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Last year, my family and I (17 years old) went to India to visit my grandparents. We are from South India and have never gone to see the Taj Mahal (in North India). Because of this my grandparents booked us all (my mom, brother, aunt, cousin, themselves, and myself) tickets to travel to North India. Near the end of our week long stay there (which was going so well) we decided to go to a Hindu temple and pray. On the way there, we decided to hold hands with each other as it was very crowded and the area was hard to navigate. I decided to hold my aunt’s since she was standing closest to me. As we started walking, I noticed a man walking straight towards me as if he was going to run into me. Slightly unnerved by this but otherwise unsuspectingly I just made sure to move a little closer to my aunt and keep my distance from him. We continued walking, and as I passed the man, he stuck his arm out in my way and made sure to rub it against my inner thigh (I’m still not sure if he was trying to grab my crotch instead)! In that moment, I became extremely fearful of him and felt like bawling my eyes out from the humiliation. I mean, come on! He touched one of my most private areas in public, in front of my family nonetheless! I felt humiliated and dirty the rest of the trip (especially since after that we were going to temples and praying)! I was just really glad my family was there; I fear what he would have done if I was alone.
A few days ago I was walking and minding my own business when two men did that “walk into her path” thing. You know the one, where they force you to walk into them or get you in a spot where it’s very easy to grab at you?
So to my left is a wall so I had to really work to not walk into them. They kept eye contact the whole time and tried to grab me. I pushed one of them (the one closest to me was about to reach for me) and yelled at them (I was furious, this is not the first time I’ve been in this situation, this same thing happened with one big man just a few months ago) and they just laughed at me! I can only assume they were laughing at what little power I had in the situation.
It makes me feel like it’s time to walk around with the mace cocked and loaded. I’m tired of being nice and doing the extra work to avoid these assholes. I am so SO angry and tired of this kind of thing. Whenever I choose to leave the house alone I have a 90% chance of being harassed. It’s ridiculous and infuriating.
Smelly drunk guy decided to take advantage of the super-packed bus to rub himself against my butt. I didn’t feel like I could speak up because I was scared that the other passengers wouldn’t support me, since there were no other women in the immediate area.
I was walking around on Long St. during a sunny afternoon the last day of my 3 month stint in the beautiful country of South Africa. I’d just had a minor operation done, and was enjoying the sunny day. I’m 21, walking on the side-walk minding my own business. I felt someone walking behind me. There was a man, probably 300 feet behind me, walking. For some reason, I had the urge to look behind me… but it seemed normal, I brushed off my intuition. A few seconds later, he ran up behind me, grabbed my bottom, between my legs and bottom, and ran off. I was stunned. I didn’t know if I ought to yell, scream, chase him down, stop, cry, what do I do? I was stunned. I didn’t do anything. I paused for a moment, attempted to digest what happened, scoffed, and kept walking. I was wearing a dress, I was on my period, I felt violated, I was violated. What gave him the right to touch me? What went through his head that made it seem as though that’s okay?
I didn’t tell many people because I didn’t know how I felt about it. I didn’t want people to overreact, I’d dealt with it. I’m okay with it. It happened, it’s over, it doesn’t make me who I am, it doesn’t take away from who I am. It happened, and it’s over. I’m not mad. I’m not sad. I am free, and free from that experience as well.
I was at a Halloween party and this guy was saying “good-bye” to everyone who passed. I said “bye” to him. He then stoked/grabbed/tickled the length of my torso. I instinctively brought up my arm as if to back hand him. He said, “oh, oh. Hit me. Go ahead, hit me.” With a disgusted face, I lowered my hand and said something like, “that is NOT cool. You should NOT do that to anyone.” Then I walked away. After contemplating the situation later I realized that I should have stayed by him, talked to him and made him feel very uncomfortable by standing my ground. He won that interaction and I could have annoyed him until HE walked away. He was alone and I was at a house surrounded by people who know me.
