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A few weeks ago I was traveling through the Amtrak station in Sacramento, late at night and found myself in a scary situation.
The station and platforms are connected by covered walkways and tunnels which are very creepy after dark. When I got off the train the conductor made a point of recommending that I head immediately to the station rather than waiting on the platforms. She knew that there would be men loitering on the platforms and that it would be dangerous or uncomfortable to wait there.
It takes a few minutes to get to the station and once I was in the tunnels I ended up alone with one group of passengers almost out of sight ahead and another group lagging behind—and this is when the guys who were hanging around started following me. One man followed me on the bike and then circled around me, making comments, telling me to smile and come with him. “Where are you going?” “Talk to me.” “Smile for me.” As I walked quickly towards the station and tried to brush him off he kept riding circles around me while four of his friends walked behind us and laughed. I felt trapped by the five of them and didn’t see anyone around who could have helped me if I confronted them.
I was able to shake them off when more passengers from the train caught up with us and was relieved to get to the station. There, a second conductor was advising women traveling alone or with young kids to walk to the platform in a large group or ride with him to avoid trouble.
It amazes me to think that this is a well known problem that has not been dealt with!! I wrote to Amtrak asking for information on this TWO WEEKS AGO but have had no response
— so what do I do next?
This is my sad but true story.
Remember the recent rape cases in India? Or that little girl from Yemen (see link to video below)? Well, modern-day France is no better! When it is about street harassment and womens’s rights, we’re a third-world country in Prehistoric times (leave the Middle Ages alone, please, those were enlightened, underrated times). remember French women got the right to vote only AFTER the end of WWII. Sheesh… sad, but true.
Maybe i’m just like Alexander, the little boy who is having a “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”? I’m referring to the children’s book by Judith Viorst here. But I think not. It’s not about me, it’s about what has been done TO me for so many years now.
By the end of September 2013, the multiple assaults, by criminal or so-called “legal” ways, as well as every day street harassments, stalking and repeated rapes I have experienced as a single female living on her own in a French inner city (Montélimar, Drôme, France) will reach the point of 10 years.
I thereby wish this day, to end ALL of this once and for all before it really turns 10 years old. I’ve had more than enough! Last night I was stalked, harrassed and verbally assaulted three times by the same group of people, my poor and under-priviledged neighbors – they live in the building next to mine.
Included is a video I managed to record during the third assault. It is now online for the whole world to see on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/teabutterfly/9369559276/
Please note: My harassers have been of all races and classes and colors and shapes these past 10 years believe me, they really do come from all parts of society, whether high or low, White and non-White, literate or not, strangers or close members of my family.
I *do* plan to (or already have done it) file official complaints against people who repeatly assaulted, harrassed, stalked and raped me in the past. The worst rapist? I filed a complaint against him on June 25th 2013 (he raped me repeatedly during a whole year, back in 2009, i was 37 at the time, very vulnerable and depressed – when I filed the complaint last June, the (female) police officer, a “capitaine de police” supposedly specially trained for this, immediately asked me “why did it take you so long to come over the police station and tell us about it?” Well… What kind of a question is that, anyway???! Most victims of rape never, EVER file a complaint or even mention it to the people closest to them because of fear/shame/guilt, so why did it take me oh-so-long to file an official complaint, I really wonder, plus at the time the repeated rape was taking place, I called the police at least 2 times, but they never showed up, brushing the whole thing off, thinking it was a matter of lovers quarrelling, not a rape going on, of course i never made that 4th call to the police, what was the point?).
I may file one or two other complaints some time soon, including to ask that the police officers involved get punished by their hierarchy for their very bad job protecting me and other women in the area, but not before I have moved to some other (much bigger) city far, far away from here (I think I might even move to another continent by 2015, that’s my plan anyway, I’ve always dreamed to visit the Asias and the Americas, anyway).
