about this event, and i love sharing the story. there aren’t enough stories of people being helped by a stranger, so i’m glad to share the story of the time someone helped me.

it was in 2005, and i was waiting for a subway train to take me to a party at like 8:30 pm on a friday. i was sitting on a bench, when a man came up and sat at the other end of the bench. he started by just staring and smiling. i was pretty sure he was drunk, so i figured he was just being a drunk guy and would get bored. then he started saying things to me, though i don’t know what he said because he said them in spanish. he said them in a low voice, and he made some kissing and sucking noises to punctuate them.
the station was pretty empty, and i thought if i sat there and didn’t do anything, it wouldn’t escalate.
it did. the bench was long, and he started scooting toward me.
about this time, a teenaged boy came down the escalator to wait for the train. he was on a path to walk by us, but he turned his head and when he saw what was happening, he stopped. he was a very tall young man, and quite physically imposing. i generally do not have a positive opinion of teenaged boys, so for a moment, i thought i was going to gain another harasser.
but he smiled at me. it was one of the kindest smiles i can ever recall receiving. he said, ‘hey, you need some help?’ i just shrugged, somehow too embarrassed to admit being bothered by the drunk guy down the bench. he smiled again, and sat down in between me and the drunk guy.

he turned and gave the man a very menacing look, and shook his head slowly. then he pulled out his ipod and headphones. as he was putting on his headphones, i said, ‘thank you so much.’ but i had been so nervous and kinda holding my breath, that it came out in a relieved exhale.

he smiled again and said, ‘don’t worry about it’ before putting on his headphones.

i’d never been so grateful for a stranger’s assistance before in my life. i suddenly felt safe, simply because another person decided to be nice. and i hate to say it, but it was that much more helpful that he was a tall young man.

nice dudes out there who don’t like to harass women and think it’s wrong to do so, help a lady out if she needs it!


Laís Tomaz’s story: No one even said anything

Hi everyone .. I’m from São Paulo (Brazil), it’s sad such huge city still doesn’t has its own IHollaback, hope I can do something to help about it ..

Well, today at the train (rush hour, really reaaaally crowded) a guy started touching his penis and looking at girls around him, I noticed it, but didn’t say a thing until he started looking at me. I just couldn’t take it quietly anymore, it’s so fucking sick .. I told him ‘what are you looking at?!’ and he got all angry, started yelling, calling me names, I told him he was disgusting and kept looking into his eyes till he was leaving the train .. then he started yelling ‘so what? you wanna beat me? I don’t have a problem beating a girl, c’mon here outside and I will show you’. I started clapping and yell ‘Congratulations to you woman beater, really beautiful!’ .. as expected, more calling me horrible names

THE WORSE: I had hundreds of witness, NO ONE said a thing!!! Why? Because I’m supposed to keep quiet and accept this kind of thing as a woman. I was the problem, I started a situation .. I bet they will let him beat me if he started to..

I’m feeling so hurt right now, like I don’t have rights ou dignity, everyone here just tell me to shut up the next time and I’m lucky I didn’t got beaten ..

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Nisha’s story: A few people made comments about how disgusting this was, but not enough..

Three boys in Latvia sat outside and as women passed, they held up signs with numbers to rate them.

A lot of the comments for this pictures are like “These guys deserve medals!” or “Man, I have to do this!”

A few people made comments about how disgusting this was, but not enough.

Street harassment at its finest.

The link is here.

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Victoria’s story: “I like your thickness”

I was 18 when I worked at F.Y.E.(a music/music store), and was sadly used to being hit on when working the cash register, but one man took it too far. After scanning his items and giving him the total, he handed me his money and said, “I like your thickness” I was shocked and thought I must have heard wrong, never would I imagine a stranger commenting on my weight in such a disgusting way. I asked, “Excuse me?” he repeated himself like he was complimenting me. Now sure I had heard correct I looked him dead in the eye and said, “What makes you think you can say that to me? You don’t know me, and you don’t talk to strangers like that. Do not talk to me.” I refused to let him think what he said was okay. He slinked away with his purchase. Afer he left, I was upset the rest of the work day, so appalled at how a stranger would treat me, but I’m glad I put him in his place.

