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I was on the LIRR train on my way home from school when a man sat down next to me and began trying to strike up a conversation. I was cordial, but then began ignoring him as he clearly started trying to hit on me. After about 15 minutes, he took his phone out, tried to casually hold it with his right arm (the side next to me), and slanted it up so that it was angled between my legs and up my dress. This all happened in seconds. Then, I heard the distinctive click of a camera sound.
I was stunned, but after a second or two I stood up and immediately started screaming at the man in front of the other passengers. In my shock that something like this had actually happened to me, it was cathartic to stand in front of him and all the other passengers and recount what he had done. I called him a “disgusting pig” and said “how dare you take an upskirt picture of me.” I wanted all the other passengers to know what he did, in hopes that if nothing else, he would be embarrassed by his perverted act.
Being a law student, I knew that immediately I wanted to create a record of what had happened. After I told the person who had taken tickets for my car, and he alerted the conductor (who, in turn, alerted the police), I turned around and walked back towards the man. He had plugged in his phone to charge it and while he was talking on it I held up my phone and took two pictures of him, while saying “how do you like having your picture taken.”
Although he got off the train at the next stop, I gave the police his pictures and all the information the man had volunteered when he was trying to hit on me on the train. He gave me his nickname (Alejandro) and his Myspace name. I also had gotten contact information from a man sitting in front of me who had witnessed the incident.
Two days later, I took the morning train out of Jamaica on the Ronkonkoma line. A few stops before I got off, Alejandro, the SAME man who had taken a picture up my dress, came up to me and sat down right across from me. Instantly, I was fearful and started looking around to see my options if I had to get away from him or if I needed to alert someone. Remarkably, he didn’t seem to recognize me at all.
I took advantage of this, and when he hit on me, using all the same lines as he had before, I played into it. I kept my head to the side so he could only see my profile and kept my sunglasses on, in case he suddenly had a flash of recognition. I found out his full name, his job, where he lived, and his phone number. I told him fake details about my life when he asked and stared at his phone every time he took it out so that I could give the police its exact details.
When I got off the train, I immediately contacted the detective the police department had put me in touch with and gave him all the information.
I ended up setting up a fake “date” with the man and the detectives I worked with were able to catch him. He had 17 prior convictions on his record, ranging from more benign crimes to violent ones. He also had a warrant out because he had skipped out on his probation meeting. I cooperated with the Assistant District Attorney and told my story to aid in his conviction of “Unlawful Surveillance.”
Women should feel that they have the right and ability to embarrass their harassers; but, it’s also important to follow through and report the incident with the police. Use your words, use your cameras, and use your ability to share your stories.
Submitted by Emily
Several years ago, when I was 29 years old, I was seated on a Redline train headed to my mother’s after a job interview. I am an attorney so I was dressed very conservatively in a navy blue suit and pumps. I noticed a scrubby man about my age sitting directly across from me trying to get my attention. When I looked at him he rolled his tongue around against the inside of his cheek, which had been common among juvenile males at my high school for indicating a desire for oral sex, and he mouthed the words to that effect. I was so disgusted I just looked him straight in the eye and said very loudly and meanly “Fuck you.” He looked shocked so I repeated “Fuck you and don’t look at me again.” He mumbled “I’m sorry” but as he was still looking at me I again repeated “Stop looking at me,” which he did. I then stared at him to make sure he didn’t look at me again until we arrived at the next stop where he made a hasty exit.
I felt bad because there were some young children on the train with their dad and I knew they heard me but probably didn’t see the loser pervert so on my way off a few stops later I apologized to the dad for swearing in front of the kids but said that a guy was making rude gestures at me.
What I concluded from the experience is that scrubby stranger stalkers in public places (as opposed to acquaintance stalkers or stalkers when no one else is around) are big cowardly, losers and that they are more afraid of you than you are of them and confronting their disgusting behavior head on will send them scampering away. This really shouldn’t be much of a surprise since if these guys weren’t losers they would have girlfriends or wives to satisfy their sexual needs and wouldn’t have to attempt to get their thrills skeeving out strangers in public.
Submitted by Sara
I find it really annoying when you are running/walking outside and a dude in a car slows down next to undressing you with his eyes. For one thing its obvious they are staring you down and they aren’t being secretive. It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and its extremely bothersome. Its ridiculous that I have to worry about what this guy is going to do. I should have the freedom to run or do whatever I want without having some disgusting perv stare.
Submitted by Cassie
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?
