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It seems unreal but as a woman your day really does revolve around where can I go, what can I wear, can I run in these if I have too, look down don’t make eye contact, always be prepared to run, keep your head on the swivel. It feels like 70’s sometimes! I had gone away to college and in my few years there I’d been chased, followed, groped, sexually harassed and intimidated and I was at the end of my rope. I was young and didn’t understand so I began to blame myself. What am I doing, what am I wearing, how am presenting myself to make men think they can treat me this way? In your own mind you know you’re a person, a human being, you are your own but as a woman you’re constantly being told the contrary.
A few weeks ago a friend’s girlfriend was savagely knocked unconscious and raped on the side walk on her way home from class. That day my friend and I were biking to our school building when a guy screams out as us ‘Bitch I got something for you!’ and whips his penis out as us. We looked away and biked faster, the rapist that attacked my friend’s girlfriend was never found. When class ended I was headed home alone and I see this guy coming up to me, at first I look down trying not to catch his attention but still I hear him say ‘Ooohh shit..’ and he starts coming up to me making whispering noises. I remembered earlier that day and I remembered my friend’s girlfriend and I get angry and I’m tired of this. I’m tired of the constant fear and look up right in his face as he gets closer to me. ‘Look, I don’t deserve this! I’m just trying to get home like everybody else and I have a right to do that.’
He gets kind of startled like he was shocked I could actually speak, like you would if your shoe rack suddenly yelled at you for putting your shoes on it. ‘Don’t deserve what?’ he starts looking confused and cautious. ‘I don’t deserve this! This is sexual harassment, I don’t deserve you running up on me when I’m just trying to get home!’ He gets this weird look on his face at the word ‘sexual harassment’ and actually has the nerve to sound righteous, ‘How do you know I was hollering at you?’ I look around stunned. ‘We’re the only two people here! You have a mother, you might have a sister, would you really want someone running up on them when they’re all by themselves talking all threateningly to them like this?’ He throws the righteous game out the window when he’s called out and just goes straight to anger.
He sticks his chest out like he’s getting ready to hit me and gets even closer, I stand my ground and look straight back, I’m not running anymore if he beats me up he beats me up. ‘Bitch you wouldn’t get it if you weren’t advertising! You advertising!’ He might as well have hit me for how it felt. I didn’t really have a reply because I wasn’t advertising anything, whatever he actually meant by advertising but I had an idea. That’s when it all made sense, the surprise when I had the audacity to speak, the righteousness when I dared to spurn his threatening advances and the anger when I continued to assert myself. It had nothing to do with what I was wearing, what I was doing, how I looked, or me at all.
Because I wasn’t a person. I was a hole, an object, a shoe rack with no vocal chords, no face, no wants, no right to itself. I was a shoe rack and how dare I object to having shoes placed on me. Is that not why I was created? Is that not my singular purpose in life? The law doesn’t apply to shoe racks, what rights does a pile of wood and rubber have? There was nothing I could say to him, because where I was arguing about my right to be treated as an equal and he was arguing the legitimacy of my very humanity. I biked home as fast as I could and still heard him yelling after me ‘You adverting! You advertising!’ I got home, shut my self in my room, and sobbed for the rest of the day. I wasn’t a person, I wasn’t a survivor or a victim, I was just a woman and that’s practically nothing. I had thought maybe the sexually harassment stemmed from men not knowing women find it threatening and demeaning. Maybe if I stood my ground and let them know I hated it, maybe the surprise and shame would stop it. It never really occurred to me that they simply don’t care if we hate it because they don’t even think about it.
