Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Denver, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lubbock TX, Manhattan KS, Muncie IN, New Orleans, New York City, NYU, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, SUNY Oneonta, Tucson, Twin Cities
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
I was on the #1 train yesterday going home from a long day of work. It was already past 8pm and the trains were acting up (many delays on 2/3 and 1. Passengers had to switch at least 3 times!). In any event I was finally settled on the #1 minding my own business when all of a sudden a flash goes off. I looked up and across from me this creepy guy has taken a picture of me with his blackberry. I had noticed earlier that he was looking at his blackberry but I thought he was reading it. I asked him, “what was he taking a picture of?” He responded nervously nothing and then when I repeated the question, he stated that the flash went off accidentally (yeah, it accidentally busted you!). I kept repeating, “what were you taking a picture of?” I told him I did not believe him and asked him to show me the picture. He started fiddling with the camera the blackberry and then claimed he couldn’t find it. I told him that was convenient. This conversation was taking place loud enough for other riders to hear and they were paying attention. A gentleman sitting next to the creep got up took the creep’s picture with his phone and then the gentleman sat next to me. This gentleman told me that he had noticed the creep taking pictures of me earlier. He gave me his card and told me to email him and he would send me the creep’s photo. What a hero!
The creep then became more nervous and showed me the picture on his blackberry. It was picture of my leg and feet (WEIRDO!!!). I had on a short dress and flip flops. I knew he couldn’t see anything else because my legs were together. (I know I shouldn’t have to say that part but every time I tell the story I feel compelled to explain that I wasn’t showing any underwear or something to cause this). I made the creep delete the picture. I asked him were there any other pictures. He then showed me a blurred picture of my leg. My hero had gotten off at this point. The creep started talking to me and said, “You see, I deleted the picture.” He repeated that a few times. I told him to stop talking to me. He walked away and stood a few feet. I was nervous about getting off my stop but I didn’t want to stay on the train anymore. So I got off. I will be taking another train for the next few weeks. I suspected the police could not do anything but I tried anyway. I spoke to the first police officer I saw. He informed me that no crime was committed. That it was not illegal to take a picture of someone on the subway and unfortunately, the creep can do whatever he wants with whatever other pictures he has on his blackberry. My hero emailed me the photo last night and tipped me about this website. It is good to know that for every creep out there, there are also great men too.
Lesson for the day: Ladies, pay attention. When you think they are reading their blackberries, they may be taking a photo of you.
Submitted by Nancy
I was sitting on the E train today, heading back to Queens from the city. I had a book out but I was taking a break from reading it. I was looking around the train and noticed this man mouthing “I love you” to me and then winking at me. I was pissed off from harassment my friend and I endured earlier in the day. So, I responded to him with a death stare. I had an angry, angry face that I made and I just kept staring at him for what felt like 10 minutes, meanwhile, he was still winking at me and mouthing “I love you”. I was completely creeped out because he’s old enough to be my father. I grimaced at tuned away from him and went back to my book. I took a quick picture of him when I left the train so I could hollaback.
Submitted by Mariya
Earlier this year on a chilly, windy day, I, a girl who had yet to turn 15, was walking through the parking lot of a store. I was wearing a dress and some thick tights but had no coat, so I walked fast to get to my car. As I am walking I hear a car slowly driving behind me but I think little of it, assuming that they only want the parking space that I am walking through. I notice that the car is still there but still don’t pay much attention. When I get to my car I turn around and see a van full of perverted men hanging out the windows ogling my butt. They start to drive away and I am so shocked that all I have time to do is give them an angry look. I wish I had done more but I was too embarrassed and angry to.
Submitted by Shelby
I was walking to my car from my apartment to pick up my little sister and I’m halfway across the lawn when I get a “Hey! Hey!” There is a group of guys loitering on the stoop of my neighbor the drug-dealer’s apartment that I haven’t noticed (how do I know he’s a drug dealer? because his girlfriend welcomed me to the neighborhood about a month before this incident by telling me if I needed anything to just knock on their door). I pause, turn and realize it’s not someone I know, turn back, and continue walking. I hear something along the lines of a “How are you doin?” and pause again to say “Fine.” I am going to continue to my car but then they invite me inside the leering doorway “Hey! Come over here! Come in here!” I stammer something about I can’t, I have to pick up my sister, goodbye. Is my Achilles heel the fact that I am pretty much always polite? I’m an introvert, quiet and timid with low self-esteem and know nothing of your website yet. I’ve been harassed before by men, usually in cars, and normally just put my head down and keep walking. But these are my neighbors–or at least friends/clients of them.Your neighbors know where you live, what car you and your mom drive, when your little sister gets off the schoolbus. I am afraid of retribution if I am rude. I just turned 18 a week ago.