I was influenced by the plight faced by poor Ines Sainz, the reporter who confronted the New York Jets about sexual harassment, to post this. This is for you…
As you’re going to see here, this guy leered at me and, when I approached and confronted him about it, he got pissed and called me a “white girl” and, when he thought the camera wasn”t rolling, he said to me, “Fuck you.” This was not or ever meant to be a compliment. This was male entitlement, sexual harassment and the belief that, because, to him, I am an object, not a human being, a woman, he could intrude into my boundaries as he wished and maybe take my body as he pleased. The days of women being men’s property or second class citizens is over (And DON’T cite my profession (which is acting as a fantasy) because that is the rape mentality by using a woman’s morals to justify the abnegation of a woman’s right to consent – just as the moral police do in Afghanistan ). Little does he know or care that when he does that, he disrespects the very women that gave him life: his mother, sister or daughter. This happens to every woman worldwide, regardless of how they dress, appear, act (Egypt, where burqas are common, instituted a law which mandated a year jail sentence for sexual harassment). Thank goodness a fellow women in a high position to correct this wasn’t brainwashed by misogyny and took the plight of a fellow sister seriously.
In this country, we have an egregious rape epidemic of major proportions. It’s called the rape mentality. Women are being and have been told that if they wear a certain outfit, look attractive or, in any shape, manner and form, appear titilating to men, then they were asking for it! Really, what’s being said is is that, because you are a woman, you were asking for it. The whore/virgin complex is being used to facilitate and justify harm against women with the male entitlement/ rape mentality being used as a system to keep women oppressed and in check.
This is why I DON’T fuck with men unless they are tricks!
The rape mentality has got to go and more women need to start confronting these mofos. To any man who doesn’t understand – thank you for changing my sexual orientation!
This creepy little fuckface in the blue dress shirt was eyeing up every woman who either looked younger than 40 or was wearing anything that showed the vaguest sliver of skin. He seemed to particularly have a leg fetish- like a cutting up legs fetish, seriously, his gaze was so eerily intent. He’s looking over there because there were three teenage girls whose conversation he was actively eavesdropping on. I wanted to scream out, “ASSHOLE WE CAN SEE YOUR WEDDING RING AND WE’RE NOT INTERESTED ANYWAY.” FFS.
Submitted by Lucy
Despite the fact that I don’t live anywhere near New York, I’d like to submit my experience;
I’m a young caucasian girl and pretty oblivious at times. It was dark and I was taking the city bus home from a peer-education group meeting. I nearly always sit in the back of the bus because the drivers like to talk to pretty young girls if they’re sitting close enough. My city is pretty racially segregated and I happen to live in the ‘black’ part of town that’s up at bat for gentrification. The racial tension in the neighborhood is hideous and, at times, I’m ashamed of the color of my skin. This bus was predominately occupied by african-americans. I was feeling eyes crawling on my stupid whit skin and I was trying not to look as uncomfortable or out of place as I felt. I was listening to my ipod and texting my friend and trying to feel ok when I noticed these two older guys looking at my chest. One of them had dreadlocks with a receding hairline and the other had a cigarette tucked behind his ear. About thirty seconds after I noticed them, they both pulled their sunglasses over their eyes. They were talking to each other but I couldn’t hear what they were saying so I casually turned the volume of my music all the way down. Then Mr. Dreads pulled out his phone and they started talking about the camera function. Mr. Cigarette was saying something to the effect of ‘Oh that’s nice! Look at that resolution!’ The camera lens was pointed at my chest. I didn’t want to say anything and I didn’t want to move. I know that if the guys had been my same race, I’d have felt confident enough to yell at them but because of the pre-existing tension, I was unsure of how to deal with them. I didn’t (and don’t) want to be painted as racist but I felt it then. I was a minority in the situation but those men would have claimed me to be the aggressor. After a bit of thinking I worked up the courage to zip up my sweatshirt and turn my body slightly away from them.
I haven’t seen them since and hopefully won’t again. I’ve never been so uncomfortable and unsure of myself. I couldn’t even tell my mom about it for fear she would revoke the little freedom she gives me.
Submitted by Casper
NOTE: As part of our anti-racism policy, we do not identify the race of the harassers in the post, unless the relevance to the story is “clearly and constructively” explained. We felt this was a good example of that.
I have a trick for you. Get a camcorder (I got a handheld mino camcorder) and when someone who is ON THE JOB, especially if it’s “drive by harassment” and they’re driving a company vehicle, take down the name (if possible) and license plate (definitely a must!) and report them! I have done it so many times (Well, not that many, lol) that I’ve gotten rid of some bad apples. Hell, the threat alone will scare them. AlSO, ALWAYS have a recording device. I do, and it scares them faster than a gun (especially if they’re job is on the line or they’re driving) I don’t know if it will work in NY, but I know it works in Cali like a charm and better than any gun or pepper spray! Below is my street harassment report by an employee and how I’m handling it.
