This is just one of the many recent run-ins I’ve had with street harassers. I am a 27-year-old woman who has lived in New York for six years and I encounter these people just about every day. This one, was particularly scary, though, and stuck in my memory for many reasons.
I was just leaving my apartment building when a young man tapped me on the shoulder and made a sexual comment about my appearance. I was very put off by his comment and his physical contact so I told him to leave me alone and I went about my business picking up my dry cleaning. Like I said, I deal with street harassment almost every day so my tolerance and my patience for it has gotten very low over the years.
Minutes later, I was walking back and he was loitering outside of a housing project with some friends and they decided to start taunting me as I walked by. They made very lewd comments and I flipped out on him, called him a motherfucker and said he was raised by animals.
My harasser threatened to rape and to kill me. He also identified that he had seen me walking with my boyfriend in the vicinity before ( described him physically) and said he would kill him. I went to the police precinct and they were no help at all. The (make) officer told me that I was “very attractive” and that’s why get catcalled and threatened . He also told me not to “provoke” Street harassers acted like I was somehow at fault.
A few months ago I was followed and harassed by a man on the street. He verbally harassed me and did some very displeasing noises while he walked nearby. This went on for a few blocks and I kept telling him to stop, but he wouldn’t. The street was relatively lonely and I felt nervous and very angry. Some people on the street saw what was happening but did nothing; if anything, they looked away. When I finally got to a main road, I saw a policeman and decided to report what was happening. The policeman looked very confused and asked the man what was happening, to which he responded that he was just giving me a compliment. I told him that I had asked him to stop several times and that sexual harassment was a crime. The policeman kept doing nothing; he just asked for the man’s ID. I was feeling really angry and impotent, so I caught a bus to go home. When I looked outside the bus window, I saw the policeman letting my harasser go. I felt even worst than before, I was frustrated and a part of me felt that what I had done was wrong.
When I told my friends about wat happened they tried to be comprehensive but some of them made me feel like I had overreacted. They made me feel guilty and exaggerated.
A few days later I was walking on the same street (It was very near to my workplace), and I ran into the same man. He recognized me and started calling me names and saying “report me again bitch”. He insulted me from a distance and shouted really demeaning and hurtful things at me, such as “I will fuck you, whore”. I tried to defend myself but got really scared that he would hurt me physically, so I tried to walk away fast. Two men were going by while this happened and didn’t to anything, they just stood by and looked down, although this man was clearly threatening me. I told them that they could have done something to help me and they just ignored me. After this happened I felt really helpless, depressed, nervous, angry and scared. I cried all my way home, thinking that I should never have reported this man; If I had walked by and ignored him nothing would have happened. I knew, rationally, that I hadn´t done anything wrong, but I felt so guilty and foolish. For the next few days I felt terrified to walk to work and run into the man again. Still, sometimes when I walk through this area I try to make myself unnoticed and I feel really nervous. I know that I did the right thing, but I was silenced and now I look dow when I walk near there. And this makes me so angry. Public harassment is real, it happens almost daily, it is hurtful, and it needs to stop.
At around 8:30 am while waiting for the downtown J train at Bowery I was followed and watched by a man who began masturbating. He stood about 20 feet away from me on the same platform. He looked right into my eyes. Thankfully, my train arrived soon after. I called 311 but was on the line for 15 minutes with no response so I gave up. Unfortunately, I was too shocked and disgusted to give this sexist pig a big FUCK YOU. Thank you, you fucking jerkoff, for ruining my Saturday.
I was waiting at the bus stop on Fifth and Bellefonte, as I’ve done many times before, when I heard a person come out of the Victorian house whose fence borders the bus stop. The man was making weird noises, then walked closer to the fence. He was covering his face with a clothe held up by one hand while he was masturbating with the other hand. He asked me if I would stand there until he came. I said no, walked away, I called the police and they HAVEN’T DONE SHIT.
Noticed a guy masturbating on the train, started taking pictures of him, and when he noticed me and got up, I started yelling at him, “I see you!!! Masturbator!!” No one else on the train flinched, the guy got off the train and I tried to follow him but he jumped back on, I kept yelling at him and banging on the window to warn the other people in the car. I exited train platform and tried to file a report with a station agent, who panicked, and said there was nothing he could do. It takes him 3 uptown F trains before he calls it in. Then he switches shifts and explains to the new station agents the situation, cause I’m still standing there, and I’m not going anywhere til I file a report. The new agent is the first person to ask me if I am okay, which I reply YES but I need to report this. He tells me the police are coming and I can file with them. 30 minutes later there is no police. I ask the agent when they are coming, he says he has no way of knowing. I ask if I will still be able to file a report tomorrow, explaining that I’ve had friends who experienced this and were not allowed to file a report because it was “too late”. He assures me I can file a report any time I want. It’s a snowstorm, so I’m worried I won’t make it home if I don’t go now. I get back on the train with a crystal clear photo of the masturbator that nobody has looked at, unable to file a police report.
I was groped by a man on a bicycle two days in a row in Astoria. Considering I have lived here for 3 years and have felt very safe, this is really shocking and difficult to comprehend.
