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I’ve been a fan of Hollaback for about a year now, and I finally decided to share a story. There are so many experiences of harassers getting away with their words and/or actions, and leaving the victim feeling powerless and trapped. However, I am happy to say that this is a success story!
I work in an industrial neighborhood in the East Bay, California. Every morning, I take a walk in about a one-mile radius from my workplace. There is a tow-truck company whose trucks frequent the area quite often, as their headquarters are nearby.
Beginning around October of last year, there was one particular driver for the company who, everytime he saw me walking, would blare his horn. A shrill, jarring, airhorn-like sound. Truck horns are designed to startle someone in an urgent situation, and naturally when this first started occurring, I would immediately look towards the sound to see what was happening. When I looked, the driver would have this grin across his face that felt so… Invasive. Sometimes he would wave, as well. My standard reaction was to flip him off, but that wasn’t satisfying the need to make him feel the way that he made me feel. Cornered, on display. I should throw in that this would always happen when he was driving by (in motion), and never when he was stopped. Big surprise, I know.
A few months later, another driver for the company started honking, grinning, waving, etc. as he passed. This happened several times. Everytime an instance occurred with this company, it was one of those two drivers. They were always in separate vehicles, never together at the same time.
So, I began to recognize my options. I thought about notifying the police, but I then realized that harassment in the workplace is taken much more seriously, internally speaking. If a company discovers that one of their employees is harassing others inside or outside of the workplace, there are often serious repercussions. I decided to call the company.
I immediately- but non-confrontationally- asked to speak to a manager. I told the receptionist that I had been experiencing harassment from two of their employees for approximately four months, and that I was fairly confident the company was unaware that this was happening. The woman I spoke to seemed to understand the urgency, and transferred me to the manager’s phone line. He was not in the office, but I did seize the opportunity to leave an in-depth message. I addressed everything that had happened with the honking and smiling, and let him know how these actions affected my feelings and sense of safety. I noted the times that these instances occurred, and the drivers’ appearances.
I never did receive a phone call back from the company, but I am ecstatic to say that not one single harassment incident, from either driver, has occurred since. I still see the same drivers when I go for a walk, and they will look, but will not say or do a thing. In fact, the majority of the time, they can’t even look me in the eye anymore.
People need to know that they CAN make a difference. They DO have the power to change things. They need not be afraid to use their voice and take action. The harassers do not have any more power than those who are harassed, and this story proves that those who choose to victimize others will endure justified consequences, if we speak up!
I go to The University of Texas in Austin and it’s hella expensive to park your car on campus. Usually I just park my car across 35 and take the shuttle back to campus, but I had just gotten back to town and it was a Sunday, so the shuttle wasn’t running a full schedule. Because the next bus wouldn’t arrive for another 45 minutes (and because it was early March and 30 degrees outside), I decided to walk back to campus rather than wait.
I was walking down MLK, having almost made it back to my dorm without incident, when a silver PT cruiser sped past me. Some guy stuck his head out the window and yelled “SLUT,” started laughing, and pulled his head back into the car.
They turned onto the same street as my dorm and I tried to chase after them, but they were gone by the time I turned the corner.
He appears at my work every single day.
Criticizing the women I work with, including me, he reaches a topic that is a personal and gender-based insecurity to every woman, sex. The way women look and dress is always a sexual concern in the publicity of men, which he makes apparent.
Questioning the way my co-workers and I present ourselves, he makes comments like, “So when are you going to make a sex tape?” “You look tense, you should purchase a vibrator”, and, “When am I going to see you as the center-fold for Playboy?” These questions do not contribute to women as an individual, but as sexual fixations, enabling us to believe that being a sexual object for men is the purpose of women’s existence.
He does not pass up the opportunity to lower one’s mental health; he attacks even men as well. Commenting on a man’s hopes and aspirations, he belies, “You’re a beatnik and will never amount to anything.” For men, not “amounting to anything” results in a gender-based insecurity of failure. Men value their work ethic and aspirations as a reflection of their selves, because essentially men are taught that they will be relied on later in life. If someone doubts their accomplishments or determination, they take it as a personal threat of their inability to provide for others in life.
