Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
About 10 years ago, my sister and I were traveling to Dubrovnik on a bus from Split. She was sitting in the back row with another traveling companion, while I chose to sit a few rows up to take advantage of 2 empty seats so I could stretch out and cat nap.
I awoke to the realization that the man (about in his 20′s) seated behind me had slipped his hand between the seats and was groping my ass. I, not to mince words, freaked out. I immediately stood up and began a furious diatribe at the man in English, my only tongue, making sure it was loud enough that the whole bus could hear what I was saying. Though many on the bus may not have understood all of my words, I have found through extensive travel that English swear words usually are understood universally in most of Europe, and so peppered my righteous screed with them. I’m a carpenter’s daughter and learned the skill of spontaneous and poetic strings of profanity from an early age. As I was doing this, and without thinking, I grabbed my almost full water bottle from the seat, unscrewed the cap and proceeded to pour it out all over my harasser, who was stunned into immobility by my reaction, and obviously embarrassed and ashamed. A couple more “fuck you’s” and “don’t fucking touch me again, asshole” and I sat down. At the next stop most of the passengers got out for a leg stretch including this still soaking-wet guy, who skulked away towards the end of the bus alone to smoke. I noticed several other passengers pointing and laughing at him.
The coolest thing was my sister telling our Italian male companion during the incident decidedly that, no, I didn’t need his help. The worst was his commentary (after I explained to him exactly what happened) in essence that I was overreacting; after all, harassment like this doesn’t really harm anyone, and most men in Italy and Croatia do it so it’s okay, also European women expect it. That pissed me off more than the groping.
But I bet the jerk who grabbed me will think twice about ever trying that again, if only to avoid another “crazy American bitch”.
Submitted by Jill C.
I have two to share. First is molestation, second is verbal, but I’m filing this under verbal.
When I was 14, I was molested by (all I remember is) a very tall man who brushed against my groin while I was in the aisle of a gift shop. I was naive and thought maybe he didn’t do it on purpose but when he did it again despite the fact that I’d given him a lot of room, I just looked at him and kept looking until he hurriedly left. The thing is, I was so shocked that I really couldn’t recall what he looked like.
When I was in my early 20s, a man who looked like he was in his 50s or 60s was queueing at the supermarket with his family. Even though his wife and daughter were there, he kept leering at me and making remarks about me because I was wearing shorts. I didn’t do anything about it, but I wish I had.
I’m still not good at standing up to people, but I swear I’m not going to just do nothing if it happens again.
Submitted by caffeine
I went to Walmart to get pajamas for my daughter. This guy came up to me and said “Can I holla at you?”. I thought he wanted to know the time or some money. I couldn’t understand him cuz he looked high. I turned around to walk away. Then he ran up behind me and started grinding into my butt. I turned around to punch him and he disappeared. I told an employee. He said “Oh. He’s been doing that here for awhile”. He told me he would look for him and tell security. He came back and said “We can’t find him”. I ran around the store and found him. They didn’t do anything about it.
Submitted by Lisa
As I was getting on the bus, a guy behind me grabbed me between my legs. I was yelling at him, and I looked like a crazy woman. The guy sat right next to another woman and acted like there’s nothing wrong. I was too furious to think. The bus was crowded and I just yelled that he grabbed me between my legs, but people didn’t seem to care.
Submitted by Nancy
I was sitting on Muni (N Judah) going to work and a guy was rubbing against me. That was early morning. I told him if he doesn’t stop, I’ll hit him where it hurts. This was years ago, but I remember it well.
Submitted by Nancy
This was about 7 years ago when I was working at a small gas station. I worked 2nd shift, so I was all by myself and would have to close the store at midnight. I had plenty of winners show up, like the old man who snuck up behind me as I was refilling the sodas one night, ran his hands up my thighs and told me I had sexy legs, and the hundreds of men asking rude questions about my “big tits,” but the worst was this guy who kept coming into the store every night for hours on end to bother me. He hit on me constantly and demanded to know if I had a boyfriend or any tattoos (he didn’t want me getting any tattoos because it would mess up my “beautiful body”). If another male customer came into the store he would glare at them in a hostile manner, to the point where some of them would ask me if I wanted them to call the cops, who never did anything. Every time I tried to kick him out of the store he wouldn’t leave. One night he hung around past closing time and when I told him to leave he became angry and told me “I know where all the cameras in this store are and I could take you in the back room and do whatever I wanted with you.” This scared the crap out of me. Just then a car pulled up to the door and before I could react the guy was screaming, “We’re closed!” and waving his hands around, so the car drove off. I called the cops and as usual they laughed off my story about his threats, acted all buddy-buddy with him, and offered to give him a ride home. I put in my notice after that. Thankfully this loser lived in town and only rode a bicycle, so he was never able to follow me home to the boondocks in my car.
