Layne’s Story: “I raised my middle finger right up at his grinning face”

I’m submitting this story here, for the widest distribution possible. It happened to me in Florence, Italy in early June 2012. With summer vacation upon us, many women from different countries will be visiting Italy and I want to warn them of the possibility of this sort of “attack.”

I was wearing a knee-length summer dress, walking with my husband past the Uffizi Gallery, towards the Piazza della Signoria. My husband was walking several steps ahead of me, when I felt hands run up the backs of my thighs and my skirt was lifted up to my waist. It was surreal. A crowd of people laughed as I whipped around to see who had done this. It was a young man with some sort of face paint. I don’t know if he was a “performance artist” attempting to amuse passers-by, or whatever. I did the first instinctive thing that came to me (for better or for worse) … I raised my middle finger right up at his grinning face and then strode away after my husband (who never saw this happen).

I got increasingly stressed out over this incident, remembered the feel of his hands dragging up my skirt – I felt so violated! It ruined the rest of our time in Florence, since I kept thinking I might run into him again, or someone else would try something.

So my warning to all women visiting Florence – wear pants, and be aware that there are some misguided souls out there trying to make a buck.