He doesn’t need to know someone as a person, only how to make generalized comments towards their gender. The University of Oregon recognizes this behavior as gender harassment, defining it as, “Generalized sexist statements and behavior that covey insulting or degrading attitudes about women [or men]” (University Counseling & Testing Center, 2010).
Making note of his appearance and the way he confidently fabricates his life as successful, this explains why he must mentally flagellate those around him. He struggles with his own heightened insecurities and belittling others creates the illusion that he feels superior; by recognizing that others have insecurities of their own. He heightens his perception of his own self-worth when verbalizing false statements to those around him.
The use of harassment in the workplace causes my co-workers and me to develop effects of drop in work performance due to stress, decrease in job satisfaction, depression, self-consciousness, frustration, and unfavorable work conditions. The comments that he makes cause psychological damage and sustain us from not performing our best while at work.
A lot of victims hide in terror and denial from their harassers, unable to tell anyone or change the outcome. Victims may feel powerless; an imbalance of power between the harasser and the victim is just a disconnected form of reality. When in actuality, the harasser holds no more power over the victim. In this case, he has no greater power over me or my co-workers.
Walking to my Y when a man at a bus stop on 16th and 50th NE started screaming at me and calling me a dyke, telling me to suck his dick, and that I deserved to be raped. Because I walked past him. I kept walking and called the cops, but he was gone when they arrived.
I have experienced everything from whistling to someone aggressively forcing a conversation on me while I was walking somewhere.
The worst had to be the time I was walking to the grocery store. I was in work out gear and had head phones in when a car horn blares scaring the living daylights out of me. I look up and see some young guy hanging his head out of his friends car. We make eye contact for a split second and then he spit at me before the car drove off.
I was so caught off guard by the whole interaction. The only thing I could do was laugh, but nothing about the experience was funny. No one deserves to be degraded and made to feel scared.
I was coming home from a lovely evening with a friend last night, riding my bike west-ward on Ontario towards the deMaisonneuve bike-path and I was waiting at the red light right in front of Katacombes. So i’m sitting on my bike, and this entitled DICK-BRAIN LOSER casually walks by me and gropes my ass, completely unceremoniously without saying anything, so I shove him off, and start swearing at him profusely… So this complete and utter piece of shit of a human being backs off a bit, then grins at me, then comes back forward and FLICKS MY BOOB and stumbles backwards again, still smiling, while i’m literally imploding with wrath.
I really wanted to get off my bike and do something, punch him, kick him, spit at him, scare him and get that fucking smile off his face but decided that I didn’t want to leave my bike unattended / put myself at risk / bother with such a pathethetic dipshit no-life stinky butt slug… ARGGGHHH TIMES INFINITY!!!!!
We’re all taught that we should at least feel safe at home. If we buy a home or rent a house, that property should be our haven, a place to live and relax.
Yesterday, I was taking advantage of that. As I was transferring seedlings into pots, a guy who was new to the neighborhood passed by, and we exchanged hellos.
Later, while I was reading in the sunshine, the same guy came around again, struck up a conversation. He was very polite, up until the point he grabbed my rear end.
I stepped back, said, “NOPE. OFF.” and pointed towards the sidewalk.
I think that reaction startled him, because he initially stepped back in a hurry. Apologizing profusely, he shuffled off, looking back at me as if he wanted to try continuing the conversation.
My glare told him just how likely that was going to be.
It’s not the first time something like this has happened to me, and it’s not the worst thing, either. However, it still left me feeling violated, angry and helpless.
After about an hour of stewing, I called the non-emergency phone number for the police. He wasn’t in sight anymore, and I only felt threatened by the uncertainty of “What if he comes back? What if he decides to try something else?”
I gave his description, told the operator what had happened and where the guy had told me he lives. Because I wanted to file a formal complaint, they sent a pair of officers over.
Since it wasn’t an emergency, it took a few hours for the cops to get here. That’s fine. Far worse things happen every day in this city. The two who showed up were a pair of young men.
Most police have a reputation of not taking sexual crimes seriously, and since this one was comparatively minor, I didn’t expect anything more than I got.
After I told my story, the one officer said with a laugh, “And you expect this guy to become a serial grabber?”
Straight faced, I replied, “No, but you know as well as I do that this type of behavior can escalate.”
