This story is 14 years old, but I never had anywhere to tell it before. I, like 99% of the world’s population, had been on the receiving end of street harassment ever since I was 11 years old, but these incidents occurred to me between the ages of 22 through 25.
I lived with my first serious boyfriend in an apartment off of Route 20 in East Greenbush, NY, but commuted across the Massachusetts border to my job in Pittsfield, MA…a 30 mile commute. Needless to say, I filled up at the gas station about 3 times per week at the station/convenience store right by my apartment complex on many mornings. There was also a bus stop right in front of this store and that is where my Harasser, Vic (I cannot believe I still remember this jerk’s name) found his opportunity to harass me.
I was young, slim, attractive enough so not surprised when men looked at me or shouted occasionally from their cars. I wore professional office attire – power suit or dress with jacket and heels. One morning, as I exited the store to return to my car, Vic was standing right by the door and he said softly, but loud enough for me to hear, “Oooh, those legs!” The way he said it was so gross it made me feel instantly sick to my stomach, like I could throw up. I got into my car without ever looking back at him, I wouldn’t even be able to describe him because I didn’t want to know who he was.
This continued EVERY single time I would go to the store in the mornings. Sometimes, I would see that Vic was getting on the bus before I reached the gas station so I learned that I could adjust my schedule by leaving home just 2 or 3 minutes later and he would be gone. If I saw him waiting on the bus and I needed gas or coffee I’d head to a different gas station just to avoid him leering at me, groaning at me, whispering his nasty comments at me. I hated Vic.
In 1997, my boyfriend & I moved to a different unit in our same apartment complex, then Vic figured out that he and I lived in the same complex! He took it upon himself to write me a letter and leave it on my car which was parked in front of my building! I cannot really remember the content of this letter other than the gist of it. “My name is Vic. I’ve been watching you for years. I want to take you out. Give me a chance. Blah, blah, blah… Please don’t run me over with your car.”
I find it interesting looking back on it now that he put in the line begging that I don’t run him over. He must have known that I didn’t like him or his advances. And I wished at the time I could have run him over, but then I would go to jail for vehicular homicide.
So I was totally freaked out that this guy knew where I lived. I remember expressing my fears to my boyfriend. Our relationship was slowly dying for many reasons, but his reaction to a strange man leering at his live in girlfriend and leaving notes on her car was this: “You can’t blame the guy for trying.” This man harassed me for nearly 3 years and that’s it? He’s just flirting with me?
This was just another one of our many disagreements so I decided to leave a few months later. I moved out in September of 97 and that was the end of dealing with Vic. I’ve never had another experience as creepy as him and I know he didn’t do anything “all that bad” on the scale of bad things. But if I had just had the courage to use my voice back then….I would have:
Yelled at him.
Told him he was a disgusting loser.
I would have reported his behavior to the store manager.
I would have reported his stalking behavior to the apartment complex managers.
I would have called police and at least filed a complaint on him.
I’m nearly 40 years old (about the age Vic was I’m estimating) and I don’t get those cat calls or harassment as I used to. But I swear, if I see it happening, I will speak up, I will Hollaback at all the Vics out there….”Stop it! She doesn’t want to hear about how much you want to touch her legs! You are spreading EVIL with your words and leering glances! Leave her alone!”