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I was coming back home from a friend’s house at around midnight. I always make sure to pause my iPod whenever I’m walking home by myself, so that I’m completely aware of my surroundings. I had even thought numerous times of what I would do if someone were to follow me home…but nothing prepared me to the reality of hearing foot steps and the fear of knowing that I was actually being followed.
I had seen him at a distance, walking drunkenly across the street, then turning right where I needed to turn. I lost sight of him, and thought “I’m almost home, just this one block…” but then there he was.
He sees me. He crosses the street towards me. My hoodie is up, and I’m wearing the biggest sweatpants I own. I’m thinking, “This guy cant even possibly make up my shape or features in this…”
I’m barely breathing at this point, completely aware that he is following me, I follow my “planned” protocol. I turn and look at him square in the eye, pulling down my hoodie with confidence and giving him a clear “What the hell are you doing?” look.
I turn back and walk faster…I’m almost home…
He is still following me. He starts demanding for my phone. I say I don’t have one, but I’m gripping it tightly in my pocket, just in case I have to hit him in the head with it. He keeps yelling at me and I panic. I start running. HE RUNS AFTER ME! At this point I’m completely terrified.
Then he cuts me off right in front of the stairs leading to my door, keeping me from going in and yells at me “Give me your phone!”
I see the light is on inside my house and yell “HELP!”. My boyfriend and sister come out almost immediately, and the guy starts threatening my boyfriend. I find a way around this guy and run up the stairs as my boyfriend kicks the guy square in the chest and runs back up to see if I’m alright.
I don’t know if the guy just walked away after that, cause I went in to call the cops and wouldn’t dare look out the window. A police report was filed, even though they said ‘this was probably just some crazy guy, following a pretty girl’ story.
Unfortunately/Fortunately, I am 1,000 times more aware of how men on the street look at me now. In the past week after the incident, I have been followed once, and harassed on the bus/street daily. While I could have responded with more courage before this incident, now I feel (I hate* to admit it) but I feel vulnerable.
I found your website in search of answers on how to deal with this. But just writing what happened helps!
So over the years I must have hundreds of stories of sexual harassment, catcalling, stalking ect. However I only have one story that truly haunts me, probably because it’s the most disgusting I’ve ever experienced.
When I was in 6th grade, my friend and I went to the library to do a school project. We didn’t have to do it at the library but I guess we just enjoyed the thrill of feeling old and cool being somewhere without our parents. Anyways, my friend and I were wondering around the library browsing through the shelves and giggling when we see an boy much older than us (I’m assuming he was 19-20..we were only like 12) We noticed him following us but brushed it off, thinking we were imagining it. However when we kept seeing him all over, we both started getting panicky. At one point he was right next to us, mouthing sexual comments. We still were in shock and had no idea what to do. We told the librarian but she was totally clueless and brushed it off. After seeing us go to the librarian, he backed off, which gave us time to run back up to the chidren’s section and call my mother. She called us when she was outside but we were too petrified to come outside (we’d have to walk down two fights of stairs alone.) Seconds later, she came running up. We explained what had happened and she calmly escorted us out of the building. Once we get outside.. who do we see? The creep from earlier. What shocked me the most was how it didn’t even phase him my mother was with us. He continued to stare us down and then he lifted up his baggy shirt and exposed himself. I believe his penis was out the whole time but had managed to concealed it. This guy honestly exposed himself to two 12 year olds and a parent right in front of a public library! Absolutely disgusted and petrified my mother called the police and we filed a report. We never heard of anything happening with the creep and the police didn’t seem to think there was anything they could do since it was “he said she said”, so he got off the hook. Needless to say, I never returned to that library. I still wonder if I was the only girl that happened to..
This happened a while ago (in 2005). At that time I lived next to the university campus which was rather a safe place. That evening on my way home from the nearby grocery store, I was carrying a heavy bag of groceries and another bag of papers and books from school. I was walking along in my own muse when I saw a guy in mid-20s on his bike coming towards me. I didn’t think twice about it. But then as he got closer I found him staring at me. As he passed me by, he yelled, “Too bad you are not white.” I have been catcalled many times before and since then on three different continents. But I am always caught by surprise and disgusted by it. This time though, I was just too perplexed by the comment to even figure out the meaning right away.
Later when I told my roommate and a couple of white friends about it, they said it was perhaps meant as a compliment on my good looks. Right, an unsolicited “compliment” on my appearance while putting my skin color down.
The night before Memorial Day, I was walking to the bar to meet my brother for some celebratory drinks. I walk past these two guys, one of whom sizes me up and starts saying really vulgar things like “you’re looking juicy tonight”. I walk past but then thought of hollaback and felt like I needed to call this guy out on his behavior.