Submitted by Brittany
Fourteen years old at the time and walking through a shopping centre (on my lunch break). Can I just mention here that even at fourteen I looked young for my age – definitely sums up what kind of perverts these guys were.
Two guys (I’m guessing in their late twenties or early thirties) walk past and I feel one of them grab my bum. As a jerk reaction I whip round and hit one of them in side with my elbow and forearm, really really hard and his only reply is ‘It wasn’t me!’.
Well jerkoff, I can only assume by the smirk on your face and on your buddy’s that the two of you are just as bad as each other anyhow and it’s just a shame that I didn’t get both of you. (was the inner monologue in my head!)
The disgust aside, I’m quite proud of the shy, quiet 14 year old me!
Submitted by Melissa Y
I stopped by the Alley Cantina in Taos, NM back in August to meet a few friends for drinks. The hallway leading to the bathrooms is small – just enough for two people to squeeze by each other – and men were lined up along one side of it (there was only one other woman in line for the ladies’ room). As I’m walking past these men, someone grabs my ass. I turn around immediately and there’s one guy with his hands already up, as if to say “it wasn’t me!” and pointed to his friend who was standing next to him. I didn’t know which one of them actually groped me, but I looked each of them in the eye as I yelled, loud enough so that everyone around me could hear what I was saying over the music and chatter, that you do NOT grab a woman’s ass as she’s walking by you. I felt like a mother scolding her young children! These dudes were much bigger than I am, so I turned around and continued down the hallway. As I got to the front, I turned around to make sure I got a good look at both of them (early- to mid-20s, both males is all I can remember now) and saw them leaving the line, towards the door of the bar. They’re bold enough to grab a stranger’s butt as she’s walking past them, but not bold enough to stick around to deal with the consequences after I talk to the bartender and the security guys. Real manly.
Submitted by Katrina
I was an exchange student in Spain for 9 months and toward the end of those 9 months I went to spend a week on the beach at Salou with a group of friends.
One afternoon I was walking the 2 blocks from our hotel to the beach by myself when I heard a man calling out to me. I glanced at him, then looked away. I noticed him running after me. I sped up. He grabbed me and attempted to kiss me. I twisted out of his arms, looked him dead in the eye, and said firmly, in English, “I don’t understand any Spanish.” Which, by the way, was an utter lie. But I assumed that he would be put off by a person who spoke no Spanish.
I walked swiftly and decidedly on toward the beach. Thankfully, he left me alone, although behind me I heard him say, in Spanish, something like, “You don’t have to know any Spanish!”
Submitted by Olivia
I know this isn’t street harassment, but it isn’t any less humiliating to be harassed on campus.
My first experience with harassment really shook me up because it happened in EIGHTH GRADE. I was sitting beside a jerk jock–you know the type–in math class when he started petting my arm and leg. We were not friends. There was no way this could be construed as a joke. I told him to stop. He didn’t.
I was raised by a woman who joined her school’s all-boys track team in the 60s to force the administration to open sports up to girls. I was NOT raised to take this. So I stood up in the middle of class, pointed to the boy beside me and told my teacher loud enough for everyone to hear, “He is touching me. He’s sexually harassing me and I’m not going to take it.”
I didn’t know it then, but that was my first time holla’ing back.
Now, I attend Delta College in Saginaw Michigan and I have been harassed and cornered no less than five times. I make it a point to laugh at the offenders and draw as much attention to them as possible, but they’re everywhere and they come in all flavors. There’s no point in reporting this to administration or campus police because they don’t do anything about it, but maybe posting this will give other girls the courage to say something too because they aren’t alone.
Ladies of all ages, NEVER let anyone make you feel less than you are. Hollaback and if you’re at Delta College, know that if I’m around I will be backing you up.
Submitted by Emily