The first incident happened on the corner of 43rd Street and 30th Avenue around 3:30 while I was walking to the gym. A man on a bike was riding on the sidewalk towards me. He stopped directly behind me while I was waiting for the light and smacked my butt. I was so shocked that I did nothing as he sped away. No one else on the street seemed to noticed what had happened. I daydreamed all of the obscenities I could shout at this perv if I could go back in time, thinking that that this was a fluke and would never happen again.
Oh no, the very next day I was walking down 46th street around 6:30 pm and a guy on bike sneaked up behind me, whispered “nice ass” and grabbed me. He then sped away. I screamed “Asshole!” but really, does this affect a person like this? I got a better look at him and assume he’s probably the same guy.
I called the local precinct and the cop who I spoke to said that other women in Astoria have complained about this guy, near the locations I was at. He told me I could file a report if I wanted to. I went but a different cop said that it would be a waste of time. “These things happen,” he told me. Thanks buddy, that sure makes me feel safer.
I was coming home on the train to Astoria around 4am from Union Square. I had two or three drinks at a bar, so I was leaning on the window frame instead of sitting up strait. I believe this is when my attacker noticed me. I first noticed him when there were few people left in the train besides he and I. He was seemingly around 24 or 25, slim, wearing a long grey coat and a hat with a brim, slacks and loafers. He seemed like a young professional also returning home.
He was sitting down in the seat slumped against the wall of the train, as though he was sleeping, so that I couldn’t see his face because of the brim of his hat. I now realize that he didn’t want to show me his face because he had probably already picked me out for attack. When we got to the 35th street station, there were only he and I left in the train. I got out, and he got out onto the platform with me, behind me. It was December and there was snow on the ground.
I felt a little bit creepy with him behind me and tried to walk as fast as I could to the stairs to get to the turnstile and the clerk in the booth. All of a sudden, I heard his feet running behind me. I thought he would run right by me, that he was in a hurry. I was wrong.
He tried to tackle me to the ground from behind, encircling my arms and the top half of my body. I am deceptively heavy and strong, so he was unable to take me down. As soon as I felt this, I began screaming at the top of my lungs “Noooooo you don’t! Oh noooooo!”. I twisted about 4 or 5 times and broke his grip on my upper body.
I stood straight up and tried to see him, but he was out of my view. I had no time to do anything else because he jumped toward me and began punching me in the temples. I was struck about 5 times hard in each temple, as though he were a boxer and my head the bag- just that fast. I was stunned for a second in which he grabbed the collar of my jacket from behind and pulled me to the ground. I felt myself going down and shrieked the loudest scream of my life that went on for over a minute. I rolled on my back and kicked over the top of my head towards him, and he jumped away. I flipped my legs down and continued to scream and scream. Finally I was silent, just looking at him. I got my first glimpse of his face- he had the hood of his coat over the upper part of his face, but I could see the lower part of his face. He had huge lips, that was the only distinguishing feature I could make out.
When I went silent, he stood looking at me and then said in a quiet, wooden tone “shut up, bitch. shut up.” He then reached down and grabbed my purse which had fallen on the ground, and then trotted away with a gait that I swear looked like a jackal.
Luckily my house keys had fallen to the ground in the scuffle, so I still had them. I grabbed them off the ground and walked down the stairs to the booth with the subway clerk. I said “I just got attacked, didn’t you hear me scream?” The clerk didn’t say anything to me except “I call police” and then let me sit in a small room. I was shaking uncontrollably, and crying. My boyfriend at the time came to get me.
The police showed up and asked for the guy’s description. They drove me around the block once but didn’t see him and gave up trying. They were a joke. They then called the ambulance which came to pick me up, and I was charged $500 for this, to go 3 or 4 blocks to the hospital. I couldn’t pay the bill and it’s still on my credit rating now. I know I should have applied for it to be paid by the city but I couldn’t do that at the time because I went into a deep depression after this happened.
I was taken to the hospital and X rayed, and it was found that I was ok except for bruises on my temples. The guy had been trying to go for a knock-out blow, that much is clear. What would have happened if he had succeeded? I don’t want to think about that. I will always feel deep in my gut that this attack was sexual in nature, because if it was just a robbery or an assault, why knock me out? Why the push to get me on the ground? I think it was a rapist who wanted an unconscious victim.
I am an artist so I drew a picture of the lower portion of my attacker’s face that I saw. I brought it with me to the police station when I went in. They refused to accept it. They said it would draw all kinds of suspects who were not responsible- WTF??? There’s not too many men out there with lips, jaw and nose exactly that shape, and that particular color and that weight. It’s unbelievable that they wouldn’t accept my drawing.
They also classified what happened as a mugging, not an attempted rape. They said there was no evidence. I couldn’t believe what jerks they were. I looked for him in a book of suspects but didn’t see anyone I thought looked like him. I was never called back about this by anyone- but I was harassed for months about the bill for the ambulance, X-rays, etc. I never paid them.
I had anxiety for three years after this happened, but after a period of about 6 months of extreme good health and yoga every week I was able to alleviate that. It took a lot from my life but I reclaimed my life. But every once in a while when my head is tilted as it was when I was on the ground looking up at my attacker, I get a stab of anxiety. That head position will trigger it.
