Melissa’s Story: “I’m having a hard time shaking it off”
I was walking downtown to my apartment — about a mile total. I was waiting at a crosswalk when a man came up right next to me and put his hand on my arm. He was very drunk and looking at me with a stare that put a chill down my spine. As soon as I could, I crossed the intersection. He kept up, walking directly to my side less than a foot away. I tried to shake him off, but he continued to follow me through the next couple of blocks, putting his hand on my arm at each crosswalk pause.
I finally went into a bank to shake him off. The three women tellers were as shaken as I was when I told them why I was there. When I couldn’t see him anymore, I went back to the street. On the next block, he jumped out at me from some bushes he had been hiding in. I walked faster, but he kept up. A maintenance man saw what was happening and stopped the guy, telling me to keep going.
That delay only worked for so long and the guy caught up with me. I called 911 and by the time I was under the underpass and across the bridge a police officer zoomed through the intersection and stopped right in front of us. As he was arresting the guy, two more police cars came up. I declined to press charges or declare myself a victim. He probably just needed to sober up.
It’s not like he hurt or threatened me, but I’m having a hard time shaking it off, given that the low level street harassment continues as it always does. Someday, I hope women and men can look back at street harassment as an unfortunate past problem.