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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?
It has happened to me twice in the same Times Square subway station, once about 4 years ago and then another time 1 year later.
I was touched by two different people in two separate occasions …
In the 1st occasion I was able to turn around and kick the guy in the ass… but on the 2nd occasion I pushed the guy real hard, he turned around and put his face really close to mine laughing… he looked like a criminal and had a horrible scar in his head…very creepy.
On both cases I made the report with the police… but it was useless… all they asked me was to identify among hundreds of pictures they had of previous sex offenders… all I have to say is that they all looked the same to me… so I couldn’t really identify them… I was so angry and felt so helpless.
I just urge everyone to report this type of behavior not only to police but a more effective method might be the phone (is kind of hard because you are so nervous and in shock at the moment… that you don’t know how to react).
Submitted by Sandra
Your harassers may be long gone by now, but you can ensure that catching these predators is an easier process for the next woman who experiences the shame and horror of being touched and fondled on a crowded train against her will. Give $5 today if you’ve felt relief from any of Hollaback’s past and current efforts. There are many.
I was headed home at night and this young guy walks up on me and starts flirty with me in an aggressive manner. He kept following as i headed down the train station for the 4 and 5 trains and grabbed my hand so I pulled back. He proceeded down the stairs half way but doubled back. It was a horrid and uncomfortable experience.
Submitted by Namiah
We know that many harassers are too busy being creepy and weird to, say, read the news. Help us reach those more verminous creatures by more creative efforts. $5 will help.
I was leaving the subway station, and getting onto the escalator and i hear people shouting thigs at me like heyy mami, hey sexy, and I turn around and see about 10 guys. Annoyed, I start walking up the escalator, only to hear cheering. I turned around and see one of the guys directly behind me. I gave him a dirty look and kept walking. All of a sudden i feel a hang slap my ass. I turned around and yell in the guys face, “are you kidding me?,” and kept walking, trying to get away from them. The guys kept cheering and cat calling all the way to the street exit, at witch point they followed me out, saying, “ohh were going the same way.” I began to get nervous and called my boyfriend who was a few blocks away. As the phone was ringing, i feel another hand hitting me on the ass. I wheeled around and the guys all said heyy heyyy heyy and kept saying things to me, cat calling. I quickened my pace but a few of them followed me around the corner, and kept asking me where i was going and what my name was, as i yelled at them that i don’t speak english, at which point i thankfully saw my boyfriend who had run outside, and the guys immediately crossed the street and kept walking.
Submitted by J
There’s sometimes an unclear line between free speech and verbal harassment that makes many women hesitant to take action against their harassers. There’s no fine line between free speech and slapping a stranger on the ass, though. That’s illegal and we’re sick of it. Help us tell the city we won’t tolerate it. You can, with $5.
My name is Meiling and I am a senior in high school. While I have only been on this earth for 17 years, I have been the victim of sexual harassment a countless number of times, in fact, too many times. Every day I either have to deal with a grown man staring creepily at me and my body, or an inappropriate comment slipped at me while walking down the street. I cannot explain how uncomfortable this makes me feel and how frightened I am when this happens to me on a
My most memorable and frightening encounter with sexual harassment occurred about a year and half ago when I was walking home from school and a large man in a heavy coat walked by me and rubbed his hand along my arm. It happened so fast I didn’ t really make sense of what had just happened and thought it might have been by accident.
However, in the following days I saw the same guy about three more times and every time he walked past me he would touch my arm. I did not know what to do at the time. I felt helpless. This man was invading my personal space and made me feel very uncomfortable. Moreover, I was extremely afraid for my personal safety. Thank goodness I have never seen this man again, but this memory will forever stick with me.
It is unfair that we women and even young girls, because yes, girls younger than I experience sexual harassment, have to deal with this issue daily. Our personal safety is put into danger every time this happens because in addition to being sexually harassed we face the possibility of being verbally attacked or even physically attacked for rejecting a man who tries to talk to us in the street. This is why I am asking for a change to happen in our city of New York where I should feel safe walking by myself in the street. More enforced actions need to take place in order to stop sexual harassment and prevent it from happening.
I thank you kindly for taking the time to read my testimony and hope it better informed you on this issue.
When I was 17 years old (five years ago), I was in a Walgreens Drug Store purchasing a beverage. There was an older male employee there that I would see often and chat with him occasionally regarding the weather and such innocuous subjects.
This particular afternoon, he was restocking the beverages and I commented on how cold I was. He looked at me, laughed, and lunged forward… he wrapped his arms around me and said, “Let me warm you up, baby!”
After I managed to break free from his grasp, I left and never returned to that particular Walgreens again. At the time, I was naive teenager and the first thing I thought to myself was “What did *I* do to cause this to happen to me? What did *I* do that made him think it was all right to grab me in such a way?” I cried for a few hours over my lost dignity and respect, and it has still haunted me. Not until I came across Hollaback! did I realize I could do something. Thank you.