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Ali’s story: CODE ORANGE

I was late for school, really late, but what’s new? I was stressing over a paper and test in my English class and needed some caffeine to take the edge off. I stopped at a local 7-11 on my way to get my fix, and walked up to the cash register to pay for my purchase.

A man, average height, late 40’s, entered the store as I was waiting in line to pay. I have a habit of surveying everyone around me because of a prior experience with rape, and as per usual, I checked his threat level. I labeled him orange – which, in my terms, means he probably will whistle or perform a “NON-THREATENING” act of crude behavior. (As a side note, I find it ridiculous that I have to do this, regardless of where I am, but it’s an obsession of mine that will not dissipate until our culture changes its view on rape and violence against women.)

He stood behind me and proceeded to hiss in my ear. I could feel his breath on my neck, that’s how close he was to me. He whistled so loudly, I jumped and turned around. He then proceeded to lick his lips and gyrate his body. It was disturbing, to say the least.

I am incapable of not saying anything these days to the people who harass me. There were about 6 people in the store, so I loudly spoke up, allowing everyone to hear me crystal clear.


Needless to say, I embarrassed him beyond belief, and he muttered an “I’m sorry” under his tobacco breath. I paid for my drink, walked out, and got into my car. I sat there for a moment, engine running, and cried.

That is, until a woman came running from the 7-11 and knocked on my window.

“Thank you,” she said, fighting back her own tears. “Thank you for doing that. I was raped when I was 15 by a man I trusted. I never had the courage to speak up to the hundreds of other men who catcall, harass, and threaten me on a monthly basis. You have just given me the strength to stand up for myself. Thank you.”

I was stunned. Ladies, please know you are never alone in this. We are in it together. United we stand.

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demonstration, Stalking, Verbal

JM’s story: I wouldn’t say you have a big dick. I’d say you are a big dick.

I was walking to campus from Walgreens when some guy with his hands shoved in his sweatpants pockets started following me. He followed me almost to the park, at which point I was basically running, yelling about how big his dick was and how much I’d like it. When he stopped following, he started calling me a bitch and an assortment of other great names. I’m just glad he didn’t follow me any further.

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Rose’s story: I was going for drinks, not disgust.

I was meeting some friends for drinks at around 6pm on a summers evening last year, it was still light and I was walking alone. I turned onto a quiet street and two men who were noticeably drunk passed me on the opposite side of the road. One of them shouted over to me “Hey wanna come back to mine and fuck?”, the other man looked embarrassed and laughed nervously trying to hold his friend up as he was stumbling around. I stopped and faced them and looked at the guy in disgust and declined his offer. The man then shouted “what the fuck you should be paying me to have sex with you!”, his friend apologized to me and dragged the guy away. I felt so angry afterwards that someone can say things like that to a complete stranger and think it’s all a big joke!

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Dog walker’s story: I just couldn’t believe a 14 year-old would say something like that

It’s been one of the best days of the year today, so my sister (22) and I (26) took our dog a walk in the park. There were hundreds of people in the park enjoying the weather. Whilst walking through a wooded part of the park we walked past two boys no more than 14 years old riding bikes up and down some ramps. When we were a good hundred yards past them one shouted “Hey girl in the blue t-shirt”. My sister looked at me and said to me “Im not a girl and this is a hoodie not a t-shirt”, trying to pass off the comment for them being daft and attention seeking. We never looked round so the boy repeated what he’d said then followed it up with some thing along the lines of “I want to lick your pussy”. We kept walking and I was worried about what would happen if they followed us to carry on but luckily they didn’t. There were other people and families around but probably not close enough to hear what the boy said. I was shocked I just couldn’t believe a 14 year old would say something like that. Anyway that ruined our nice walk in the park and I’m not sure I’ll feel as safe next time I go.


Megan’s Story: Taking back control

Instead of talking about all the horrible situations where I was helpless (stalking, harassment, even being run over by a cyclist!) I want to talk about the time I had had enough. I don’t want to talk about the ones who laughed and sped off. I want to talk about the one where I took back control, and wound up getting a child molester arrested.

It was in 2009 or 2010, and I was in my final year of school at Sheridan College, a prestigious animation school in a well-to-do suburban town outside of Toronto. I and a friend from university rented a very nice townhouse in a small, secluded cul-de-sac near the school. It was early afternoon on a springy Saturday, and my boss had just dropped me off from work. I was puttering in the front yard, talking with my sweetheart on the phone and weeding the garden. Several neighbours and their children were out.