Dear Sir or Madam:
I want to report sexual harassment and outrageous behavior by your employee, G***, while on the job. On September 1, 2010, between the hours of 6:48 pm and 7pm, I was driving down Whilshire, away from Santa Monica and headed towards Beverly Hills when I noticed that your employee, took my picture, while he was driving. I inquired G*** as to whether he did it or not. He proudly said, “Yes, I did take your picture,” with glee. When I started recording him, that is when he took off. I was able to get a pic of him and of his license plate, a Virginia license plate. I feel strongly that what he did was not only morally and ethically wrong and reflects badly of your company, but reflects an absolute disrespect for women and a perverted, predatory attitude towards us. Who knows how many women he has done this to as well as what he is doing with those pictures. Based on how G*** proudly proclaimed that he did it, it’s obvious that he has done this predatory behavior in the past and has gotten away with it, which is why he felt so comfortable admitting to this. Women are not objects and I want to see Gene strongly reprimanded so that he won’t do this behavior again or else the next time he does this, instead of the next victim reporting it, they’ll decide to sue. In attachments are two stills from the video I took. My name is Raven Williams and my phone number is (witheld). Thank you for taking the time out to read my complaint and please take this matter fastidiously.
Submitted by Raven Williams
I have been harassed lots of times but the time that sticks out the most happened a couple of months ago.
I was sitting at the bus stop waiting for my bus when I noticed a skinny man in his 30’s walking towards me. The entire time he was walking towards me he was staring at my legs. At this point I already felt suspicious of him, but chose to ignore him when he sat down next to me. For the next ten minutes, while waiting for the bus, he would alternatively stare at my face and then my legs. A couple times he even got up and walked around me, as if inspecting me from all angles. I was freaked out, but still felt a little unsure. When my bus came, I kept sitting and waited for the other passengers to get on first. I wanted to see if he was going to get on. When he didn’t move I was relieved and assumed it wasn’t his bus. However when I got up to get on the bus he immediately darted from his seat and followed me on the bus.
I went to the back of the bus (stupid me, should have stayed near the driver). He sat in the same row, but on the other side of the aisle. I put in my earphones and started listening to music. I kept feeling weird about him but chose to ignore him. About 20 minutes into the ride I suddenly hear the sound of a camera taking a picture. I glance over at him and lo and behold he has his phone pointed straight at me and has just taken a picture. Now, there is no way he took a picture of anything else other than me. There was nobody else in that section of the bus. There was nothing near me or in my vicinity which could possibly have been something interesting to take a picture of. And in order to take a picture of me he had to shift his body sideways, which he had done. If he had by mistake just clicked the picture taking thing when doing something else on his phone he wouldn’t have been turned towards me. I was fuming angry. FUMING. And grossed out and pissed and angry to no extent. And what I can’t forgive myself for is what I did next: nothing. I literally just sat there in my seat pissed off and creeped out but didn’t want to cause a scene. And there was that tiny nagging voice in my head that said maybe I was wrong, maybe I was just imagining things.
What happened next wasn’t my imagination. When I got up to get off the bus, he also got up. I strategically placed myself behind him so that he would have to step off the bus first. That way, he would have to “choose” which direction to start walking in. He chose right, which would have been the direction I would have had to walk to get home, but no way was I going to walk behind him. So I turned left. I went into a little shop a little ways off from where I could still see him. He was back at the bus stop. And looking at the bus schedule. So clearly, he had only gotten off because I was getting off. If he had gotten off because he lived there he wouldn’t have stayed at the bus stop. I waited until the next bus, going back to town, came. He got on. Then I went home, annoyed and frustrated. I don’t even want to imagine what he did with that picture he took of me.
Submitted by Sonja
This happened a few years ago before I knew of Holla Back. I live in California and a friend and I were taking a trip to a convention. Costumes were encouraged so I dressed up in a pirate costume.
I had a long sleeved shirt, a close to knee length skirt, high boots, and a hat. Not the best pirate costume but it was last minute.
To get back to her car to get home we had to take the bus. After getting on the bus two girls give us these weird looks and asked why I’m dressed up.
I’m about to explain why when I see a flash go off. I turn to see a middle aged man turn off his camera and pocket it.
My friend laughed and said “They only photograph the beautiful ones!”
I, on the other hand, am angry. I shouted at him “What the hell are you doing?!”
Both my friend and the girls were horrified at my behavior and chastised me for yelling at a stranger. My friend told me that I shouldn’t be upset because he “only photographs the beautiful ones.”
The stranger made no effort to answer me and acted as if I hadn’t said anything. He continued to stare at me until our bus stop. On the way out I flipped him the bird which thinking back probably wasn’t the best idea in the long run but I was furious. I had been harassed before by boys and it really does take away a sense of safety.
I still do wear skirts but haven’t worn that pirate costume since the incident.
Submitted by Erin