Olivia’s Story: “I wish I felt safe…”
My boyfriend and I just moved to Wichita, KS from a small town in New England so that I can earn my graduate degree. The street harassment that I’ve experienced since moving is completely unreal, and continues to boggle my mind. The worst incident occurred this past Friday in a thrift store while we were furniture shopping. My boyfriend and I were at opposite ends of the store because we decided to look at clothing when I noticed a man following me. I was wearing a dress that stopped about an inch above the knee and that was slightly form-fitting because it’s very windy here and wearing flawy dresses without flashing everyone is difficult and annoying. Anyways, I noticed a creepy man following me through the women’s section of this particular store, so I decided to move closer to the mens section and look at blazers. I moved quickly, and thought I had left him behind until I looked behind me and saw him crouched behind me on the floor looking up my skirt. I felt disgusted, humiliated and shocked. Not knowing what else to do I ran across the store to tell my boyfriend what had happened. The man promptly left. I felt numb and hollow for the rest of the day. I wish I had said something to him, I wish I had screamed at him, I wish I’d alerted the clerk, but I did none of these things and I feel like a coward. I have always liked to think of myself as the sort of person that would fight back against street harassment, but I find myself ignoring my harasses or refusing to leave the house alone. Usually, if I am with my boyfriend I experience no issues, but I wish I felt safe walking my dog by myself, or running to the gas station down the street.