So I get to my car and put my purse and cellphone on the passenger seat when one of the men RUNS up to the passenger-side window. He’s in baggy street-clothes and is mentioning me to roll my window down. I consider driving off but I second-guess myself and roll the window about 3/4s of the way to see what he wants. I am not totally paralyzed with fear until he sticks his head and arm INTO MY CAR. I want to drive away but that might decapitate him and then I will be held responsible for murder. I feel claustrophobic. There’s a big, scary, man, late 30s-mid 40s, in my car, and if he wanted to, could reach out and touch my face (which is stuck in an obviously frightened and pained smile, throughout our conversation).
His name is Jafar. I ask him if he is my neighbor. He says yes. He says he’s surprised that I didn’t just drive off (indicating he’s done this to others before, great…). He wants my phone #. I tell him I’m late, I have to get my little sister. But he wants my phone #. He is a fast talker, it’s scary. I tell him I have a boyfriend. I tell him that my boyfriend doesn’t want me giving out my #. He says that that “doesn’t matter.” He wants me to give him my #. I try to make an excuse about not having a phone but it’s right on the passenger seat. He’s staring at me. My brain is cloudy with fear, I don’t know what to do. I put his number in my phone instead. This has worked at parties with guys who I don’t want to bother me anymore. I tell him I’ll call him. He says to call him right then. An obvious “no minutes” excuse slips my mind. I call him and shit, now he has my phone #. His phone # has a strange area code, so I ask him about it (since I know he has my # and knows where I live, I want to get as much info as I can on him). A sketchy answer–that you could pick any area code you wanted at the cell phone store…so he picked an out-of-state one? I ask him again if he is my neighbor. He says no this time, that he’s just visiting. I can feel the blood in my veins. I guess he finally takes pity on me and extracts himself from my window, letting me go.
My heart is racing and I want to puke. I cry on the way to getting my sister. I warn her about the neighbors and park in the back of the building. In order to tell my mother about this I would have to wake her up. My mother works night shifts and needs her sleep. Plus this would make her worry even more about us. I cry and call my boyfriend and my boyfriend tells his mom and his mom says I should call the police. But by now this incident has happened hours ago. Jafar is no longer outside. Plus, what would they do, arrest him? For what? Isn’t it my fault, since I stupidly rolled down my window? I still feel frightened though. I double check all the locks and windows. I have trouble falling asleep the next few nights.
I still have Jafar’s # in my phone, so that I can choose to not answer it if he ever calls. He hasn’t. It’s been about 3 months. I not scared anymore but I still mostly park in the back. I don’t want any attention from my neighbors, ever again.
I question why I didn’t just drive off, leave him in the dirt. (The meek will never inherit the earth.) I question alot of things–how he came to have such audacity to invade my personal space–either his complete and utter ignorance of my frightened eyes and smile, or his selfishness as he brushed my feelings of safety away to make room for his own desires. I question women’s gender role in society, to be submissive and pandering and timid and accepting. I question past wrongs: “Titties!” screamed out a car window, numerous car-honkings and tongue-flickerings from vehicles zooming past, a manager at the fast-food joint I worked at who took a plastic toy into the break room and rubbed it between my 14-year-old breasts.
Many, many questions, and I think I’ve come to a conclusion for one of them. I let Jafar psychologically screw with me because I was afraid that, if I stood up for myself, I would come back and he’d still be there, pissed and waiting for revenge. That I’d walk past him and be yelled at, or rushed at and chased after, or the door to my apartment would be scribbled with obscenities, the window cracked, the lock broken. I don’t know if this is an irrational thought or not, if I am just paranoid. I know it’s the coward’s way out (is this victim-blaming?). It’s not noble to do nothing, but I felt–and feel, remembering this–trapped. I want to stand up for myself, but when it’s so close to home, it’s not just big anonymous you. It’s your family, too. I don’t want anything happening to me or my sister or mother. In another apartment complex my little sister was raped. I don’t want it to happen ever again.
Submitted by Gianna
Editor’s Note: Sometimes staying quiet in the moment is the best, most noble defense that we have. It’s doesn’t mean that we’re weak. Street harassment oftentimes leaves us with very few defenses in the moment, but that’s why holla’ing back is so important. Gianna could of just stood up for herself in front of her harasser, but instead she’s standing up for herself on a much bigger platform: the thousands of you that are reading this right now. What’s more heroic than that?
I have had my fair share of leering from the security guards at chelsea market. Being singled out in a crowd when I cut through the market on my way to work is always testing my patience. Being a woman of color I always wonder – is this racial stereotyping? Sometimes I cover my head with a cloth – so the reasons why people stare are multiple. When other people see the guards leering at me I feel so tiny- so humiliated like, “gee what will all these non brown people think…maybe I did something bad?”
….no, just trying to live in peace.