At another point, he told me that other guys would have stayed and argued. To that, I let him know that, yes. I know that, too. It’s happened to me before, but I never made a report, because I didn’t think anything would happen.
His last try at minimizing the situation was, “Well, at least he knew what he was doing was wrong.”
If anything, that’s worse. If he knew it was wrong, why did he feel confident enough to do it? As a human being, didn’t that seem like a bad thing to him? How would he feel if it happened to a woman he cared about? How would he feel if it happened to him?
When they finally decided to take me seriously, they asked if I wanted a restraining order, which really, is all they could offer at this point.
I declined, since that was the first, and hopefully last, time I’ve ever interacted with that particular guy. If he does try giving me trouble, I will get one and I will keep a record of what he does. They told me that the fact they showed up would help my case if I have to take further action.
I felt a little foolish calling the cops on such a minor event, at first. The worst that’s happening on a personal level is a little more paranoia and anger on my part. I wasn’t physically hurt, and I haven’t seen the guy again since then.
The more I think about it, though, the better I feel about getting this on file. Harassment, whether that entails groping or anything else, is part of why things like rape and other forms of assault are so under reported.
Our culture has normalized that behavior to the point where victims are just expected to stand helplessly by.
I, personally, am sick of it. No, I’m not going to call the authorities every time some jerk whistles at me from the street or flirts lewdly with me in passing. If I did, I’d be on the phone almost every time I left the house.
What I am going to do is share my stories with anyone who wants to listen. When someone tries to get physical with me against my will again, I will make another report, and do whatever’s needed to get out of that situation.
Sadly, I say “when,” because there’s no “if” about it.
Moral of the story?
Don’t be afraid to say no, and if you can, report the incident to the authorities. Even if nothing happens in the long term, there will be a written record of the event and it will add up. Hopefully, that will amount to some change for the better.
When i was 17 i took driving lessons and my instructor tried to grope me every single day. He used to take me to dark lanes to teach driving.
Initially i thought ‘its just in my head,’ but as the days passed by he started to be very obvious making me uncomfortable. One day when he tried to slip his fingers in my top, i held his hand and yelled at him and asked him not to do so.It took me a whole lot of courage to say anything to him.
This is when he got a bit aggressive and came on to me, uplifted my top and assaulted me.The only reason he stopped was because i screeched and made noise.
Next day i discussed this matter with my best friend and we decided to report against him in the driving school. The authorities were shocked and handed him over to the cops.
I really wish i would have reported him initially but it takes a lot of courage to do something like that specially when you know that people are gonna judge you too.
i’m happy that my best friend supported me in this decision and stood by my side.
My friends and I (a group of four 15 year old girls) were in the city (Perth, Australia) for literally 30 seconds before we saw a group of guys ahead leaning against pay phones staring at us and smiling in this malicious way. We got closer to them and they turned their heads to stare and smirk and made comments to each other. When they were behind us, I turned around and they were STILL staring!
The rest of the day went by without incident until we had to walk home from the train station at around 6pm. A car of men slowed down slightly as it passed us and a man said ‘heyyyyyyy’. As it drove away, i yelled ‘Yuck! Disgusting!’ loud enough for them to hear (it was a quiet street). I said to my friends ‘I hate that they do that’ and to my surprise one of my friends said ‘no, when I get a car I’m going to do that’. I was upset that she, who had only 30 seconds ago been harassed, would do this to other people. I tried to explain why it was wrong but she didn’t change her mind.
This happened today, I was walking in town to a cash point so I could get a bus home. Several men were sat outside a pub and started shouting at me to get my attention, when I ignored them they continued with “she’s fat anyway” “get to the gym love”.
Normally I can shrug these experiences off but this has gotten under my skin. My bus stop was near the pub and I didn’t want to go there because I was scared they would heckle me again. So I walked to the next bus stop because of these ignorant men.
The worst part is when I told my boyfriend about it, I pretended what they said was sexual comments so I still seemed desirable instead of “fat”.
I felt embarrassed and powerless, I knew if I responded it would have turned into a public slang match and I would have lost all dignity. The worse thing is my boyfriend said “it’s pack mentality”. Is being a man really an excuse for offensive behavior?