My survival plan right now is: get a big, nasty-looking dog (might calm some people down and will help me go back to exercising and feel confident in the streets again), get a pepper spray just-in-case AND learn how to use it, never leave home without loaded mobile phone set on a video camera, talk to friends and family a lot, testify on my personal blog, social media and hollaback. And remember, always: I have the right to be alive and be who i am. I also take time to enjoy life, read and laugh a lot, spend times with loved ones, take good care of myself, body and soul, time to reflect, to think, to marvel at the wonders of the world and to simply relax – as the song goes: “they can’t take that away from me”.
In closing: don’t shut ever up, record it all, testify, and watch this bold 11 yrs old online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J7_TKgw1To
The included photo is a selfie I took today, right after writing this – i still look beautiful and happy despite it all, don’t I? It drives my harassers crazy, to see me smling! So here am I on this picture gazing back at you unapologetically, with my tranquil smile… enjoy, my friends, wherever you are.
I am visiting Santa Fe for a wedding. While my boyfriend and his friends were out at the bachelor party, I decided to take a walk to stretch my legs and explore the town square. I’m wearing a track jacket, unflattering shorts and dirty hair. I got some ice cream and picked up the local alt weekly. On the walk home, a car full of dudes pulled up beside me. It was very dark and I couldn’t see them. One yelled, “Yo, you have some sexy legs, what time do they open?” It startled me and made me mad, so I flipped them off. One yelled something about me sticking my middle finger in my ass. They rounded the corner of the block I was walking on, and one yelled, “When can I hit it?” as they disappeared.
I flashed back to a time when I was a young teenager and a harasser had circled the block while I was taking a walk. It really scared me, so I ran as far as I could, hoping I could beat them before they circled the block. They didn’t come back, but I went home alone and freaked out.
I just was about to walk down into the sky train station with a group of my girlfriends when a man on a bike went past us whistled and yelled damn girl and kept biking away.
I stopped at Walgreens before a dressy event, and I was in a short dress and high heels. Before I crossed half of the parking lot, someone leaned out of his parked car, honked the horn, and yelled “hey baby!” I glared at him and said “NO.” A few seconds later he repeated himself and I said “that is not okay” and continued in.
When I came out, he was still there, and yelled something like “how you doin?” At this point, I stopped and walked toward him (I know, I know–I was livid but shouldn’t have approached). I said “Don’t do that. It is not flattering for you to yell at me from across a parking lot when I’m walking by myself. It’s creepy.” Of course he had some lame excuse about thinking I was someone he knew, and said I was overreacting anyway.
I was walking to work and a man shouted, “hey, beautiful!” from across the street. I said “NO” without making eye contact. He tried again, this time with gorgeous. I said no again. “I’m just trying to say hi,” he said. “That’s not how you say hi,” I sternly replied. Thankfully, he kept walking.
After returning a car I used for work, I was walking home at 10pm through my usually safe urban-residential neighborhood. A car came speeding around the corner, and the guy driving (about 19 years old, with a bunch of other guys in the car) looks at me and yells out the window, “Fuck you, you fucking bitch!” I was just walking down the sidewalk in a running jacket and a long skirt. I don’t take this personally but hate that attacking women on their own on the sidewalk at night is his way to show off to his friends how high or callous he is.
A young man harassed my partner and I outside her office. He said, “I wish I was like you” to which I asked him to just go away and stop talking. I should have said I wish you were like me too so you would know why what you are doing is harassment and offensive.
I don’t have a car, so I ride my bike home from work everyday. On my way home I was stopped by a red light in the left hand turn lane, and some guy in a truck pulled up next to me in the straight lane. He looked over at me and says, “Hey, you’re pretty. What’s your name?”
I had NO idea who this guy was, so I waited a few seconds, eyes still on the light to see if it would turn green, and then hes says, “Hey-”
I look over at him, push my sunglasses down far enough so he can see my eyes, glare at him for a half second, then replace my sunglasses and resume looking at the light. He didn’t say another word.
Some dude I dont know followed me for 5 blocks… He was wearing sunglasses and was maybe 9 inches behind me the whole time . Another stranger came up to me and told me there was some guy watching me.. so it must have been obvious he was following me.