The most important safety tip we can ever give you is this: harassment is never your fault. It’s not your responsibility to have the “perfect response,” it’s their responsibility not to harass you.
The media would have you believe that today is all about traffic jams and long lines at airports. But we’ve been listening to you since 2005 — and we know it can get much, much worse. We’ve heard stories of men masturbating under coats right next to your seat on a plane, racist tirades in airports. Believe it or not, our executive director was even groped on a bus by a man who shoved his hand between the seats to fondle her.
While traveling and navigating one of the busiest travel seasons of the year, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Trust your instincts. If something, or someone, doesn’t feel right — don’t ignore it. It’s ok to say “no” to people. It’s ok to switch seats. It’s ok to report people to bus drivers or flight attendants. Don’t make the mistake of telling yourself that you’re “being rude” or “over-reacting.” Just trust yourself, and from that place of trust, decide if you want to respond in the moment in some way, or not.
- Reclaim your space (optional). If harassment happens, here are three options for ways to respond. First, you can directly tell them to stop, i.e. “I don’t want to talk right now, I prefer to be alone.”Second, you can tell someone in authority, or tell a bunch of people at once, “That man in the red shirt won’t stop following me.” And lastly, you can document the situation. Write down what happened or film it so you can report it later. Remember it’s OK to skip this step.
- Remember you’re Awesome (very, very mandatory). Developing a sense of resilience — including remembering that you are an amazing, talented, beautiful, smart individual — is key to moving past harassment. Try talking to friends or family about what happened, sharing your story with ihollaback.org, or going for a walk to get some fresh air. It may sound corny, but making a list about five things that are awesome about you — and five things that are awesome about your life — is a powerful antidote to harassment.
Whatever you do, try to avoid the instinct to just push it down and pretend like nothing happened. It can be an OK strategy to get you through the weekend — but long term it always comes back to out, often times in ways you don’t expect.
Always remember that you’re awesome, valuable, important and we are grateful that you exist.
If you’re one of those humans who doesn’t directly experience harassment on your way home for Thanksgiving — pay it forward by donating so that we can get these resources out to more people who do experience harassment. Thank you for being an amazing human.
With love, Hollaback!