Another instance, a few years later I was walking down the crowded main street of down town San Diego in the afternoon. Four men are walking towards me on the side walk, I look down and side step but the biggest one follows me. I’m about to just run when he grabs me by the arm and pulls me into him. I yell ‘NO!’ and ‘STOP!’ and trying to get away but his friends just laugh and he starts grinding his groin into me in broad daylight in the middle of a busy sidewalk. People actually have to walk around us as I’m struggling. No one does anything, they just look down and keep walking and at last I’m able to shove my way out of his grip. He and his friends keep laughing and making kissing noises and cat calls. I start crying on the street on no one stops. It was witnessed by everybody, men, women, police, children. It just didn’t matter. Its the worst feeling in the world of something to seem so devastating to you but matter so incredibly little to everybody else. If it doesn’t matter to anyone then does it really even matter at all? It matters. It means everything! I want every woman and girl to know that we deserve better! We deserve the right to safety, life, happiness.
We deserve more than to live our lives on the perpetual Rape Clock! Its up to us to demand more and demand more for those that aren’t able to do it themselves yet. It’s not about hating men or villainizing men because the people we want better for are the daughters, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and wives of men. No father should constantly have to tell his daughter to be safe every time she leaves the house and worry until she comes back because this shouldn’t be a world where the contrary would cross his mind. As women we need to support each other because we all know what it was like to be beaten down and dehumanized and left to deal with the aftermath all alone. I also want to thank HollaBack for making it easier for us to reach out to each other and share out stories and our support.
I am a 20-something living and working abroad.I live in a small village and must travel to a neighboring city to shop for food. Every time I go to this city I am hollered at in multiple languages and men make kissy noises at me. I have been followed on numerous occasions and grabbed by strange men a few times. I am in public areas during the day where other people see this happen, and no one does anything. No one says a word when I am running down the street from a man who keeps grabbing me and “wants to just talk.” Locals laugh it off as “well of course, you are foreign and they want to get papers.”
The organization I work for tells me not to travel alone and to just ignore it. I hate feeling afraid and having no allies near me to help me in this situation. I hate that I cannot have any kind of relationship or even a simple conversation with a man without him thinking I want to have sex with him. I have a male friend who lives a few hours from me and has offered to come shopping with me to hopefully reduce the amount of harassment, but I do not want to have to have a man with me for other men to leave me alone. I just want to be able to get food and go places on my own and not be afraid.
I decided I wanted to go to a nearby mall to visit the bookstore, so I decided to walk to be healthy and save some money. On my way I first got stared at by a man in a large truck who even stared back at me once he passed me. After someone from their car called at me to get off my phone and pay attention to him, I called a friend to talk to on the way since I got a little scared. Finally someone whistled at me, and on top of this I saw the same bumblebee car four times in the short twenty minute walk. I became very scared and called a friend to meet me, and she gave me a ride home. I didn’t feel safe walking to the bookstore, and I don’t think that’s right at all.
I got on the Fraser bus to go home from school and as soon as I sat down there was this man sitting in front of me, late 30’s early 40’s maybe. Anyways, I could tell right away from the way he was looking at me that he was bad news (I’ve had to deal with lots of creeps before, but he was the worst), as he kept staring at me incessantly with a very strange glare in his eyes. As soon as I could, I moved seats on the bus but he kept following me. When I reached my stop, he got off as well, he even stood up right when I did. Then he started following me home, and I decided it was better not to lead him there, so I took a different route, all the while this creep is following only 3 feet behind me.
I turned into an alley and grabbed the only thing in my bag I could find to defend myself, then I confronted him and asked if he was following me. Then he started to say things like, “Please, don’t do this, I love you, please.” I have never met this man before in my life. I’ve taken self defense courses before and at this point I decided to get aggresive to scare him. I picked up some rocks, started screaming for him to get the f*** away from me but he wouldn’t so I picked up more rocks and he started to walk back slowly, but with this demented smile that made me feel really nervous. I then turned and ran when he was far enough away and ran into some more a**holes who pulled up next to me in a car and asked me if I wanted to party (I mean seriously, where do all these jerks come from), but I ignored them and kept walking. Luckily I ran into my brother shortly after, and he walked me home. Then I called the police to report the stalker but I don’t think they ever found out who he is. Since then I carry pepper spray everywhere I go.
