Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
I was visiting a friend in Chicago last July, but while he was at work I decided to explore the city. I was sitting on a bench in Chinatown, reading a paper, when this old man comes up to me. I move my things so he can sit. I was 20 at the time. I have dark brown skin, dark curly hair, and was wearing an orange tank, brown flip-flops, and baggy khakis slightly above the knee.
He starts talking to me, and even though I felt something strange, I ignored it. After all, you’re supposed to be respectful of elders, right? He keeps chatting, and I nod and answer his questions and keep trying to read my paper. He asks if I live here. He puts his arm around me. I freeze. And now I know something’s wrong. He asks me how tall I am and I tell him, then he says “I don’t believe you stand up.” So I do, and he stands up and hugs me. He tries to kiss me but I turn my head so it lands on my cheek, and then he presses himself against me and I can feel him. His hands slide down my waist to my ass and I try to push him away, but my brain’s gone all fuzzy and he won’t let go and I’m frozen. I look around to see if anyone’s coming to help- it’s the middle of the day, and there are people all around me. But no one seems to know what’s going on. He’s laughing and I finally manage to get him off me, but not before his fingers brush my breast and I grab his hand and turn it into a handshake. He acts like nothing happened, laughs again, and asks if we met again would I say hello to him. I just want him to go away, so I sit down and stare at the ground and nod. He says “I’m leaving now. I’ll be at so-and-so place, then I’ll head home. It’s going to rain soon. You should go inside.” Then he leaves, looking behind him and waiting like he expects me to follow. As soon as he turns the corner it pours. I call my friend and insist he comes to get me, but he can’t get to me for another hour, so I am forced to wait in the train station, sobbing, while four other random men corner me and attempt to get my number. Apparently creeps can smell vulnerability.
Submitted by Miga
I wish I’d found this site weeks ago. My roommate and I had gone out for drinks at our favorite pub, hoping to chat with a few of the regulars we’ve become close to while studying abroad. As we’re sitting there, this group of Belfast men, most old enough to be my father, begin beckoning me over. I refuse and try to ignore them, but every time the come up to the bar, they plant themselves on either side of my chair and press close. I continue to try to ignore them, only keeping my hand on my purse, because the area we’re living (and drinking) in has had a recent spike in pickpocketing. By now, my regular friends are beginning to get annoyed. One has been telling them off and another takes up fighting stance when two of them decide it’ll be a good time to spin me around. I tell my friends to ignore them, they aren’t worth it and try to return to my conversation when the youngest throws his arms around my shoulders and my roommate’s and starts begging us for kisses and both of us are telling him about the boyfriends we’ve left back in the states (convenient fibs about guys who we’ve both just recently turned down). These jerks just won’t let up, though and when I lean across the bar to tell the bartender (another friend and woman) that they’re all mad and I’m getting freaked, one tries to shove his fingers up my rear through my (knee-length, 3/4 sleeve) dress and black tights. I scream and nearly jump the bar and promptly hide and then the youngest tries to come around the bar when my roommate has finally told him that it he doesn’t get off, she’ll break his nose (she could and would do it, too). When I tell him he and his friends are making me uncomfortable and I don’t appreciate having my butt grabbed, he makes a grab for me and I jump away. He only managed to get my hip. At this point, the bartender kicks them all out (except for one drunken lout who’s so hammered he passes out and cuts his head open on the bar). I wish I’d said more. I wish I’d told them what pathetic, dirty little toads they all were.
I found out later that week they were living in our building. We both avoid the courtyard like there’s a 20 starving Komodo Dragons living out there, except I think these guys are scarier!
Submitted by Alicia
Just found out about this site via the radio, and it’s motivated to finally share my story.
A few years ago when I had just turned 18, I stopped at the gas station on the corner near my house on my way to work. There was only one older gas attendant, 56 I would later learn, working. He kept glancing over his shoulder which I thought was really weird, but I just kept my music on and pretended not to notice. Then, when the last car in the station was gone he leaned against my car and started asking questions/making comments – did I have a boyfriend, I was very pretty…
I was incredibly nervous but figured i’d be out of there in a minute, i’d only asked for $5 worth of gas to make it to work and back. Instead, he mumbled something I didn’t understand…and then stuck his hand DOWN my shirt and into my bra. Without even thinking I floored it and drove away, with him hanging half out of my window. I was appalled that he shouted, “call me!” while I was driving away.
It wasn’t until I called my mom in tears that I realized I had to do something. I went with my dad to the police station, which ironically is positioned directly across the street from the gas station, to make a report. I was beyond mortified to have to explain to both the cop and my dad what had happened – was it a grope or a fondle…inside the clothes or outside…how long was it? After a million questions I was taken in the back of a cop car to identify him, and then had to listen as he made up excuse after excuse while the cops questioned him.
Thankfully I didn’t have to go to court myself, the cop testified for me. My initial decision directly after the incident was to just pretend it didn’t happen, but i’m glad I took action. I found out that this guy already had a restraining order against him because he had done the SAME thing to another girl only a few towns over. It’s been 6 years and I still take someone with me to get gas and only lower my window a crack to slip the money through.