Our house backs on to a heavily wooded ravine, and has a few shaded areas not easily seen from the street. I was aware of a man milling about, but thought he was one of the neighbours, and so I ignored him. He hung around harmlessly enough for about 45 minutes. Because I figured he belonged there, I didn’t find him remarkable until he slunk up from beside my house and gestured to me. I realized that he was waving his limp penis at me and gesturing for me to come over –out of view of the street, back into the trees.

Something in me snapped. I didn’t think at all. I didn’t feel any fear. It was like all the horrible instances of harassment and stalking that had happened in the past went by me in a flash. I felt TOUGH. I felt ANGRY. This was MY HOUSE, MY YARD and MY STREET.

The first thing I shouted was “Olivia, lock the door” (My roommate was assaulted as a teen. For whatever reason my first instinct was to keep her out of the situation) The next thing I did was scream “Get the f*ck out of here! I don’t want to see that! What do you think you’re doing! You filthy pervert! I’m calling the cops”

A lot happened at once here. My poor boyfriend on the phone has no idea what’s happening as I inform him that there’s a pervert and I have to hang up and call the police. The man turns and saunters away from me –through the gate into my backyard! My three-year-old neighbour comes running over to see what’s going on. I snatched her up and took her with me back out into the street, and called 911.

The adrenaline finally started to wear off and I began to shake. My neighbour and landlady came out, and went to check the treeline. The police arrived. My boyfriend (now fiance!) showed up, out of breathe and barefoot (when I hung up on him to call 911, he dropped his phone and ran straight out of his apartment to my house, not even stopping to put shoes on –he thought a rapist had broken in). He was too winded to speak, and it took a few minutes to explain to the police that they didn’t need to arrest him!

My roommate (she’d gone to the back door when I yelled for her to lock the house, and watched our perv make his way through the yard) and I filed police reports, and incident reports with the property manager. She and our next door neighbour recognized my description, and the flasher was arrested a few blocks away. It turned out he had a history of this behaviour.

Here’s the real kicker, though — As the police are pulling up, Some sleazy young man (clearly drunk or high) had the gall to come up to me and say “He doesn’t mean it. It’s just my friend. he’s like this when he’s drunk! You don’t need to call the cops or anything. It’s no big deal” I looked him in the eye and asked if he had ever been assaulted. I said “It’s threatening. It’s a sexual threat. It’s not funny for us.” He shrugged and proceeded to hit on my roommate (SERIOUSLY?!).

Later on I was informed that our perv had been jailed. Following our report, they looked into the bastard’s history, and started asking his family some questions. He was the somewhat estranged father of a little girl on my street. When they questioned her about any “weird things” he might have done, she answered yes to every question.

Looking back, I’m glad I got angry instead of helpless. I had a lot of elements in my favour that day –it was daylight, I was on my own turf, and I had backup handy. I wish I’d gotten angrier. I wish I’d been using a shovel in the garden that day (self defence! I didn’t mean to castrate him!). It breaks my heart to think of what that little girl endured.

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Tati’s story: patriarchy, you can’t pin this shit on me

In the space of two minutes: “nice tits!” “sweetheart, do you have a jacket? Because you need a jacket,” and “Hey mama, what’s up?”

A) You’re an asshole, clearly.
B) It might be cloudy, but you might have noticed that I’m carrying a gigantic, heavy satchel, and I just ran up some stairs. Because of this, I am feeling very warm, and have taken off my hoodie. You may be concerned about my short-sleeved shirt, but I assure you I know what’s best for me, and what makes me comfortable. Also, I’m not your sweetheart you fucking dickpenis.
C) Really? Why would I even respond to being called “mama” by a stranger? Not really into the Oedipal thing. I will say, though, your confused expression as I began to vigorously pick my nose and make eye contact was amusing.

And for all the “what were you wearing” haters, cargo pants. Baggy cargo pants, a long, not-low cut tank top with one-inch wide straps, a stained hoodie wrapped around my waist, disheveled hair, glasses, and a gigantic messenger bag-probably the size of an English bulldog. I shit you not. Fuck you, patriarchy, you can’t pin this shit on me, and I swear to god I WILL take you down.

Here’s to safe streets for all.

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