PUBLIC HARASSMENT: I WAS IN A HAUNTED HOUSE ATTRACTION
I was in a Haunted House attraction (you walk through the rooms while people jump out and try to scare you) with a large group of friends from work. At one point in the experience, they separated one member from the group and led that person into another room. I was pulled aside from my group and led into a room with two “actors”. They had masks and makeup on, going through their routine of setting a fantasy, scary scene. Then, one of the “actors” backed me into a wall and menacingly told me to take off my clothes. (I am 5′ tall and female) I laughed (I did pay to be scared) but he kept at it, leaning over and into me and I began to panic. (My instinct was that this was not part of the show.) Finally, they stopped and I was led back to my group, but I didn’t tell anyone what happened. I was terrified and shamed that I didn’t call them out for going too far. It made me feel sick and I was quite shaken. Luckily, another co-worker (a 6′ tall man) was also singled out from the group and taken into the same room. They said the same thing to him. Afterward, he came up to me and shared the story – knowing it had happened to me. He asked if I was okay, then he went to the manager of the Haunted House and reported the “actors” for going over the line. The manager was mortified and assured my co-worker that they had gone too far and that was not supposed to be part of the show. I’m grateful my co-worker recognized how it must have felt for me.
I know this is not street harassment (which I have also experienced) but I still feel sick thinking of it and so sad for how it ruined for me an outing with co-workers which everyone else enjoyed. I’ll never go back to such an attraction.
I want people to know that there is an inherent vulnerability in being a person of smaller stature and many seemingly harmless, “regular” actions can be felt as exceedingly threatening and induce a feeling of helplessness. In college, on more than one occasion, I have been lifted up by a stranger to get a laugh out of their friends. I shouldn’t have to feel afraid and powerless for being smaller and I shouldn’t have to feel ashamed for not being stronger.