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In August of 2011, my city held a “clean commuting challenge” to encourage people to walk, bike, carpool, etc. to work. Having recently moved from a city where walking was very much a part of my lifestyle, I was excited for the opportunity to get into the habit again — exercise, fresh air, saving my gas money. So all week long, I walked the one mile each way to and from work. And I felt great.
But on Friday, everything changed.
I was about a third of the way home when I crossed the railroad tracks, and a young man came out of the barbershop nearby. He watched me pass, whistled, and said something derogatory. I ignored him and kept walking, as I always did in such instances. But this time was different. This time, he followed me, and continued to “talk” to me, with increasingly angry comments. “Too good for me huh,” “White girl with her nose in the air,” and some other, more personal things too profane to repeat here.
I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do. I had no mace, no self-defense training. Didn’t know anybody in the area yet. Cars zoomed by on Grand River Avenue, but nobody was paying any attention. I felt completely powerless.
Finally, he stopped talking. But he kept following me. I tried walking faster. He sped up, too. I tried slowing down to let him pass me. He slowed down, too. Finally I turned down my street, thinking he wouldn’t dare turn and follow me, not with an elementary school right there on the corner. But the schoolyard was empty, and no one was around on my street. And he kept following me.
A few doors down from my house, I walked up the driveway of a neighbor’s house and hid behind it, imagining that he would think this was my house and his little game would end there. I waited, watching the time. Five minutes passed. I peeked out from the side of the house — and there he was, standing on the sidewalk, arms folded. Watching me. Waiting.
I finally called 911 and when the police came, he tried to run away. They caught him and took him in, but had to let him go the next day. I was told I couldn’t press charges because he hadn’t actually done anything to me.
But he did do something to me.
I never walked to work again. I never felt safe in my neighborhood again, or even in my own house — as close as I was to the street, I kept imagining he, or someone like him, might be waiting outside for me.
Eventually, I moved to a different neighborhood. But I still don’t walk anywhere by myself. And I feel angry about it. A man can walk around practically anywhere he wants and have no fear. But a woman has to be told, has to feel, it’s not safe.
It’s not fair.
This actually happened to me multiple times, at the same mall: I go there with two of my cousins and my sister, and I don’t think there was ever a time when we were NOT followed. Once we were followed into a cafe and the stalkers just lurked outside — we had to wait an extra half hour for them to get bored and walk away. Another time we were literally being chased — we had to go into a big supermarket and weave through a bunch of aisles and go to a different floor ’till we finally lost the stalkers. Another time a bunch of guys caught up with us on an escalator and one of them tried to shove a slip of paper into my cousin’s hand! At one point we had to get the security involved, but all they did was tell the stalkers to stop following us, which was ineffective. I wish I could go to that mall without being harassed, for once. The thing is, it’s the only good one (in terms of shops, restaurants, etc) in the city.
Since Fall of 2007, a man whom I had briefly known in Arlington Virginia (in 1997) is harassing me every day of my life. He is a former employee from a Federal Agency, he was in their Intelligence division. I relocated to Brevard County, Florida in 2004. This man followed me here in 2007.
He sends hundreds of defamatory and threatening messages daily via vehicle tags and on car windows of passing vehicles on the highway; on peoples clothing and accessories when they come to the store where I work. In majority of the messages he addresses me as a “Whore,” and tells me “whore, give me fuck,” and the like. Because his past work experience in the Intelligence community, he tracks every movements of my life. At night he and/or his group members break into my security system and burn/cut my body to threat me to stop to pursue the man I truly love.
The culprit threatens me and the man I love and kept us from seeing each other. I reported the culprit to various levels of law enforcement, the heads of his former agency, some Senators and the past and present Presidents of the United States.
Please advise how to stop this man’s harrassment. Thanks
I was walking home quickly after having had my space on the sidewalk blocked and something mumbled at me about my legs. This was two blocks from home. Feeling insecure, and wanting some community, I was on my phone, walking as fast as I could, trying to log the harassment in to this site, when I looked up.
Right in front of me, almost totally obscured by a tree was a man. I met his eyes directly by looking up from my phone at that moment, just by chance. He said something about getting with me, but I couldn’t even hear him. All I could think about was that he’d had to step out off the sidewalk to get behind that tree. That he’d clearly been watching me and waiting for the moment when I came level with him, and I’m certain he wasn’t planning to jump out and shout “Boo”. And also, because I was by now literally around the corner from my house, this man is my neighbour. It felt like my blood had been replaced by ice, and the world was on a frozen mute till I made it through my door.
A year or so ago my friend and I were walking to her house late at night (we were both fifteen then, btw), when a car slows down behind us and begins to slowly follow us at the same pace we were walking, a couple of yards back. The guy looked pretty normal, in his early fifties/late forties maybe. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, we stopped walking for a second to see if he’d drive by us. Instead, he stops his car and just sits there staring, so we immediately started walking again, but much faster, and he started driving behind us again. He was the only car on the road given the time at night, and we were walking on this street that runs over a highway, so we couldn’t turn or run to any houses until we got off the bridge, and to make everything even worse, the battery of her cell phone was dead. We didn’t want to start running because then he’d just follow us in the car, and there’s no way we’d outrun a car, though we both agreed if he got out we’d book it and start screaming. There was still some space in between the car and us and we were both walking so fast we were practically running anyways. I have my knife out, open, with the sleeve of my sweater sort of covering it just in case. We got off the bridge, and he kept following us. He didn’t say anything to us, but every time we looked back (which was like every two seconds) he was staring right at us. Finally, after about ten or so minutes of walk-running, my friend put her phone to her ear and really loudly pretended to be calling the police, telling the battery-dead phone where we were, and that there was a car following us, and then when she started reading off the license plate, he sped off. The second he got out of sight we ran the rest of the way to her house. We didn’t call the police (her parents didn’t know we’d been out, and we had to sneak back in). I don’t even want to think about what might have happened had it just been one of us, or if he pulled a gun. The whole thing still pisses me off- it wasn’t like he was harassing us verbally, he was just following us, two teenage girls, in the middle of the night, in his car. I kind of wish we had called the police, because that guy was obviously planning something or just some sicko creep who gets his kicks scaring the shit out of teenage girls.