Walking my dog at night while talking to a friend on the phone, I heard someone behind me getting closer. He kept saying “girl, girl slow down” and “common don’t be that way.”
I didn’t think he was talking to me because I am a post transition trans man with facial hair, and I was in deep conversation. My dog stopped to smell something and I saw the shadow of his hand reaching toward my ass. He was only a foot away. I turned around, looked him in the eye, and said loudly, “Hey!” He pulled his hand back, and I started walking away quickly trying to get to the well-lit 300 N.
I informed my friend on the phone of the situation, where I was, and gave a description of the dude…He continued following me shouting, “Hey it, hey he-she, I got something for your mouth.”
He followed me for 8 blocks turning where I turned and ducking behind bushes so I couldn’t see him then popping out and cat calling again. I kept my friend on the phone with location updates until I turned a sharp corner and hid in an apartment complex until he went by so I could get home.
I am so grateful for my friends at Hollaback! Baltimore who taught me things to do in these situations because this could have turned out much worse. I’m still shaken but I decided to post on here right away so others in Salt Lake City could be aware in this part of town at 11pm.
Dude description: white dude ,skinny , guessing 5’8 ish, patchy mustache and chin hair, buzzed head and a neck tat of words.
I have been followed from train car to train car on the NYC subway. When the train was in motion, he would sit there, stare at me, and openly masturbate. I eventually pretended like I was going to stay in my seat at a stop but jumped up and ran to another car at the last second. He tried to follow me but did to make it in time. He pounded on the train windows as we pulled away. I was terrified.
So yesterday me and my sister when on a bike ride to go check out a couple houses we had seen for rent. Once we got to the first house on our list we hopped off our bikes and looked around real quick. As we were about to hop back on our bikes, a car crept up to the side of us, and the people in it rolled down their windows. Inside were 5 men gawking at us… my first thought was to grab my pepper spray, but then I thought 5 big men…who knows if they have a gun or something more effective than my little can of pepper spray, and clearly my sister and I can’t take on 5 men. All we could do was try and keep walking and hope they would leave. Finally once we reached the end of the street, the guys realized they weren’t getting anything. They slowly turned and drove off. I was so scared thank God my sister was with me. I could only imagine how much worse I would have felt if I were alone.
Scared of walking to catch the bus and walking home!
I am a 21 year old independently going to work via public transportation. As I was walking back home from work, this guy in his twenties stopped his white van in the middle of an intersection. As I was listening to music, he was try to flirt with me and leering at me. I got pissed off and told him to go fuck off and he said why do you have to be so mean and left. I felt so scared and uncomfortable.. I told my mom and she said all guys are like that! That made feel worse!
It happened a second time!
I was waiting for the bus to go to work and I saw that same guy pass by. He decided to turn around. As he turned around and stopped at the other side of the bus, he tried to flirt with me again, so I stuck out my middle finger at him. He said why you do you have to be so mean and left. Again I got so uncomfortable and scared…I felt like he wanted to do something to me like rape me…I was now scared to go walking alone.
The third time, I was walking home after getting off the bus. That same guy showed up again, this time on a bike.. he was trying to flirt with me again, and I screamed FUCK OFF ASSHOLE I’M NOT ASKING FOR IT! He said why do you have to be so mean. I was so pissed off, scared, and uncomfortable. It seems like women like me don’t feel safe! No one will care if a woman gets raped… thanks to this, how will I ever feel safe walking alone?
At approximately 6pm, a car honked and pulled over while I was out for a walk in a “nice” tree-lined neighborhood. Now, I’ve already had the experience of a man stalking me in his car in this area (demanding that I drive him home, which I’ve since interpreted to be an attempted abduction), but I thought, well, maybe he’s lost or — well, basically anything other than what happened next. Here is the exchange in full:
HIM, sitting in his car: You wanna make some extra money?
HIM: You sure?
ME: [wtf] No. [turning to walk away]
ME: … [walking away]
HIM: You’re beautiful!
Fortunately he drove away, but he could have had any number of violent reactions to me turning him down, which is very scary. But guess what? My day of harassment was not over!