Today it was pretty clear I was being harassed. I was walking hand in hand with my bf. I was wearing a long shirt that covered my behind, non fitting… for those wondering. Sundays are crowded. The guard near the far entrance was lifting his head from far. I was not even checking to see if he would leer …he started to turn to me…nod his head up and down my body with those elevator eyes accompanying the head. For once, since I was not alone, I waived my finger saying “no”, he nodded his head fast “yes” and showed me his teeth attempting a “guilty smile” and looked up at my eyes and down to my butt nodding “yes”. I told my bf how it hurts that he is suppose to be protecting me- but is leering. My bf turned around and the guy was still leering.
My bf walked over and said quietly, “my gf feels uncomfortable with the way you are staring”.
He shouted at us both and said GET OUT OF HERE GET OUT IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT GET OUT.
Swear to god this is true, yes, a guard told us to get out of chelsea market if we don’t like how he’s leering at us.
I don’t have a photo but feel awful he said that to my bf. I intend on writing a letter, but to who to where? I hope there are cameras there, its all on tape no one has to “believe” me.
Well, thanks holla back at least I feel I can send this to you for now.
Submitted by Anonymous
Dear HollaBack and all you women who like to chill in Central Park this summer,
I want to warn you about a wanker I encountered this past weekend:
On Saturday afternoon, I went back to a really lovely spot on the shore of the lake just a few paths in from the West 77th Street entrance — plenty of rocks to climb and sit upon to read or watch the water. There’s an area at water-level where I sat down to read — people were nearby on other rocks and plenty of rowboats were out on the lake, but people kept coming and going in my immediate vicinity. After awhile, this dude sat down a couple rocks away from me and took out an electronic device — this didn’t seem weird to me, since I’d noticed plenty of people come and go with cameras, take some photos of the lake, and leave, but I couldn’t figure out if this device was a camera or not. The dude set it in his lap and stayed there for a while, and then moved to a rock right next to me slightly higher up and straddled it, with the device still in his lap. I gave him a dirty look and shifted a little farther away from him when one of his legs was only a few inches away from my head, but otherwise stayed where I was — why should I have to be the one to move? I was there first, and I was absorbed in my book, so I ignored him, figuring he was just trying to find the most comfortable place to get settled, as I had done when I’d first arrived.
After a few more minutes, he moved again, this time to a rock a few feet away, kitty-corner to mine. I thought it was weird that he sat down facing me instead of facing the lake, but again I didn’t say anything, because he wasn’t actively bothering me and I just wanted to keep reading my book. Still, I was trying to figure out what his device was, because I’m paranoid about strangers taking photos of me without my knowledge, so I wanted to be sure it didn’t have a camera — but every time I looked up, I accidentally caught his eyes through his sunglasses, and he just stared creepily back at me. Of course, that part was not a new experience — dudes staring creepily — but I was physically comfortable where I was, relaxing into my first days of summer . . . so despite the slightly uneasy feeling I got, I just chalked it up to him being an awkward dude, your usual guy on the street/subway/wherever who stares but at least doesn’t say or do anything about it.
The next time I glanced up, though, I saw that HE HAD HIS DICK OUT. His pants were all the way open, and he was hard and jerking off fast. What. The. Fuck! It was so unexpected and repulsive, all I could do was make a horrified/disgusted face, grab my things, and get the hell away from there as quickly as possible. I was extremely shaken up, so freaked out that I couldn’t even scream at him or tell anyone else nearby what was happening. I just left the park as quickly as possible, called a couple of friends to calm me down, and didn’t stop walking until I’d walked dozens of blocks back to my apartment. How long had he been doing that and I hadn’t even noticed? What kind of person thinks that is remotely okay to do? I felt disgustingly violated, and still wish I could get the nauseating image of his face and his dick out of my head. Part of me started blaming myself for not moving the hell away from there from the moment I noticed that he was sitting on rocks closer to me than any polite person would, and then another part of me has been trying to shut that voice up ever since: There is no excuse for what that dude did. I had every right to be where I was, quietly reading in my own personal space, and he had no right whatsoever to take my presence as a woman as invitation to pull his dick out and wank in front of me.
I just hope that letting other women know about him will prevent this dude from violating anyone else. Assuming that he frequents the park to do this (which of course I have no way of knowing), I hope that somebody will catch him at it and have the power to do something about it. He was a tall, white, brunette, thirtysomething dude in shorts, wearing sunglasses and carrying an Insignia DVD Player (which I finally figured out did not have a camera), if that helps at all. If a dude sits near you when obviously there are other places to sit, I hope you have the voice I didn’t to tell him to move the fuck away. I assumed the best in this dude — that he was just an awkward guy trying to get comfortable on a nice day in the park — when really there are way more creeps who actually think it’s okay to pull their dicks out and do this in public, in front of or even on women. I know there are decent men in this world, but (from my own experiences and from reading other infuriating HollaBack posts here) this city keeps trying to prove me wrong.
Thank you so much for this forum to share my experience, even if you don’t end up posting it on the site, although I really hope you will. (I know it’s kind of long, but I couldn’t figure out how to write about it all more succinctly!)
Submitted by Sarah