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The stories below are recent encounters with street harassment from around the world. Click the “I’ve Got Your Back” button under each one to anonymously show your support.

 

Stalking, Story, Verbal

Elizabeth’s Story: “I started to freeze up and panic inside”

I live in a city, and I deal with street harassment on almost a daily basis, but I recently experienced a situation worse than usual. I was walking alone downtown around midnight on a Friday night. There were no other people around. I hear yelling from behind me, “I want to f*** the s*** out of your a**!” and other similarly sexually explicit/aggressive statements. I started to freeze up and panic inside, but refused to turn around and look. I followed my typical course of action (now a reflex out of practice): Refuse eye contact and keep walking until you are a safe distance away.
This didn’t work. The yelling grew gradually closer and louder. The voices became threatening: “You need to look at me when I’m talking to you!” and “You know you want this!” followed by more yelling of what they wanted to do to me.
I finally was able to see my harassers without turning around; it was several guys in a car. They left as I approached a less deserted/more populated intersection.
This can’t be explained away as a compliment, a joke, or drunken stupidity. I can’t be accused of dressing provocatively; I was simply a young woman walking alone.

I've got your back!
14+

Published on April 21, 2014 at 9:26 am

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Story, Verbal

Alex’s Story: Expected to smile

Another ended badly. I was headed home from work, engrossed in a Stieg Larson novel, with my hair down, and wearing office casual. An open seat next to me was taken by a man, I’d say in his late 20’s. With the noise of the train and the distraction of my book, I didn’t hear him and therefore didn’t acknowledge him.

A few stops later, he moves to another seat, which is common on public transit. While on that same stop, another passenger timidly asks me if she can sit next to me. Before I can give her my affirmation, I hear a loud and angry voice saying, “don’t sit next to her, she’s a bitch.”

Incensed, I turn my head to demand an explanation from the not-so-gentleman now sitting two rows back. He begins to berate me for not talking to him when he was only trying to get my attention, etc. etc. typical entitled mating bullcrap. I yell back at him, standing my ground, telling him that I did not owe him anything and that no one told him to intrude on my day. I’m basically trying to put him in his place and he’s telling me I look cute when I’m mad.

About 20 minutes and 10 stops of shouting later, another passenger tells us both to shut up, I take this opportunity and turn back to whatever the girl with the dragon tattoo happens to be doing.
3 stops of silence later, he comes to me, apologizes and I, like an idiot, forgive him because I just want him to leave and never think about the incident again. Thankfully, I’ve never seen him again but the event sticks with me to this day.

I've got your back!
8+

Published on April 20, 2014 at 2:46 am

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Story, Verbal

Chloe’s Story: “I didn’t want to say anything since I was so young”

I was in 7th grade when this happened. As I was walking through our local mall (the Galleria at Roseville), I kept hearing comments coming from obviously older men. Stuff like “daaaamn” and “work it” and whooping and hollering. OLDER GUYS “HITTING ON” a 7th grader.

I didn’t want to say anything since I was so young but I felt violated, which I shouldn’t have to feel as a 12/13 year old girl. I was wearing skinny jeans and a v neck Hollister shirt (with a cami underneath). Nothing to be hollering at. Then, once I’ve had enough, I went outside to be picked up by my parents and someone drove by and yelled “SLUT!” directly at me.

Honestly, what about me comes off as “slut”? (Nothing because no one is a slut) but like what the fuck? I’m obviously young, even though I’m well endowed, I don’t show them off (even if I did, it doesn’t warrant comments). Even though I still hear comments from the yard workers everyday, this day stood out to me: now I am a young woman and this is what happens to young women.
This is disgusting and wrong. Let’s stop it

I've got your back!
10+

Published on April 18, 2014 at 2:49 pm

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Story, transphobic, Verbal

Phez’s Story: No One is ‘Asking for It’

Last night I walked home from work in the sunshine in London, an 80 minute journey. I was wearing a bobbled grey woolen (but tight) dress and thick black tights.

The first man said “ooh lookin’ fiiine!”
The second two men said “BOOTAYY, man check out her bootie!”
The third man stared me up and down and kissed his teeth
The fourth man held up traffic at a junction and stared sideways at me not the road
The fifth and sixth men twisted their necks as they walked past and muttered whatever they wanted
The seventh group of men were having a beer outside in the pub I passed and stopped and said “woah check THAT out”
The 8th beeped his horn and laughed
The 9th, a group of three men in my neighbourhood said “ooooh you looking sexyyyyyyyyy” as i walked through the middle of them

By this point I turned around and shouted “are you JOKING??? That is the NINTH comment I’ve had in one journey…GET A GRIP”

They replied that I should be pleased and god blessed me.

I felt quite guilty for shouting when I got home and my friend told me that it’s just how they are and they probably thought they were complimenting me, and at least they find me attractive..

It’s not a compliment, I’m walking home (pretty covered up for a hot day), I’m not ‘giving them the eye’ or ‘asking for it’ (no one is ‘asking for it’) it is not acceptable.

Last week on a train I had to sit next to vile men ‘spotting’ “great tits” as ladies went past to the toilet or on-board shop.

When will we actively start teaching our sons that showing women respect has absolutely nothing to do with catcalling or objectifying them as sexual entities to be judged as they walk home from work, or go to a shop??

I've got your back!
18+

Published on April 17, 2014 at 9:34 am

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Story, transphobic, Verbal

Carly’s Story: “You deserve this”

The following is typical of my daily commute. I travel by metro and foot between Petworth and Takoma.

I’m footsteps away from work and passing the bus stop at the intersection of Carroll and Laurel. As I walk by I notice a man sitting on the bench and wearing sunglasses is making all kinds of hissing and sucking noises, but don’t realize it’s directed at me until he says “mad fine” as I pass by. Normally I’d ignore him or even smile, wanting to avoid any possibly dangerous conflict with a stranger, but today it caught me off guard.
I’m hunched over carrying a heavy backpack, wearing a dirty old hoodie with my hood pulled over my head. The only thing that could have possibly been sexy were my legs, fully covered in denim and visible only from the front when he had already started making a scene.
Baffled, I pull my hood off to reveal my fully shaved head and just shrug at him, thinking, “what are you even talking about?”
The entire time I’m still walking towards work and suddenly I hear him yelling from behind me, “Enjoy being a girl!” He says it as if it were a command.
I go into work and open shop, but it ate at me all day. It’s sad that a passing rude remark can send me spiraling into an anxiety attack, but it just got to me and I guess that’s the point. I was relieved it didn’t escalate further: I waited and watched him board the bus, having become suddenly neurotic he would follow me into work.I was distracted for the rest of the day, regardless, thinking of his words over and over.
“Enjoy being a girl!” ?
It could mean so many things. I think to him it simply meant “You deserve this”.

I've got your back!
15+

Published on April 17, 2014 at 6:33 am

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