So I turn around, walk up to him, and say, “What did you just say to me?”. He’s like “I’m just letting you know that I like what I see”. I went off and told him that he should not talk to me like that. That he should not talk to anyone like that. His face turned and he immediately started saying “you better walk the fuck away, you stupid bitch”. I called him out further and repeated that he couldn’t talk to people like that, and would he want someone talking to his mother or sister like that? He went on with his tirade of insults, calling me “A fat cunt”, where I retorted that he really needed to look in the mirror before he calls anyone that. He went on saying homophobic stuff, telling me that I was a fat dyke, that I was stupid cunt…etc etc” I finally just walked away and told him to go fuck himself. He shouted at me “Go eat some pussy you fucking cunt”. I shouted back that “That’s more than you’re going to be doing tonight, asshole!”
I was shaking with anger at the end. I’ve never met someone who turned into something that ugly so quickly. I guess he wasn’t expecting me to both call him out and publicly humiliate him like I did. I only wish I got a picture of his face.
Anyway, in conclusion, I know I shouldn’t have stooped to insulting him back, but it felt so good to call him out instead of kicking myself later on for not having said something.
This happened to my best friend, not me, but I have submitted personal stories here before. I was on the phone with my friend when this happened. We are both fourteen.
She lives in a fairly suburban community. She was walking down to street to go to the neighborhood’s annual festival a few days ago, and happened to be talking to me on her cell-phone. I heard this happen. She is a bit heavier than me, but very beautiful, dresses well, and wears makeup far better than I.
As she was walking, a car full of four guys in their early twenties screamed at her “FAT BITCH!” and drove away laughing.
This is not acceptable at all.
It’s disgusting that a fourteen year old girl who’s already self-conscious can have this happen to her in a seemingly “friendly” area.
I was on my way to visit my boyfriend and stopped at a grocery store to pick us up some drinks as a surprise. It was warm out and I was feeling really good about myself that day. I was wearing a knee-length sundress with a denim vest over it and sandals with small heels.
As I was getting back into my car, a guy in an SUV pulled up behind me and called, “Excuse me, how much do you charge?” Furious, I ignored him and continued loading my things into my car. He persisted, calling, “Ma’am?”
I spun around, looked him in the eye, and yelled, “More than you could afford!” He looked sheepish and mumbled, “Oh…” before driving away.
It made me so furious. I was having such a nice day and was in a good mood and feeling good about myself, and in one fell swoop, some misogynist jerk decides to make me feel trashy? Where do people get off being so disrespectful? I’m glad I at least got a chance to put him in his place.
yesterday i had to go to a 5 pm class, which really irritated me to no end,i just wasnt feeling very good with myself. to get to my school i have to walk like 7 minutes after i get off the bus, so i was walking on the sidewalk and i had my ipod on, because really is an off day when i dont get honked at or called at, its just freaking annoying and it makes me very angry. So im walking and 3 guys are walking towards me and i was in hurry so i was walking fast and after i walk by them one of them makes a hand movement as if he was going to touch me (but he didnt), all i could do was to raise my hand to stop his as i said asshole under my breath, one of the guys hears and laughs, which makes me mad, and it took everything in me to not turn around and yell like a maniac, so i continue walking and after i walked by a car wash where aproximately 4 guys were working they started to call me baby, mamacita and nasty stuff, i did hear them but really i had no energy to say anything(i usually turn around and start yelling at them or i tell them to fuck off or give them the finger or something, ANYTHING!) and when they didnt see any reaction from me they just yelled *you are fat* instantly my self steem was at the floor, i felt like crap, so much that i almost cried right then and there. After my class i walked to the bus stop and as im standing there waiting for it, a guy in a motorcycle passes by stares at me and i dont stare back and avert my eyes from his and when he passed right by my side he said *you are fat anyway* that day was awful i mean why do they think they have the right to say ANYTHING about a person’s body? and why do we let it affect us SO damn much?? why do we let men control us?
It’s 2:55pm and I’ve just gotten off the bus ready to get my son from school. I’m loaded down with shopping (board games in big, flat, colourful bags) and I’m clearly in a hurry.
I’m walking along in my typical “Leave me be” fashion – not making eye contact with anyone; keeping a fast, purposeful pace; trying to keep a look of determination on my face.
I pass a cook shop. There’s a guy in the doorway. “Good afternoon, Young Lady,” he says to me. Seems innocuous enough. For community’s sake, I reply “Hi” without slowing down. This was a mistake.
“Hey! Baby! Why so hurried! Get your ass back here, baby!”
I’m still processing this (In my mind, my cocky, confident persona is taking a bashing, “Does this guy know who he’s messing with?” I saying to myself in an Emergency Inner Pep Talk, “I’m going to ruin his ass come August”) as the guy immediately in front of me turns around to see what the first guy is yelling about. He stops right in front of me so suddenly I almost pile into the back of him.
Asshole #1 is still calling to me from his doorway. Asshole #2 decides to join in.
This is the first time in YEARS I’ve experienced a moment of panic; there’s no escape route. Major road to one side, buildings to my other. Harassing Guy #1 is behind and this other asshole is right in front of me. Better yet, I’m frozen in the spot wondering what the hell to do while Guy #2 is reaching his hand out toward me.
