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This has been a pretty shitty month. From an ex-gay friend/one time girlfriend sending me harassing e-mails to a male from my past engaging in some, so called, “mild” stalking. I keep telling myself that’s why I didn’t fight back. This was one thing more than I could handle, and I froze. The truth is I’m angry with myself for reacting so passively.
I was taking the bus to class. A guy was standing at my stop and he asked a question about the bus time. I took one headphone out to answer him. After I answered my question he wouldn’t stop talking to me. I answered politely, looking for a way to end the conversation so as not to be rude. He said he was Cherokee and asked for my e-mail. I had my doubts, thinking: “right and I bet your great great grandma was an NDN ‘princess’ too”, but I have fair skin and light eyes, so I didn’t want to make judgments. I know how hurtful ‘not native enough’ comments can be. I know how hard it can be in the city, separated from land and community and often dealing with racism. I politely gave him a fake e-mail.
I began to get suspicious when he followed me onto my bus instead of the one he was waiting for. He proceeded to follow me onto the 2 when I transferred. I kept looking away but I couldn’t think of a polite way to end the conversation. So far he had been completely respectful. I though my misgivings were because I was on edge about the stalking incidents earlier in the month. I’d dealt with them assertively and I didn’t want to give the people harassing me the victory of making me afraid of strangers. When he went to get off the buss he offered me his hand. I don’t know why I took it. It’s programed in I guess. He garbed my hand and pulled me, off balance, towards him and kissed me. Then he got off the bus before I had time to process what had just happened.
I’ve been spending the last few months experimenting with my gender presentation. Gaining confidence to take up space and chose how I want to present myself. This was helping me regain my power after leaving a verbally and spiritually abusive relationship with a closeted friend. With one action I was placed back in the role of a sexual object. The worst part is I was the one who felt dirty after. Like he’d gotten his dirt all over me and I couldn’t get it off.
I know if I report the incident I will only be blamed for it. After all what was I doing talking to him if I wanted him to leave me alone? By giving him a fake e-mail wasn’t I “asking for it”? I’m a two-spirited Ansihinaabe Ikwe, and therefore considered unrapeable. I didn’t fight back. But none of that matters. My politeness was not an invitation for him to touch me in any way. The moment he touched me sexually without my consent he assaulted me. That isn’t complicated. There’s no gray area. No consent = assault. Everyone reacts differently, but freezing doesn’t mean I deserved what happened. For any one else who experienced this. NOTHING you can do means you’re asking to be assaulted or harassed. Let your abuser carry the blame, none of it should ever be yours.
Next time I trust I’ll fight back. Thank you for letting me share my story and speaking up to say that this is never acceptable.
I just have to get this off my chest because I’m too ashamed to tell anyone else.
Today, around 4:30pm, I was walking home from lunch with my friends when I heard a car, blasting rap music, pull up next to me. It stopped at a stop sign but I kept walking to cross the street parallel to the car.
The car honked twice. I ignored it. Three more honks, I ignored it. They kept honking but I ignored it. Then the car turned onto the street I was crossing and cut me off. I went around the back of the car and kept walking, realizing they (the two young men driving) were targeting me. I kept walking down the sidewalk but the car kept driving slowly, steadily, next to me. They then turned into a driveway in front of me, cutting me off once again. The two guys smiled at me. “What?” I yelled. Now I was pissed. I wanted to get home and I didn’t know what to do. I turned back around and began to walk to the house on the corner. A girl from my school lived there that I barely knew, but I was desperate. As I walked away they called, “Hey sweetie, where you goin?” I walked up to her front steps and rang her doorbell. No one answered, but thank god, the guys drove away. I quickly walked home, checking over my shoulder every two minutes
I am angry that I can’t walk comfortably in my own neighborhood without getting harassed. I’m embarrassed because I felt vulnerable. I’m scared to walk by myself now and I hate street harassment.
Last night I was walking to the train from a movie with my friend Mia. As we were waiting at a corner to cross the street a guy came jogging up beside us and startled me. Once the light changed he jogged off.
A few blocks later I was grabbed from behind by the jogger [who apparently circled around to follow us] while I was talking and walking with Mia. At first I thought it was another friend, Dan, who had left a little earlier to try and catch a bus.
But then the guy grabbed my breast and started choking me. Mia started to scream. And I fought back. I elbowed him and just started to yell at him all of my feelings, telling him to FUCK OFF and to GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME.
