I was feeling happy talking to my sister and laughing in the street waiting for my brother-in-law to get out of his car after he parked. He took a long time so our laughter was heard in the quiet streets of downtown Berkeley, CA. I was having a good time doing socially distanced contact with my sister who I haven’t seen for months.
Out of nowhere, this young man approached me closely without a mask and said in a curious voice, “What is so funny?” My sister and I both told him that it was nothing. He continued to get closer to me as he repeated his question. I walked away from him and he followed me every step and was two feet away from me. I felt hunted and harassed because he continued to invade my personal space even though it was quite obvious that I did not want to engage with him. I stopped walking after I was 15 feet away from my sister who had frozen. And, as I was walking away, I could feel his pursuit behind me and I felt I was being hunted.
Since my back was towards him, I turned to him and saw his no mask face. As I turned, I looked him into the eye and was determined to not be scared anymore. I told him “Nothing is funny.” in my serious tone of “Don’t mess with me.”
Luckily, he walked away because I don’t know what I would have done to defend myself. I had to survive on my animal survival instinct. I was lucky in that there were witnesses around me if he had done something. At that point of confrontation, I felt I was all alone and no one had my back except myself. My adrenaline was pumping and all I wanted to do was punch him if he tried to hurt me.
I truly believe that the only reason he was harassing me was because I was Asian. He had a belief that Asian woman are easy targets. Perhaps, his opening line when he hears laughter is to ask his stupid question “What is so funny?” so that he can start his harassment act. I am grateful that I am safe, but that incident caused me the next day to vomit and be dizzy all day. What I want people to know is that if you have been harassed in any way, please get professional help to release the toxic shame of feeling helpless or not being able to fight back. Although I was taught by my mother to not fight back when I was bullied in school, I am learning that her advice was not correct. I have to fight back as a way to regain my self-esteem. No one has the right to harass me. I was angry at what he did and he attempted to try to take away my pride in myself. I did nothing wrong by laughing and I felt embarrassed to admit that I blamed myself the next day for what happened because I drew attention to myself by laughing. Hell no!!!!!! Actually, he is the creep who doesn’t have the smarts to leave women alone. I have every right to laugh freely and laugh proudly with my sister.
I hope my story can shed light that although I didn’t get hurt physically, he left emotional scars and I am healing by telling my story. By sharing, I am committing to not being a quiet bystander if I see harassment. I may feel the fear, but that incident taught me that I can overcome my fear when I need to do what is right, which is to stand up to disrespectful men like him. Blessings to you all and may you be healthy in your body, mind and spirit!