I come from NYC where cat calls are bad, my comfort was there are people everywhere. Now I’m in Pittsburgh and I feel so vulnerable I don’t like to even leave my apt. I am always nervous walking, at bus stations, and on the bus.
I was walking to campus from Walgreens when some guy with his hands shoved in his sweatpants pockets started following me. He followed me almost to the park, at which point I was basically running, yelling about how big his dick was and how much I’d like it. When he stopped following, he started calling me a bitch and an assortment of other great names. I’m just glad he didn’t follow me any further.
BY CATHERINE FAVORITE
This year Target is selling one Valentine’s Day card that draws only the sound of crickets and tumbleweeds rather than laughter. The front of the card reads:
“Stalker is a harsh word” and the inside says: “I prefer Valentine”.
Considering that 54 percent of female murder victims reported being stalked, this is one crime that should never be equated with love. Regardless of your feelings about Valentine’s Day, it should go without saying that there is never a good time to make light of stalking, especially not on a day that is supposed to be about letting the people in your life know you care about them. Apparently, Target has not gotten the memo, yet.
By making light of what is a serious, terrifying and potentially violent crime for 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men in the United States, Target is normalizing the message that stalking is acceptable behavior. Even worse, they are diminishing the concerns of victims of stalking and contributing to the dangerous attitude that one should not report it to the police. So Hollabackers, let’s call Target out on their insensitivity! By signing this Care2 petition, you will help send a message to Target that jokes about stalking are not edgy or humorous.
BY NANCY A. DAVIS
It was just another typical Tuesday. I was in the Port Authority Bus Terminal waiting for the A train. All I wanted to do was get downtown. I waited by a pillar, minding my own business. I felt someone staring at me, but brushed it off as paranoia. I looked around and saw him – he was checking me out all right. He gave me one of those head-to-toe looks, that just makes me cringe. I slid back behind the pillar, hoping the A train would arrive soon.
I hopped on the train, and found a spot to plant my feet. I took a deep breath and thought He’s gone. I then felt a pair of eyes upon me again. It was him, and he was still staring and making obscene gestures. I moved to another part of the car to stand when some other passengers exited the train. He moved with me. I turned around, not looking him in the face. I could hear his heavy breathing behind me. My skin was crawling from being stared at like that.
I then moved to another car and he followed me there too. Now I was really freaked. I am a small woman. No way would I be able to fight this person off if he acted up. The sad part is, no one even noticed or said anything about him staring straight at me or about him following me to the next car. No one.
We should not have to be subjected to this. This is why I donated. Some people think it is acceptable to speak to anyone in a suggestive manner, or that staring for a long time is acceptable. It is not okay. We need help. We need you. Please donate to Hollaback! and let women not just here in the United States, but Worldwide know – that you have their back.
I’m a fairly traditional southern woman, raised and homeschooled by extremely conservative parents, and sheltered from the world. Or at least I was. I started college at Tarleton State in the fall of ’09, and a lot of things change. I’ve learned a lot about harassment, first hand, that I hope none of my friends never have to learn. I could write about getting groped on my way to a club/bar, or screamed at by some idiot in a truck on my way home, or even a more violent incident that happened later that year, but I won’t. Instead I give you this little jewel, the incident that truly showed me how comfortable these ‘normal’ men were with their behavior, and just how acceptable it really was. I was attending a womens volleyball game with some friends, supporting our school in the regionals I think. Some guys behind us started harassing the opposing team and screaming some very vulgar things at them. A male friend took offense to that behavior, and warned them to quiet down. When they started being rude to him, I piped up. I don’t remember what I said but it must have made an impression. They were quieter for the rest of the match, and we watched in peace. Afterwards, I refused a ride home and decided to walk, because my dorm was less than half a mile away and the night was beautiful. I didn’t even think twice about my decision. I tried to call my boyfriend of the time who lived out of town, to enjoy a walk and talk under the stars. Just as I heard the busy tone, I began to hear yelling. It was three of the drunk men from before, trying to get my attention. I tried to ignore them, they were being just as vulgar as before. I was terrified. They were large men, and at 5’2″, i’m rather not. They continued to follow me as I asked them to leave me alone, and fought off tears. I could smell the alcohol from 5 feet away. I finally snapped when they asked my name again, and told them “It’s get the fuck away from me”. They just laughed and asked if it was “mexican”. They followed me to the door before losing interest. There were half a dozen other people in the parking lot when they started harassing me. Talk about turning a blind eye.
If you want a world where no one EVER turns a blind eye to verbal or physical violence, donate to the “I’ve got your back” campaign. We’ve trying to raise another $15,000 in the next 8 days and we need your help.