And after he let me go, he just SAUNTERED AWAY like it wasn’t a big FUCKING deal that he just decided he could grab me and choke me on the FUCKING STREET. Like it was ok that touched me – like I was some FUCKING PIECE OF PROPERTY THAT HE COULD GRAB because HE FELT LIKE IT. It made me so angry that I started to chase after him for a couple of steps before I caught myself. He only started running when I started to scream that I was going to call the cops if he didn’t get THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME RIGHT NOW.
Mia and I went to the closest safe area and I was shaking. Mia convinced me to call the cops. We waited for them and once they arrived I gave them a very detailed description, showed them where it was at and where he ran off to, and they drove us home.
So. I have a lot of feelings. I’m proud that I fought back. I’m thankful that I took a self-defense class that taught me not to freeze. I’m thankful that Mia was there and I wasn’t alone. I’m so fucking angry that he thought he could touch me. I’m angry that he knew that I saw and noticed him before and still decided to come after us. I’m thankful for the two police officers who were compassionate, understanding, and not condemning – definitely not what I’ve come to expect from the CPD. But most of all I’m furious that I had to re-learn that no where is safe. Ever. Because I’m a female.
I live in southern Colorado and until recently have not had to deal with much street harassment. I generally commute using my personal vehicle and therefore am not on on the streets very often. However, recently a friend and I have taken up jogging at the Riverwalk, a very pretty newer development to our downtown area. In the last couple of weeks, we have been honked at and whistled at by people driving past, which happens so quickly there’s no chance to respond. Yesterday though, I finally got a chance. We had just started our run when a group of about 6 boys standing around with their bicycles (yes, boys, maybe around 12-13 years old) began yelling at us from across the river. They were shouting to get our attention and doing the classic “my friend wants your number!” and other things I didn’t quite catch. My friend and I initially kept going, but then it suddenly dawned on me that I had my phone. So I stopped dead in my tracks and walked back over. I pulled my phone out and told them I wanted to take their picture. They got nervous looks on their faces and asked why. I started yelling back that shouting at women (my friend and I are in our 20s) was not appropriate and I was going to tell their parents what they were doing. They quickly ran behind some trees so I couldn’t get their picture. I then yelled at them, asking them if they were so big and tough to holler at women in public why were they hiding now? They got pretty quiet then and my friend and I continued our run. I didn’t feel threatened at all, but I did want to embarrass them by loudly calling attention to their inappropriate behavior to all the other pedestrians around. It must have worked, because we did not see them anywhere around again as we finished our run. One thing that did bother me, though, was that immediately afterward I felt like I needed reassurance that I had not overreacted. My friend was very supportive, which helped. But it wasn’t until I told the story to my husband and he agreed that my reaction was okay that I felt better about it. I knew in my head that I did the right thing in calling out harassing behavior, but it was uncomfortable to realize that the social pressure to stay quiet, not make a scene, etc. is still so ingrained. I don’t think this one incident will change the behavior of those boys overnight, but I hope that next time they will think twice and be nervous that their target will react like I did and not let them get away with it. I only wish I could have actually talked to their parents. Unfortunately, I suspect that as long as I continue jogging in public (which I fully intend to do) I will have plenty of opportunities to continue to hollaback.
I used to work in downtown San Francisco. As anyone who has lived or visited here knows, having a car is generally more trouble than its worth. I take the bus or walk everywhere. A big part of my commute every day was the 38L bus. This particular line is massively overcrowded during commute hours. I was on my way home from work and the bus was so crowded everyone standing was pressed up against each other. All the sudden I felt something rubbing up and down on my thigh. It took me a second to realize that this big guy standing behind me was slowly humping me. I started to move back further on the bus and try to get away from him. He followed me and started doing it again. I finally managed to slip off the bus at the next stop and waited for the next one. I’m lucky he didn’t follow me off the bus. To this day, I refuse to get on a bus that crowded if I can help it. I will wait for the next one if I can. When I have to take it no matter how crowded, I am hyper aware of everything going on around me and have had minor anxiety attacks until I can get off the bus.
I’m submitting this because I just remembered it when someone else’s story triggered it. I can’t believe I forgot it- I guess I think I tried to repress it because I couldn’t understand it.
It was 2004, and I was eleven years old. It was Christmastime, and my mom was taking me to Crocker Park, a large and very popular shopping center in our area. I became separated from her and was soon very lost in the crowds.