“Get the fuck away” I mumble. I move the shopping to my other hand, so it forms a barrier between me and his hand and push past him. Everything I’ve learned about rape and sexual assault is scrolling, Terminator-style, through my mind. My first thought isn’t to hurt him to defend myself; my only thought is to escape.
Five yards ahead is a shop where I go sometimes with my son. I fumble my way in there and stand with my back against the wall. Not quite sure what to do now, I wait a couple of beats while the guy behind the counter asks me if I’m okay. I am, I tell him so. I look at my watch – it’s almost time for my son to get collected.
It’s only this thought that gets me moving again. The truth is, I could have stayed in the shop for an hour, but my son needs me to be at school.
I step out, both assholes have gone: it’s just another rainy day in Bristol and while their days are continuing uninterrupted, mine has been marred. That same old feeling of powerlessness is back again, the “What Ifs” are playing in my head as I get to school and wait for my son to come out. Suddenly I can’t wait to get home, to log on and to Hollaback. And now I’ve written out what happened, I’m already feeling calmer and safer.
I’m starting a Hollaback in Bristol in August; I like to think I know enough about street harassment to remain cool and unflustered. Goes to show, you can never really be prepared – all the responses I’ve drilled in my head came to nothing. Now I’m home, fear has turned to fury – I find I’m blaming myself: did I overreact? Should I have answered the first guy? Did I really need to use that bus-stop instead of the next? Was I “asking for it” by reciprocating? Was my aggression really warranted?
The truth is, in that moment I was trapped between two guys who were giving me obviously unwanted advances: one was shouting for my attention, the other was making physical advances. I’m now feeling incredibly angry and more determined than ever to end this kind of culture that allows men to randomly surround a woman who clearly wasn’t interested in anything other than getting where she was going.
I’m more determined than ever to stop these assholes.
I don’t consider myself particularly hot or sexy. I am 15, 5’9″, and a size eleven. I am not curvaceous, at least not compared to some girls at my school. But still, I get holla’d at. During school. The first time it happened I was walking through the quad during break, and suddenly I hear “How you doin’ gurrrl, you lookin’ fine to-day!” I look up, confused, only to see a large boy, (He was probably 18, but can someone who has the nerve to holla at a girl publicly be called a man?). He stared right back, leering. I didn’t know what to do. At the time I was 14, I had never received this kind of attention. I responded, “I’m fine, and you?” and quickly walked past him. I was shocked. Not only had it happened in the center of the quad, surrounded by people, I was wearing sweatpants, a loose t shirt and no makeup. I couldn’t understand why he had singled me out. I was definitely not “looking’ fine to-day”. Nothing like that happened that year, and I eventually forgot about it.
Then only a week ago, I was called into the office during class to clear an absence. As I was about to open the door of the main building, I hear “How you doin’ guuurrrl?” through the glass. I see a group of about five boys, all seniors I believe, standing just inside the door. If I had been farther away I would have turned around, but I didn’t want to show that they had any power over me. I entered the building to a chorus of how-you-doin’s. Like before, I responded “I’m fine, and you?” Again I was dumbfounded. Why had they chosen me? I entered the building, and turned down the hallway. Unfortunately I was wearing a team t shirt for lacrosse, and it had my name on the back. They started down the hallway after me, now saying “How you doin’ Maureen?.” Although they stopped after a few steps, their voices followed me down the hallway. I was so afraid, probably unreasonably so. I entered the office, and cleared my absence. I didn’t say anything about the boys. I was hesitant to go back out into the hall, and when I finally did, they were gone. But just to be sure, I took the long way back to my classroom. Now everyday I see them sitting in front of the lunchroom as I go to buy lunch, and I pray they don’t remember my face.
Last month, on a Friday after work I decided to go for a run, it was a cool evening and it was starting to rain, which quickly turned to sleet and then light snow. I was less than a 1/4 mile into my run when I heard yelling — my iPod was between songs, otherwise I might have missed the specifics of it. There was a guy (I am assuming high school age) leaning out the window of a car on the other side of the street who screamed out, “Nice ass………WHORE!!!!!!!!!” I have to be honest, it wasn’t just the words that upset me, it was also how he said it — there was anger in his tone, and it felt threatening.
I tried to shake it off as just a bunch of immature kids with poor judgment and kept running.
Maybe a mile later I was on Beacon St in Cambridge when the same car drove by me again with this guy again hanging out the window screaming at me — I had my iPod cranked up so I don’t know what he said but the tone was, again, unmistakably angry & threatening. I was freaked out that this was the 2nd time they’d driven by me, and I was getting into less residential neighborhoods where there were fewer people on the streets — I had visions of the next time they drove past me, what if they pulled over? got out of the car? pulled me into the car?? I decided to listen to my gut, cut my run short, and turn around & head back for more populated streets & home.
Unfortunately I was not wearing my glasses & did not get the license plate #. I am getting over this but had an anxiety dream about it Friday night that involved me being cornered by a large man and calling for help that never came. I remain disturbed by the fact that at some point in their lives, the boys/men in that car learned that harassing & threatening a woman in this way is somehow ok.