I was still outside, and had to get back…on the way, I was honked at twice. Also, a guy hanging out the window of his friend’s car shouted, “heyyyyy” at me as they drove by. I shouted back my crass thoughts, but who knows if he heard. It was particularly frustrating because after the “heyyyy” guy passed by, an older man walked by with his dog and gave me the usual nod of acknowledgment you give passers-by. ALL WAS NORMAL. Women pushing babies in strollers, men jogging. But all I can think about is how terrible my experience out in that same exact public space was…it seemed like everyone was having a lovely time except me, the Female Human in Public.
I’m in my early 20s and a student at a community college. It was late in the evening a month or so ago, and I was on campus walking to class and passed by a group of young men who were talking and joking around with each other. As I proceeded to walk one of them started to loudly make comments like “Hey, you. Can I get your number?” I knew he was talking to me, but I ignored him hoping that wasn’t the case.
I realized that the group was now walking behind me, and I didn’t know what to do. I had never been harassed in public before. I ignored them and kept walking, not indicating that I had heard them at all, but they continued to follow me saying, “Hey, I like girls with square backpacks.” That one almost made me laugh at how ridiculous it was before he said, “Hey, you in the green shirt, I’m talking to you.” I started to get really afraid that they’d try to follow me into the parking structure that I usually cut through and began to walk faster, taking an alternate route where there were more people. Eventually I stopped hearing them behind me. The whole time I could hear the guy laughing with his friends.
A couple of weeks afterwards I was waiting for the city bus and a guy looking to be in his fifties came up to me to ask me what time the bus usually came. I answered him and he walked away. He ended up getting on my bus, and sat a few seats away. As we got closer to campus, he switched seats to sit closer to me, and after asking if I was on my way to school, to which I replied yes, he out of nowhere turned and asked me, “Hey, do you want to go out with me?” I was startled, but I calmly and clearly replied, “No.” He then asked if I was over eighteen to which I replied, without thinking, yes. He continued to try to convince me, asking if I was sure because he had “a Starbucks gift card.” I again replied no. I didn’t feel threatened at the time, just because it seemed so random and he didn’t act upset or threatening; I just thought he was weird/creepy.
However, the next week as I was boarding the bus to go home, I heard someone say hi to me. I began to say hello before I realized it was the same guy. I immediately went to a seat far away from him, but as soon as I sat down he got up and took the seat behind me. It scared me that I couldn’t see him. I immediately took out my phone and dialed the first person I thought would answer. I was really freaked out and didn’t want him to try and talk to me. I talked on the phone about anything I could think of for the entire trip. After I got off, I kept looking behind me, afraid he’d follow me. When I told my sister she told me I should just take one of the metro buses instead, but I was reluctant because the city bus drops me off much closer to home, and I thought that surely he couldn’t be on the bus at all times of the day, as I had never seen him prior to this and I had been taking that bus for years.
Even so, I took the metro bus for a few days, before the weather turned especially warm and I decided to try the city bus one more time. The bus was unusually full, and I took a seat in the front where there were no available seats around me, I thought I was in the clear before the same creep came up beside me in the aisle and presented me with a flower asking me if I wanted it. I said no, and he asked again, I again said no. He left, and I got off early at one of the busier bus stops afraid he’d try to bother me off the bus. That was over a month ago and I haven’t taken that bus since.
Before these incidents I had heard about street harassment and recognized it as an issue, but I had never experienced it myself. I wasn’t prepared for how afraid and insecure it made me feel, I wish I would have said something at the time, but I don’t know if it would have mattered. I feel like it was so obvious both guys were bothering me, and in the second case it freaked me out even more that he didn’t seem to take my answer at face value. It made me afraid that he didn’t seem to have a clear sense of what the word “no” meant. I mean I repeatedly rejected him with my words and body language. Why should I have to bluntly and loudly confront him? Ugh, it happened weeks ago and I’m still thinking I should have told him off.