PUBLIC HARASSMENT: I WAS 14 YEARS OLD WHEN I LEFT MY HOUSE
I was 14 years old when I left my house just to say hello to a couple of friends of mine who had come for dinner in the pizzeria right in front where I used to live with my family. While I was having a fun conversation with my friends I left the door open and I recall a stranger, no older than 25/28 years, entering the hallway and starting a call with the most fashionable model of cell phone available at those times. I gave no importance to that and I kept talking with my friends. After they left, I went back inside and the guy stopped the call and followed me inside the elevator. As I pushed the button to go upstairs, I realized that he had started masturbating in front of me. I had never seen a naked man nor an erection before. Immediately I felt terrified and petrified, but somehow my instinct made me scream loud for help. That was enough to scare him and make him run away and never come back. After all this story, I told myself from the very first second, got a happy ending because the guy left right away so while I was going back on the elevator I told myself I didn’t need to tell it to my parents because after all…the only thing he had done was to put his hand on my shoulder. No physical harm, no robbery, no assault. Nothing. Just an erection.
But when I went back into the house, I saw my family unaware of what just happened and I couldn’t help but burst into tears. I was experiencing a strong sense of uneasiness, vulnerability and above all the unjustified but persisting feeling that somehow it was all my fault. It was because of my silly ingenuousness that I left a stranger enter inside our house, and why did I trust him? Because he was showing an expensive cell phone, but that was not equivalent to being a good person and even if I was young, I should have known this very well.
Today I am 33 years old and rationally I know that the blame is not on me, but I also know that this episode was not as insignificant as I hoped it was. It has marked a lot of my life: my approach to sex, my constant fear of walking down the street alone and even just choosing clothes to wear (that night I was wearing a miniskirt).
Thank you for reading my story and thank you for this beautiful project, I hope that sharing my story helps other people to actually stand up for a better world.