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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
Being a redhead and, what has delicately been put to me as, ‘rather unfortunate looking’, I’m no stranger to being shouted at on the streets. Having said that, my encounter with this guy was in an entirely different league.
It was 3 in the afternoon on a nice autumn day. There were families about with young children and I was out for a walk in my local park. Stupidly thinking it was a safe day to do so, I turned off the major paths and onto one of the small paths in the trees. After a few feet it became obvious that the dodgy looking guy standing near the path intersection had followed me in.
Trying not to jump to conclusions, I first turned onto another path to establish whether he was actually following me. He was. Having established that, I was more than a little pissed off (and somewhat scared), so I fisted my keys in case he gave me any trouble and then turned around to let him go past – just in case he wasn’t following me and it had all been a horrible mix up. I stopped and turned. He stopped. I gestured for him to go past. He didn’t, so I made to cut through back to the main path again. He came up to me and asked
“Are you working?”
Utterly confused by this question, I asked “Here in the graveyard?”
“Uh no, I’m not a warden or anything. Do you need to find one?”
We were clearly talking at cross purposes here, so the guy says,
“No, I mean do you want some of this?”
And gets his dick out to illustrate his point. Flabbergasted is how I must have looked because he added, “I’ll pay you!”
Fighting the urge to laugh/throw up/kick him in the nuts, I told him, “No thank you, I’m really not that kind of person.”
(Being too polite is one of my downfalls.) And then left speedily.
Although the incident was actually pretty funny, afterwards I felt really odd. I hesitate to use the term ‘violated’ because it was so mild an encounter. More like uncomfortable, and actually quite angry for reasons I couldn’t explain to my friends or my boyfriend. I do realise I got lucky in this case, it could have been much worse. And I’ve stopped walking by myself in that area, as angry as that makes me. I hate that I cannot walk where I want in this city even on a brightly lit afternoon.
Oh I do wish I’d kicked him in the nuts.
Submitted by Fiona
A lady friend and I were walking home late at night from the F train. We were along Avenue U which is usually lively in the day but we were walking down a desolate street where a man stood alone in the cold. There was only a 24 hr deli across the big avenue. We started to cross to the other side of the street and I looked back and saw he was still eying us. A second later I look ahead again and my friend shouts “Run run! Run into the deli!”, because she saw him turn and dart toward us like he was GOING to attack us. It was one of the realist moments of my life. Luckily, when we reached the deli the store owner did his best to stall the man as one of his employees walked us a few blocks down, but in the back the man was shouting and walking in our general direction. Once at the corner, we ran to the house safely.
Submitted by Jen
I was just trying to throw out my trash. it was a bit late around 9pm. we live on a main street and there are always people going by. While walking to the trash I hear someone call “hey, hey girl.” I turn around and this guy on a bike is riding up my driveway. I know I looked terrified and begun to start walking towards the door. He keeps coming at me saying ” let me talk to you come here.” I’m like “nah” and get up on the porch thats when my boyfriend come outside. The dude looks shocked and finally starts to back up to the street again. my boyfriend shouts” hey homie WTF do you want.” the guy just says ” just trying to sell some tools.” and heads off. Cant even be on your own property these days
Submitted by Monique
Have you ever wished there was some sort of garbage disposal hotline to call when confronted with ugly street harassers? We’ll put that on our holiday wish list. Something else on our holiday wish list?? Some green from YOU, about $5 worth.
In a follow up to her “New Phone Apps Aim to Combat Harassment” article published in the NYT on Monday, reporter and now HollaHERO Karen Zraick publishes her own personal hollaback in today’s City Room blog.
As if we couldn’t have guessed, within hours, there are 47 comments all containing one, two, three, and sometimes more, horrifying stories of women’s own personal experiences with street harassment. And it isn’t over yet. NOW THAT IS ONE HELLUVA HOLLABACK!
“It’s infuriating to see this described as a ‘quality of life issue’, writes one woman. “This isn’t a ‘quality of life’ issue, okay? It’s not my neighbors having a loud party, or a dog barking next door!”
At Hollaback, we couldn’t have said it better.
Now this is one holla the city will NOT be able to ignore. Read Karen’s story and the accompanying comments here.
If I had a dollar for every NYT reporter who has come forward with her own hollaback…well, I wouldn’t have very much money. But if I had $5 from every woman who read this story, including you, now I might have something to talk about…raise us $5?
In NYC it seems like I can’t step outside of my house without being verbally attacked, but the scariest attack happened to me when I was going to the Jacobi hospital on a Saturday. It was around 10. I came out from the hospital and I’m walking through the back of the hospital building trying to get to the bus stop. All of a sudden I feel a something following me when I look to my side there’s a van right next to me, the guy has his window down and he started screaming “Honey, I was checking you out your so fine come over here mamacita”. I was terrified shitless all I could do was grab my phone and call my mom. He probably thought I was gonna call the cops, but what were the cops gonna do? When the guy saw me take that action he just left really quickly. Through all of this all I could think was “OMG I could have been kidnapped”.
Submitted by Shani
A little donation goes a long away—we developed the new iPhone app using $5 and $10 donations from friends and lovers. What can we develop next? A LOT—new international Hollaback sites, to be exact! Wanna help?
