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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
I was in the lower level of the Century 21 Shoe Department in the Financial District a few weeks ago, where I witnessed a middle-aged man taking photos on his cell phone of a woman in a skirt trying on shoes. Being familiar with your website I tend to be aware of potentially harassing behavior, unfortunately I did not have my phone on me to snap a pic of him. I noticed the man standing behind a circular rack of rainboots doing something with his cell phone, as I looked around I continued to notice his unusual behavior. Then I noticed the woman in the skirt trying on shoes, as she stood up to look in the mirror he stuck his phone below her skirt to snap a photo, at which point I yelled “what do you think you’re doing!?!?” He pretended to be bending over to pick up a pair of boots off the rack. I told the woman what he was doing.
Just wanted to let everyone know to beware of this creep the next time you’re trying on shoes.
Submitted by Ashley
So yesterday 03-20-10 I was coming back from the city with my friend (who is a girl) and we were sitting across from this freak. We were wrapped up in our conversation and I turned to glance who was sitting around us and I see this freak taking photos of us with his stupid phone. At first he was subtle about it… only slightly turning it to us. But give me a break it was pretty obvious when you are technologically savvy. I told my friend and she didn’t believe me. So I kept an eye on him and he would continue to angle his phone towards us…there was one point when he just did it so OBVIOUSLY! moving his phone completely towards us. I looked at him and gave him glares he then hesitated. So ladies don’t think he’s texting on the phone because he’s not. It’s all a front. It was about 11:30 at night taking the 7 to flushing. He gets off at the last stop. He’s a real creepy guy.
P.S. We switched cars and he didnt follow us so that may help some of you.
I was on the train home from NYC about 10 p.m. minding my own business as usual. I actually found a one person seat, which was great because it was late and I really just wanted to sit by myself. After just sitting looking out the window I happened to turn to look out the window across the aisle for whatever reason and this guy is staring at me, with this pathetic grin on his face and then he winked at me. Creeper. I gave him my usual look of disgust and then I was agitated because I don’t know how long he was glaring at me. Then I remembered this website and decided to take a picture of him, but he was already sleeping.
It made me feel better in the end.
Submitted by Danielle
I am a Bisexual Asian male who has experienced extreme harassment. My neighbor, the elderly man next door– Slandered, harassed and sexually harassed me for 2 years since I moved here from California. At first, when I got here, I was really thin and looked like a girl to most people. He told me he wanted to give me a sex change operation and rape me. For the next several months he slandered me, spread rumors I was a rapist, sex offender, child molester and people called me that in the neighborhood and on the train a few times. He was angry that I was a guy and not a girl and that I was making him gay. When I joined meetup.com and come home late at night, he would wait in front of my house every night ‘til I stop going. I saw him half naked filming me twice from his 3rd floor window a few months ago when I opened my blinds in the morning and I dare not to open my blinds in the morning anymore. People gossiped about seeing videos of me naked or me sleeping, etc in my bedroom on some pervert website. I overheard people talking in Chinatown and on the set of Fordham University during my filming of the “adjustment bureau” a Matt Damon movie where I worked as an extra.
Recently, He and his friends were yelling they want to castrate me, rape me. They called me a queer, fag and chink 2 weeks ago outside my house, heckling me.
I am a victim of racism and sexual harassment. I filed a harassment report by calling 911 on December 10, 2009 Thursday around 9:45PM when 2 female police officers drove to my house and alerted me to come outside to talk to them. The two female police officers is a female Black woman and a Spanish woman. I was told to call 718-627-6611 for Precinct 61 for the status of my complaint. I called again on December 15, 2009 and the officer who answered the phone said the complaint is closed and is on record and no arrests was made because my neighbor harassed me but didn’t assault me. I wrote to NBC news but to no avail. I don’t know who to turn to for help. I am a victim of sexual harassment and video voyeurism and slander and I think he is trying to get me killed because I look feminine and because of my sexual orientation. If this happened to a woman he work be arrested by now, but I am a guy, a bisexual guy and no one cares. I want the harassment to stop.
Submitted by Michael
This was taken at the Union Square 14th St station. My friend and I were waiting for the 4 train and were dressed up for Halloween. She was fighting with her boyfriend and also quite inebriated so she sat on the platform (ew, but what can you do?). I crouched next to her to comfort her. That’s when I noticed some a**hole on the opposite platform zooming in on my friend’s crotch and his flash go off. He actually walked to the edge of the platform and bent to get her crotch. I tried to alert her, but she was too drunk to move. I pulled my camera out, and he immediately hid behind a metal pillar. I snapped the shot as fast as I could and shouted some choice words at him. He hid behind that damn pillar until the next train came. I wish the photo was less blurry. I was shaking with anger. It had already been a bad night and though I’ve been harassed before, no one’s ever aimed a camera at me. It felt so violating that someone I don’t know has a picture of my friend’s crotch, and possibly me, is showing his stupid friends, and maybe posting it on the internet somewhere. He was a young guy, mid-twenties, with short black hair. He wasn’t wearing a costume, but a maroon track jacket and jeans. It was so frustrating to just stand on the other side of the platform while that perv looked at his camera. At least there’s Holla Back.
Submitted by Tara