When I was 17 I played on a traveling soccer team and in order to get to practice I would have had to drive between 25 and 30 miles of back country winding road to get there. So since the coach was a man who had worked with my dad for close to 30 years he made the suggestion that I could ride with him because I was not a very experienced driver, so that way my parents would know I was going to make it home safe. All during practice he kept asking me what kind of underwear I had on and he would tell us all how great our rear ends looked, but we just passed it off as it’s just him being him and laughed it off. Well when we left, it was just he and I in the car because the rest of the team were from that county, he starts up again with the comments and I just laughed it off like I always did. Then he pulled onto a side road that I had never seen before so I just sat there. And when I asked why we were here he said he wanted me to see the “coolness” of his van that he bought for the team to travel in. So while still in my seat i turned my head to look back and he said that the back row of seats fold out into a full size bed and he said that the shades are made in a way that we can see out but no one can see in. There are no words for how afraid I was in that moment, so I just stayed strapped in the front seat and begged with him for an hour to take me home. When he finally got back up in the drivers seat he asked me if he had upset me, I told him yes you have upset me more than you will ever know– to which then he replied “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to that wasn’t my intention” and I said yeah I know what your intentions were now drive me home. It was then that he leaned over and tried to hug me and asked for a kiss. I squirmed away from it and told him to drive me home right now and to be prepared because when my dad and big brother and my big brothers friends that all see me as their little sister too find out what you’ve done, they are gonna drag your name so far through the mud that by the time it comes out it’s gonna reveal who you really are.
I know this didn’t happen to me on the street but he is one of those men who will harass a woman if he sees the opportunity. And until now I haven’t had the strength to say anything to anyone except for my immediate family, and I think this is a much bigger monster than any of us realize or maybe even want to realize. I also had another so called friend grope me while we were trying to workout one day because I asked him to give me some tips and help me with my workout. He was probably in his 40s and was a mutual friend of mine and he had known me since high school and I was friends with both of his sons yada yada yada. When he did that I was immediately in shock and scared because he was a very physically strong man. So when we went to leave I left and never went back or returned his calls. About 2 weeks after that I see him in the Wal-Mart parking lot and he grabbed my arm so tight that I couldn’t break loose and he asked me what I had told our mutual friend. I told him that I told them the truth, they asked me how the workouts were going and I just broke down and started to feel trapped all over again, I felt like I was trapped in that god awful van again. I didn’t find out until about a year later that my friend, my best friend chewed him up one side and down the other and told him that if he ever touched me again in any way that he would have my best friend to deal with, and they are someone that you do not want to cross.
Everyday and everywhere women get harassed.
I would like to share three stories that happened to me on a daily basis:
1. I got out of the subway and went up the stairs that guide you to the street exit. While I was climbing up the stairs a 40′ year old man was going down, passed right next to me and touched slightly my buttock. I look behind to see his face and kept on going thinking to myself “it’s not worth it to say anything right now…just keep going”. A minute later, I felt a finger pressing between my legs and I saw him (so he came back, climbed up and touched me again!) I pushed him hard and screamed: “What the f**k man!” really angry! He looked at me and I saw a glimpse of a smile. At that moment I felt powerless and went away quickly.
2. I was walking down a street with a friend to school some years ago when I was still in high school. We saw a man walking in the opposite way, towards us. There was nothing suspicious about the guy until the exact moment when we crossed he came close to my ear and whispered “I would lick all of you baby, you’re so fine”. Again I felt powerless because I felt that I couldn’t even reply and defend myself even in a verbal way because he could attack us or hurt us…it’s frustrating
3. Me and two girlfriends were having a great picnic in a park next to the river. We were having such a great time eating our snacks and talking until we realised there was an old man sitting in the nearest park seat touching himself on his baggy shorts, clearly jerking off, looking our way! We decided to pack our stuff and go away. At that time I couldn’t help myself and started screaming so that everyone in the park would look at him and see what was going on instead of just passing by without saying a word. I screamed “What the f**k are you doing! go home! that’s disgusting! people look at this man, he is touching himself! don’t you have a daughter, a grandchild? go home! you’re disgusting!”
