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I walk every night. I carry my phone with me and listen to a book as I walk. I live in a nice area made up of residential homes, but even so I still am aware of my surroundings. Along the main road sometimes some people lean out their window and stare or or say something rude to me. Some people try to see how close they can get to me without pushing me off the road. But tonight I experienced something that was really odd.
I hear a car coming and I glance back. It’s a police car, the car slows and I think the man Is going to stop and talk to me. As I look back again he slows until he’s about ten feet behind me then sits there. He crawled along at me at me walking pace for about five minuets. He then proceeded to pull up to the stop sign in front of me and stare at me through his rear view. I crossed to the opposite side of the road not wanting to be near him. I stop and look for oncoming traffics to see if it is safe to cross. No one was coming. I cross to another street the whole time aware of his gaze on me.
When I’m just about getting out of his sight he pulls up and continues to follow me. After a few mins he drives down my street and out of view. I understand the police have a duty to watch people who might he showing suspicious conduct. But all I was doing was walking. And if he had a problem he should have spoken to me. If it had been anyone else in a normal car following me I would have called the cops. But what do you do when it’s the cop who’s the problem?
He knew he was making me uncomfortable and yet he continued. I kept checking over my shoulder the whole way home he made me so nervous. I shouldn’t have to feel that way from someone who’s there to protect me. My gut was telling me it was wrong.
A couple of years ago I was walking through my high school when someone, dressed in uniform I may add, grabbed my butt from behind. I was speechless and felt hurt and degraded. I looked back only to see the man who wasn’t even a student with a smirk on face, like he was proud of what he did or felt it was his right to do so. Ugh! Disgusting.
I was standing outside a restaurant with my family waiting for our car to be brought around by the valet. I’m 17 years old and was with my older brother, mom and dad. I had worn a brand new mini skirt and long sleeve t shirt to dinner and was so pleased with my outfit! A middle aged man walked by and leered “I love your outfit”. I was so disgusted and felt humiliated and helpless in front of my family. I told him to fuck off after he’d passed but wish I had done something bolder.
This incident happened on a train station. It was night time and I came from school. Typical day, crowded station and people pushing. I was lining up to slip in the card to the entrance when a man behind me just got too close. So close I could feel his crotch on my butt and his chest on my back. I looked at him but that didn’t stop him to push me in that manner. I was so scared and almost cried that time.
First incident, I was walking down the street. It was night time and just got out of school. I was wearing formal attire. Slacks and blouse. Nothing provocative when suddenly someone was saying “Miss, hi, i love you” I looked and saw a truck driving just a little behind me. I paced myself as they follow. “Miss, you’re so beautiful, I love you” that to me was scary. Then My boyfriend was just around the corner. He almost ran to the vehicle when he found out.
Myself and a female friend were walking home after playing basketball on a summer afternoon a couple years ago. We live in a “nice” town, that has very low crime rates, so we were shocked when this incident occurred.
Walking past the local high school, a truck drove by us, and a man shouted something at us as he went by. It didn’t really register because we couldn’t distinguish words, and the sidewalk was set back quite a ways from the street. We shrugged and continued on our way. 2 blocks later, we were standing on a street corner, waiting to cross a busy street. This same truck pulled up next to us, and the man proceeded to harass us. At first, I couldn’t hear him very well, and because I was naive, I actually thought he might be asking for directions. But I quickly realized that this was not his intent.
My friend and I were each carrying a basketball, and these were old, and just so happened to be black. The man started out asking, “Do you know how to handle those balls?” I was 14 at the time, and somewhat sheltered, so it took me a moment to realize what the asshole was implying. He kept going on and on, “Hey, can you show me how to handle those big black balls?” He continued on like this for about a minute.
He was smirking and laughing at us the whole time, as my friend and I cringed in shame. I wanted to flip him off so badly, but all I ended up doing was giving him a “talk to the hand”gesture.
The light finally changed, and my friend and I were eager to get away, so we raced out into the crosswalk. The asshole was turning left, and instead of waiting for us to cross the street, as the law requires, he chose to almost run us over while he leered at us one last time.
I was so angry, and still am, that this happened, and that we had no comeback or retaliation.
I walk my dog everyday and everyday I thank god that my dog is big and scary looking, because if I were alone or he wasn’t 50kg’s I’m sure my stories would be a lot worse.
I was walking my dog down the footpath on a busy main road, I get the usual hooks and woof whistles (I now actively avoid main roads because these make me uncomfortable) when i come to an intersection where i normally have to wait a while to to cross.
A car pulls up to the intersection containing two men, they wind down the drivers side window to look at me, one of the men says “I like your dog” I reply with a quick “thanks…” hoping that they’d pull away as the intersection was clear, the man doesn’t and he continues to say “but i like you more”. I am now too terrified to cross the road, as it would mean passing the car where i could potentially be grabbed and dragged into, two men vs a 45kg girl is a losing battle.
cars were piling up behind they wouldnt drive away.
I stand there and stare at them until they realise im not going to come across the road and they drive off.
I don’t go on main roads anymore, I unfortunately have many more stories of being verbally abused in public streets but this is one of my more recent.
I was on the TARC bus on my way home from class at UofL. A man sat across from me and began to hit on a woman who had been there since before he got on. She eventually got off the bus, and my stop was also coming up. When I got up to leave, the man stood up and came up very close behind me (he was a good foot or so taller than I am) and started breathing down onto the top of my head. When I tried to move away from him, he shouted, “Damn, you’ve got some big-ass legs!” I didn’t turn around because the bus driver hadn’t done anything so far and I doubted I’d be assisted if I tried to defend myself verbally and he retaliated physically. The man turned back to another man who had been sitting behind us and said, “Aren’t they some big-ass legs?” The other man grunted in agreement. The men had gotten on at different stops and hadn’t interacted until this point, so I’d have to say this was my first experience with two men who didn’t know each other working together to harass and humiliate me.
I don’t have a car and it gets too cold for me to ride my bike in the winter in Louisville, so the TARC is often my only option. I wish I could say this type of interaction is rare, but really I get harassed the majority of the time I take the bus. I also get harassed on my bike (most recently by a father taking his kids out of church– charming), so there’s no entirely comfortable way for me to get to school.
I wish I had just one story that I could share, perhaps ten years ago I would have had just one. Now that I am in my 20’s I have hundreds of them. I have had guys call me every name in the book from beautiful to hey your lips would look good on me. I’ve had strangers grope me and demean me in front of on lookers who do nothing. I’ve been at work and had to tolerate comments from contractors all while being told if I say anything it’ll be my job not theirs all while maintaining a professional front. It’s really hard to be professional when a guy whom is 10+ years older than your own father looks you square in the eye and tells you “You look good enough to eat” or “those legs look good now but would look better around me”. My skin crawls and my stomach churns. All I can think to myself is how can men say these things when in all reality they would kill a motherf*ker for saying THE SAME EXACT THING to their Mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, best friends, grandmothers.
P.S the picture I uploaded is my best friend whenever i go out! Every girl needs one!
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.