Submitted by Emily
I was walking home from [law] school last night around 10:20 p.m. My walk is only about 15 minutes, from Tribeca to the Financial District, and I normally walk very rapidly.
I’m always aware of my surroundings, especially at night, and am careful to remain in well-lit areas where other people are as well. As I was walking down Broadway, I noticed 2 boys in front of me. One was on a razr-type scooter, the other one (orange polo) was just walking.
Eventually I passed them, and as I did, the one of the scooter, who had been going around in a circle said, “Hey gorgeous.” I ignored him and walked faster. After about 30 seconds I could hear both of them behind me, and they were beginning to keep pace with me. They followed me all the way down Broadway, to Fulton Street. Along the way, they were muttering things to each other like “Yeah, she does have a nice ass though.” I probably behaved pretty stupidly, but I thought because there were people all around me, that these guys would give up and leave eventually. They seemed younger and weren’t overly intimidating. I pulled my phone out and had 911 ready-dialed in case it escalated too quickly. They continued to follow me down Fulton Street, but eventually the guy on the scooter pulled back. The second guy was still keeping stride, though, and as I neared a cross street, I heard the scooter guy yell, “Now, Man (Max, Mac?)” and the guy in the orange polo said “Now?,” began running past me, and grabbed my ass. He then slowed, stood at the next corner, and watched me pass. I felt so violated and completely degraded. I took a picture of him with my camera phone as I walked by him, because it\’s all I could think to do, but it came out very blurry.
I was out jogging on a Sunday morning around 11:00 AM while visiting my in-laws, who live 2 blocks from Frontier Park in Erie, PA. A tall, brown-fuzzy-haired, fit, attractive college-y looking guy in his early 20’s with wire-frame glasses in red basketball shorts and a grey t-shirt passed me, smiled, and said “hi.” I’m a New Yorker so I don’t usually greet strangers but I figured it was probably common courtesy in Erie, so I said “hello.”
A split second later he came up from behind me, pulled me up against him, and groped my crotch. I elbowed him and he bolted down the street where my in-laws live. My husband and his family drove around the neighborhood searching for hours and never saw him. To my knowledge the cops never caught him either.
The scene: an extremely crowded G-train shuttle bus on a Saturday afternoon. Everyone was packed onto the train, everyone’s bodies were touching each other, but I was surprised to feel someone’s hand squeezing my ass. I looked behind me and saw a man’s hand poised there behind his back–still in a cupped position as if he felt no shame or need to hide his covert grope. I was completely enraged and I turned around, grabbed him by the shoulder, and shouted “Did you just grab my ass? Because you totally just did!”
For the first instant he looked shocked but he suddenly became angry and yelled back (though much quieter than me), “Shut the fuck up, you ugly bitch, or I’ll smack the shit out of you.” Now, the bus was very crowded, and I knew he wasn’t going to hit me, though I wish he would have so I could have beaten the hell out of him. So I replied, “You’re going to hit me because you groped me on a crowded subway shuttle and I noticed? Are you kidding me?” at which point he turns around and starts ignoring me. I turn to the friend I’m with and say as loudly as I can “That douchebag just grabbed my ass,” she responds “What a fucking freak,” etc., and I stand close to him glaring the rest of the ride.
I handled the incident just like I always hoped I would, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t make me feel shaken and violated. It was absolutely horrible. From this incident onward (about 4.5 months ago), I tell street harassers to fuck off on a regular basis–even if they say “You look gorgeous” or “God bless you.” It feels good, but it doesn’t come close to completely counteracting the feelings of victimization, rage and sadness that come along with being harassed on a daily basis for being a woman.
Submitted by Rachel
I was 40 years old living in Encinitas, CA and I had a one year old daughter who was born with GERD. We had to go to the doctor frequently for check-ups and follow-ups and constant ear/sinus infections for her. Her pediatrician was a founding member of an 8 doctor pediatric practice. He complimented me on how I looked every time he saw me but I put it down to being friendly. Then one visit he had me holding my daughter in my lap while he looked into her ears. He straddled my leg to get in close to her and I started to feel uncomfortable. He then started slowly stroking his crotch across my thigh. He spent a long!! time!! looking in one ear!! He then looked in the other ear without straddling my other leg. I was so shocked and disgusted and paralyzed.
My sister’s children had the same pediatrician and so I asked her if she had ever noticed anything weird about him. She then revealed to me that one time during an exam of her daughter he had “accidentally” caressed her breast while reaching for her daughter. She said “I felt weird about it at the time, but I didn’t really know whether it had happened or not”.
This gave me the courage to report it to the other founding member of the practice, a woman, who dismissed my concerns completely. Needless to say I switched doctors. The truth is I know what I know and what I know is that my genitals are never in contact with another person’s body without my knowledge/awareness.
I know it’s not a street harassment but I needed to Hollaback about it. The creepiness of it still bothers me and I wish I could have done more to protect the next woman.
Submitted by Valerie