Street Harassment in Portland, Oregon

I am 17 and live in Portland, Oregon, a supposedly liberal city, but the street harrassment is constant. On a weekly basis I deal with the prolonged, creepy stares of men who are obviously twice my age. This isn’t a 5 second look over, this is a fifteen minute intense, no blinking, staring right at my chest for a 15 minute bus ride kind of staring. Every couple of weeks a man will do something suggestive along with the creepy stare. They act surprised when I don’t like it! The city train is also a terrible place to be. At one point a group of four teenage boys had an animated discussion about my breasts while standing about two feet away from me. I asked them to stop and they laughed and continued.

This sort of attention really bothers me, but it’s not the worst thing. Last summer I had just gotten my driver license. I was at a local city library, somewhere I had always felt quite safe. I checked out my books, walked through the parking lot, got in my car, locked the door and was just about to leave when this stranger walked up to my car and knocked on my window. So I roll down my window a couple of centimeters so I could hear what he was trying to say. He told me he had seen me in the library and wanted to go out. Again, he was probably twice my age. I was obviously much younger. I said no, rolled up my window, and drove away very shaken.

Street harassment is always annoying and frequently scary. I try not to let it limit where I go and what I do but it does. There are certain places I will not walk alone, I always sit as close to the bus driver as I can, and I avoid trains completely. I don’t think the clothes one wears matter much, but I avoid wearing tight shirts or tank tops if I’m going somewhere alone because I feel more visible and vulnerable. I wear shoes I know I can run in. I see guys on the street and think about where I can go if the comments get unbearable. It’s exhausting to be anywhere in public long because I have to be hyper-aware to avoid what potentially dangerous situations.

– I.

Location: Portland, Oregon

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.

3 Responses to Street Harassment in Portland, Oregon

  1. Alan says:

    This is awful to have to take so much precaution and live a life weighed down by the possibility of harassment. I am sorry for this and hope this will change in your lifetime.

  2. Svitlana says:

    I would like to share my story. My name is Svitlana. Today on 09/15/09 I was walking on the road on my break time near to my workplace. I was talking to my husband over the phone, and suddenly turned around to go back to office. I saw a strange teenager walking straight toward to me; I stepped aside and finished talking to my husband. The stranger continued walking down to the house; I thought that might be his house. The stranger was wearing a white T- Shirt with a skeleton image and some written weird words. He turned around and started following me. I stopped near a car where was a man holding his baby trying to put her in a car seat. I was trying to protect myself, and stopped near them. The stranger stooped on my way and I shouted: What do you want from me? He wasn’t scared, however he left me. I don’t know what he wanted, I assume a watch or a cell phone, but anyway I was scared a little bit. But I believe that God protects me whenever I go, and He sees me no matter where I am.

  3. someone says:

    If you get harassed in or around the public library, it’s really important to report incidents like this to library staff members. People who behave like this are in violation of library behavior rules, and can be excluded from the premises for up to 3 years, depending on the problem behavior.

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