We live in a country where the freedom of speech is guaranteed but in the streets we don’t feel that. We have to shut up, put our earplugs, walk quickly, look behind each street corner and don’t reply on any comment.
I was coming back home with my little sister. We were walking just around the corner from our house. Suddenly, I heard the sound of a motorbike behind me, and the guy who was driving grabbed my left buttock so hard, that I couldn’t even move…I was so shocked.
I felt very disgusted and powerless for not being able to do anything…
I was walking home from work. It was not even dark outside. A man walking towards me had a shifty look in his eyes. I immediately got a bad feeling but kept walking which was a huge mistake. Right before he got to me he said “nice boobs” and grabbed my chest and ran off like the coward that he is. This was years ago but I never forgot it. Now I am paranoid when I walk down the street even though I don’t live in the same city. I did report it to the police and they accepted the report without fail but they never “caught” the guy. After it happened I ran home and I had this overwhelming feeling of disgust. I wanted to vomit, it made me feel so violated.
I was delighted to hear of your website – what a wonderful idea.
I also thought it would be so freeing to share my stories. Don’t know if they will be very relevant, because it is a collection, but I decided to share anyhow. Keep in mind that I am an ordinary looking girl, quiet and modest in dress and demeanor. I am only reporting incidents that took place in the street or on public transport.
As a child of age 7-8:
• Two boys of about 10-11 followed me home along the road and tried to pull down my pants (I was wearing a dress). My parents later tracked them down and spanked them!!
As a teenager aged 13-16:
• while buying something at a roadside kiosk, a young man behind me reached between my legs;
• when at farmers markets I had men try to put hand on my backside (more than once);
• when walking down the street on my way home after school, a young man blocked my way, and asked where I was going. I said, “home”. He said, “where is home?” I randomly pointed to a stranger’s house across the street and said, “there!” I proceeded to march across the street while the man grabbed and slightly tore a frill on my blouse, and also tried to grab my hair. I opened the garden gate (fortunately unlocked), and walked right into the backyard of the unknown house. The young man finally let go when I pushed inside the gate. A surprised child was playing in the yard, and his kind mother let me call my mom to come get me and drive me home. After hearing the story my mom was very angry and wanted to track down the man who had harassed me, but I was terrified and begged her not to.
As a young adult (‘20s):
• Was flashed when walking the gardens of a public park.
• When riding in crowded tram, standing and holding onto an overhead grip, felt man press his body against mine from behind – uggggghhh! But unable to move because it was so crowded, and I couldn’t clearly see who was doing this. Felt helpless and so angry at that disgusting man.
• When walking through the edge of a public park, a man walking towards me suddenly reached up and put his hands on my breasts as he passed me.
• (This next story has a satisfying ending): I had recently attended a 1 hour self-defense presentation at my workplace, and was reading a book as I rode the subway home (BART). I noticed out of the corner of my eye, that the man seated next to me had put his hand on the seat, and was gradually inching it closer and closer to my leg as I read. I realized he was planning to touch my leg. My first instinct would have been to move, but because of that self-defense presentation, I decided to stay put because to move would be to just give in. I watched the hand s-l-o-w-l-y move closer until finally it brushed against my leg – and at the moment I instantly slapped his hand hard, and loudly said, “Get your hands off me, you creep!!!!!” Then I went back to reading my book (of course, not seeing a word on the page! ) The man pulled his hand back and cowered into the corner of the seat, and said, “Sorry!” I hoped that my response might cause that man to think twice before doing that to another woman.
These incidents seem very minor, but the fact that they stand out so much in my memory shows that sexual harrasment is no joke and truly causes harm.