Then I saw a group of frat boys from a nearby college- they were all wearing sweatshirts with some Greek letter on it. I didn’t realize they were following me until the barking started. Now, six months before, I had become extremely sick, to the point of near-death. I was emaciated- you could see my heart beating through my clothes- and my face was swollen from Prednizone. I looked awful, and I knew it. So there I was, a prepubescent, very ill, and very lost girl, being followed and barked at by a group of very large frat boys. It was not so much frightening as humiliating. I tried to ignore them but started to cry a little bit- they finally got tired of their “game” and wandered off. When I at last found my mom, I wiped my face and didn’t say anything. I just tried to forget it.
I can’t imagine how those boys got off on hounding a little girl. I can’t imagine how I managed to repress that memory. But I’m glad that Hollaback exists so that I can get it off my chest.
One morning in August of last year, I was walking from the bus stop to my job when I’m about to pass this guy. Since I am harassed in some form almost on a daily basis, I’m a bit leery of him, so I walk across this parking lot in a nearby strip mall in order to get away from him. So he calls out to me, “Hey, baby!” I ignore him and keep walking and the asshole continues running his mouth, saying, “With them big-ass titties!” I continue walking with my head up high and my nose in the air and say nothing. I don’t even look at him. And he STILL runs his mouth, “OK, I’ll see you next time, baby!” I was so infuriated and felt so violated I wanted to bash his skull in, but I kept my cool and did not give him what he wanted: attention.
Street harassed 3 times
The first time I experienced harassment was 4 months ago, I it was summer time at about 8.45pm on my way back from the supermarket as I was waiting on the side of the road for the traffic to clear I saw this weird looking guy approach me, wanting to touch me — I had to put my shopping bag down and push him out to stop him from touching me and kept saying to him to Please go away and to leave me alone while I am waiting for the road to clear. I managed to cross the road and I was in tears because of the thing that just struck me. Ever since I’m becoming more aware of the street and to always look at my surrounding whenever I am walking alone. Just as the uneasy feelings started to go away the 2nd harassment happened about a month ago. I was walking home from my bus stop to my apartment at about 7pm when a guy from across the the street started yelling at me for no reason.. I try to ignore him and kept on walking until this crazy guy crossed the road and started to follow me home. Being aware that someone followed me, I started to run and luckily there was a car coming and it had slowed him down and I managed to get into my apartment building just in time.
3rd harassment happened today, I came out from work at 5pm walking on the CBD street with 4 friends and somehow this guy came out from nowhere and growled at me…
At this point I feel very vulnerable and I keep wondering why is this happening to me? what would the best way to prevent this from happening in the near future? sometimes the thought of what if it gets worse compared to all of the experiences I had above freak me out .. I always dress down and avoid to making eye contact with strangers and yet it doesn’t seem to work. However, sharing this story makes me feel slightly better.
This happened when I was 13, and the memory’s stayed with me since. I was at my school camp, taking canoe lessons with the rest of the class. The canoe instructor, who was next to me, kept leering and saying things like, “You’re so pretty, what’s your name?” Being 13 and painfully shy, the only way I knew how to deal with it was ignore him.
I thought he’d just go away. Instead, he said, “Come on, I’m not going to bite you,” and grabbed my left arm and actually bit me. It wasn’t a deep bite but it was repulsive. He then proceeded to, what I now understand in retrospect, hump his canoe.
When I told my teacher about this, she brushed me off and said, “Oh, they’re just fooling around. Don’t take it so seriously.” Well, it was frightening, disgusting, and even now, 8 years later, those feelings are still with me.
People should never brush off sexual harassment just because it’s too troublesome to deal with it, or just because nothing seriously illegal was involved!
This happened a few years ago, and it still bothers me.
My cousin and I were walking down the street, sure it was dark, but not really that late. Not that it matters. We’re walking down a pretty residential street, and are literally 2 houses down from her front door. We had been out to get a bottle of wine for a big family dinner, and they all were waiting on us inside. This guy walking towards us goes right between us, bends down and grabs both of our crotches. And then just keeps on walking like nothing happened. He might have even been whistling. We were speechless, and before we walked through the front door, agreed to not say anything. Her parents would have flipped, and we just wanted to get over it. I still feel pretty violated when I think of it, and can’t believe that it even happened. What made him think it was okay to do that? How many other women has he done this to? So disgusting.