One July morning, while on the L train from Brooklyn to work at 1st Ave and 14th I was a victim of what can only be deemed digital voyeurism. I noticed the man sitting opposite me on the train was staring intently at his Blackberry, probably watching a music video or something of the sort. What was strange was that he held it upright, in line with his eyes and not in his lap like most folks usually do. When I moved, he moved and at times he would glance at me. The lady next to him was looking at me too, as were the other two ladies standing next to him. My self-conscious self wondered if I had spilled my breakfast on my shirt, so I looked down, started rearranging my skirt and noticed that the culprit seemed mildly perturbed by this. I was convinced that he was videotaping me on his phone. I glared at him, but he kept on videotaping. I kept my head down, the way celebrities do when they’re avoiding paparazzi. I moved to another side of the car. When I got off at my stop, the two ladies who were next to him, stopped me and asked me if I knew he was taping me. I asked why they hadn’t alerted me earlier and chose to be complicit viewers of this injustice. I was outraged and felt completely defiled. I wish there was a way to report this. The sad thing is that two weeks later, the same thing happened again, on the L train. This time I was quick to act. The culprit was pissed when I changed seats and got off at the next stop.
Submitted by J
You’re a fighter—or you wouldn’t be here. Help us fight the war on street harassment, at the frontlines. We’re using brains, not brawn. Send us weapons. The green kind.
It’s a shame that in this day and age, taking the bus can be a bit of a scary experience. I was on my way from work and had to wait for a while at a connecting stop. A man who I noticed was on the bus earlier had walked over to my stop and sat at the bench with me. He kept his distance but I just tend to stare face forward with my mp3 player on and my phone in my pocket. Eventually he says hello. I say hello back but continue to look forward. Minutes pass and he tells me his name. Noticing he’s waiting for a response I just tell him my name is ‘Marie’. It’s not real, it was just the first random name that came to mind. It got even more uncomfortable when he would periodically ask where’s the computer lab, do I go to school here, and so on. It got worse when another bus showed up but he decided to wait for MY bus to get here. He said, “I WAS going to get on this bus, but do you mind if I get on the same bus as you?” I didn’t answer so he took it upon himself to do so. I should have just walked into one of the university buildings ages ago, but I just wanted to go home. Eventually my bus gets here and I sit near the front so I could be by the driver and he sits towards the back. He later comes to a seat just behind me and asks if I had a place for him to stay during the night and gave him a firmly toned NO. He went back to his seat but it didn’t stop me from getting off my stop and looking around to make sure he didn’t follow me. The walk home was so scary because the apartment complex I’m at seems to have no interest in getting the street lamps fixed and the entire walk was me rushed in a zig zag pattern with my hand on the number 9 on my phone. Later when my boyfriend came back, we went out to get some pepper spray and so far, I will wait for him to give me a ride, even if I have to wait for hours.
Reading the rest of these entries makes me feel more empowered, but there needs to be more! I want to do my part for this website and tell my friends about it. I also think it would be a wonderful idea to have this for all universities and public transportation systems. Thanks.
Submitted by Menia
While walking to my car this morning a man who was driving slowed down his vehicle just to make “smooching” sounds to me. I gave him a disgusted look and got in my car. I sat in my car for a moment, and then realized that the man had driven back around and was sitting in his car, stopping traffic to stare at me. I was very scared because I was trapped between two cars, and him, and had no way of driving away. He eventually left, but it was not the best way to start my day.
Submitted by Desiree
This is a constant occurrence on the A train at the Rockaway Boulevard Train Station in Ozone Park Queens (At least for me). I enter the station and head for the Manhattan-bound A train side of the platform. My entrance is the one at the front of the train and I usually walk to the middle area of the platform and wait for the train. This morning, reminiscent of many others, there was a man already waiting for the train on the platform close to the top of the stairs.
I passed him on my way to my waiting area. When I got to where I usually wait, he was right behind me, casually reading his paper. I felt awkward and walked down to the area about ¾ of the way to the end of the platform. When I turned around to check, the man had followed me down and was half a car-length away from me. The train started pulling into the station, so I walked down the platform some more to make sure there was a car and half between me and him.
I got on thinking he would be in the other car that pulled up right in front of him, but then saw him getting into the same car, one door away from me. So I sat in the seat facing the back of the train, with my back toward the door he was standing at. Two stops later, he moves to the door that my seat is facing and is casually reading the paper and stealing glances at me.
At this point, I’m disgusted because he’s not the first guy that’s followed me down the platform, but was definitely the first to follow me all the way down, into the car I was in, and into my face. That’s when I took the first picture of the creep. He spent the whole ride (from Rockaway Boulevard to Fulton Street) creeping me out with his looks. I was sure he was waiting for me to get up and follow me off the train. He stopped reading his newspaper after Jay Street and was just staring at me the rest of the way.
I was pretending to doze off as I waited for the train to let a bit more of the crowd off at Fulton Street. At Fulton Street, I had had it with the creep staring me down. He had no intention to get off while the crowd was unloading so I pulled out my camera and snapped a picture of him with the flash on. The crowd around me looked confused but didn’t question my extremely disgruntled face as I took the picture of him. The shot shows the guilt on his face and surprise that I would actually take his picture. He disappeared into the crowd (or ran off right before the doors closed) right after my picture.
If there’s anything that gets me upset, it’s disrespectful creeps on the train. Don’t follow me, ESPECIALLY at 8:30AM when I’m half asleep. Had I been awake, I would have caused a stir on the train. Though I think my quiet decision to shame him with a flash photo in front of a crowd worked too. He wasn’t there to follow me off the train. I don’t appreciate creeps pretending to casually stand around after they follow me.
Even if this post doesn’t cause the creep to get arrested, at least I feel better that I made him nervous by taking his picture. It would be really nice to not be followed by douchebags.
Submitted by Maria