Submitted by Brittany
I got off work as a bartender at 1 am on a Saturday night and was headed to a late night food take out place on Lincoln.
Lincoln Ave has lots of bars so it also has lots of police presence.
I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt tied at the waist, and jean shorts to my knees. No cleavage, no skin except arms and lower legs, and I was wearing sneakers.
A guy walking towards me just pushed me up against the wall and started groping me, he was drunk as can be, and I shoved him off me and I was angry beyond words and I started punching him as hard as I could figuring I would get in as many licks as I could until the policeman who was like 30 feet away would come over. I was so fueled I didn’t care if I got hurt, my adrenaline was pumping.
The guy was hitting me back more than I was hitting him so I stepped back and started screaming for the cop who finally came over. I asked the cop why it took so long for him to come over and get this answer…..He said, “I thought you knew each other.” AS IF THAT MATTERED!!!!
Pigs!! I signed a blank complaint form after telling my story not knowing how this process works. I went to the appointed court time at 11 am on the designated day, sitting for over an hour and my case was not called. I was so out of place in the scum hole of the court room, that the prosecutor finally came over and asked me what I was there fore. When I showed him my paperwork, he went through the GARBAGE and found the paperwork for me. My case was at 9 am. The cops purposely told me the wrong time so the groping asshole could get the complaint dropped.
I’m disgusted all over again just writing this. Ladies, take no shit!
Submitted by Gigi
This happened to me 4 years ago when I was in college. My school’s campus is right next to a train stop. I was on my way to a meeting at another university and was dressed in dress slacks and blouse. As I was going up the escalator I felt something going in between my legs. I turned around and realized there was a man feeling me up. I asked him what the fuck was he doing. His reply, “Bitch you know you like it” and he ran down the escalator. I was in total shock, there was a train on the platform but I went into autopilot mode I went back down stairs and told the attendant where I went into hysterics, after calling the police he decided to give me a “hint”: I should wear sweatpants when I take the train and bring a change of clothes with me because I have such a shapely body that sometimes men can’t resist and I should hide my body to make it less likely something like that’ll happen.
I felt so victimized that day, not once but twice…. I still see that attendant every once in a while and I relive the memory every time I see him.
Submitted by lawyer-in-training
I’ve probably been groped about a half dozen times in my life (on the street, at a concert, on the subway, at an amusement centre, at work…) and witnessed a man masturbating in a parking lot not far from me, trying to get me to come over to him.
But this story is a bit different – it involves two men, in broad day light, on a busy London subway train.
I was standing near the subway doors and doing my best to move out of the way for people coming on and off the train. As the doors opened, I moved away from the doors but felt something rub on my ass as a man exited the train. Then I felt the same thing happen again and noticed this second man exit, this time with his hand in his pocket and clearly sticking out so as to have rubbed up on me. I saw the first man look back and give the second man a knowing look (sort of like ‘that was fun’).
By the time I realized what happened the doors were closing and there was not much I could do about it.
I didn’t get to say anything this time (although in the past, I have chased a groper down the street yelling at him as he got away on his bike). However, I did want to share this story because it’s important to show that these are not isolated incidents, where only one (sick/crazy) man is involved. In this case, these were two men who felt that not only could they both grope me but that they could also get away with it, as they did.
I’m glad this website is here so that these incidents can get exposure. So that we can stop the myth that people can do this to other people, and that no one will speak up about it.
Here’s to assaults like this never happening, and here’s to us doing something about it when they do.
Submitted by C
I was in Paris on a school trip, and was riding the metro back to my hotel. It was super congested, and I was pressed up against one of the poles. Soon, I felt a hand on my butt. I thought at first that it was an accident, a brush, but no, he kept on groping my ass. I tried to move away from him, but I couldn’t really move. After he got off I told my friends who were with me. They responded with things along the lines of, “What could you expect with an ass like that?”
It was awful.
Submitted by Erin
A guy grabbed my ass at the intersection in front of a bunch of people. Nobody reacted, and I ran away. There’s something indescribably disturbing about getting groped in front of a bunch of stony-faced, disinterested people, and something shameful about not retaliating. Nobody should be made to feel so vulnerable and alone.
Submitted by Alex
When I was a freshman in college, my family spent Thanksgiving in NYC visiting other family members. The night before Thanksgiving, my entire family went to see the blown up balloon’s for the Macy’s Parade- needless to say to those that are familiar with NYC, it was PACKED! We were walking on the crowded sidewalks like herds of animals…so many people in so little space half going one way to the balloons, half going the other way back home. After we saw the balloons and were headed home, I was groped by a man who said “look at that shorty” to a group of 3 or 4 other friends. When I turned around to say something, they were long gone.
I was so surprised that in a giant crowd of people not only did these men do this, but that NOBODY on the other side of the sidewalk tried to stop them from running away.
Submitted by Brenna
Forego one extra drink tonight at that place you’ll be hanging out at, and send Hollaback some love! Love us with $5.
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?