I have fantasies of seeing my attacker on the street and bashing his head in with a pole or bat, or zapping him with a stun gun and then kicking his head in. He definitely deserves it. What was he going to do if he knocked me out? Carry my body somewhere? Assault me and then roll me onto the tracks? This man deserves Hell, and I will surely give it to him if I ever find him.
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My neighborhood in Astoria is quiet, mostly. It’s safe, mostly. And for the most part its residents have never given me any kind of trouble.
One day I was walking home from my friend’s apartment along 31st street. It was summer so I was wearing cut-off jean shorts and a tank. I know that my outfit had nothing to do with it, but for a while I stopped wearing tank tops in public thinking this was the cause.
It was the middle of the day so the street was almost empty except for a largish (5+) group of young teens sitting outside an apartment building. Now, I try not to profile, but in my experience groups of teenage boys are trouble, and I am usually right. I put on my sunglasses and walked past them, avoiding eye contact.
Well, to my surprise I made it past them without any trouble when I heard that sound that will make the hairs on most women’s arms stand on end. The kissy noise. What happened next you could say was my fault, I should have kept walking, but I had had it. Here was a group of kids almost half my age with the nerve to make that awful sound at me. So I turned around and said, “are you f*cking serious? How old are you?” To which the larger of the group said “Old enough to f*ck you like a grown man”. At this point one of his friends says, “Girl I am gonna f*ck you with some chopsticks”. I’m half-Chinese, and was appalled that this brat had added racism onto the growing pile of sexual harassment. Various other insults followed, “skinny b*tch”, “dumb c*nt”, etc. I always wonder why, if I’m such a dumb etc., etc. why they tried to “holla at” me in the first place…
There were over five of them, and just one of me, so I decided to walk away. I called the police and told them a group of young men had verbally assaulted me and threatened me with sexual abuse. The officer offered his condolences but told me that since they had not physically assaulted me there was nothing he could do. While I agree that the police probably do not have the resources to investigate every instance of harassment, it made me feel alone, weak, and even slutty. I felt that because I was wearing a thin tank top I had somehow brought this onto myself.
When did it become okay for young boys to talk to older women this way? To threaten them in their own neighborhoods with this kind of sexualized, and sometimes racialized, violence? I was so disgusted, so horrified. And honestly to this day I have not walked down that street again.
Submitted by Jen
I work as a waitress in the lower east side one night a week. I was leaving work around 12:30 in a neighborhood that I have grown very comfortable in over the last year. I stayed with my coworker to shut the gate and we each walked toward our train stops (mine was the Grand Street B/D).
About 30 second away from the door I saw a man looking at me as I walked toward him. Not uncommon in the lower east side I continued as he adjusted his pants. When I was about 5 feet from him I realize he had he was jerking off as he stared at me. I decided to ignore him and walk past. He lunged at me , and I quickly veered passed him and around the corner, thinking he was just some crazy guy being nasty on the side of the road.
I walked about half way down the next block when I checked over my shoulder and realized he was following me. I picked up the pace, and saw a group of two women and two men ahead of me. I thought about stopping and saying something but I was nervous about slowing down so I sped passed them and took a quick right across traffic at Grand. From there it’s about three blocks to the B/D so I got at it quick.
I looked over my shoulder after I crossed Allen and didn’t see him so relaxed a bit, but looked again before I crossed the next street and he was a lot closer to me than I thought.
I picked up the pace but realized that he was jogging while I wasn’t looking or something because he was catching up to me really fast and there weren’t really any people on the street. The last block before the subway I didn’t see any people and he seemed to be getting close so I started to run. I looked back and he was running after me which made me really scared.
I got to the subway and went the MTA ticket guy and told him what had happened. He asked if the guy was in the station and I said no as I nervously looked toward the entrance. He said to just get on the train and that he would look out for me (even though I asked to talk to a police officer). I was grateful to be safe but felt weird about evading the situation and not letting the police know.
The next morning I worked again and was really surprised by the anxiety that I felt on the subway heading to work. I told my manager when I arrived and she urged me to call the police. I did. They came. I told them and even suggested some leads as to which businesses might have cameras outside that might lead to some kind of arrest. They not only ignored my leads but didn’t even ask me for a description of the guy. As I began to cry in front of them out of frustration they told me not to be scared. They assured me that they were working a double tonight and they would come by whenever I got out of work. THAT DOES NOT SOLVE THIS ISSUE!!
I told them no thanks if they were not going to follow up on the information that I gave them.
It seems that the community board that my job is involved with in combination with my work of mouth activism is the best defense we have in the lower east side. Please! Do not rely on the police for defense in this issue. They advised me next time to buy some pepper spray and/or ride the subway with a friend. Good luck servers of Manhattan. How many of you have a subway buddy? I certainly don’t.
I hope that all people who work on Broome will take the time to look out for themselves, and keep there phone in there pocket to get a picture of any asshole masterbating on the street so maybe the police will have some incentive to do their jobs.
Submitted by Rheanna