I go to school in Seattle, Washington, US. I have always lived in Washington. For me, street harassment started when I was in high school.
I started riding public transportation when I was 17, because I was in a program at my high school where I could take college classes and receive credit for both high school and college. I couldn’t get a car so I had to ride the bus. Over my time in high school, I was followed off the bus by grown men and harassed by a bus driver and several passengers.
I am 21 now, I go to school in Seattle, and the harassment has only gotten worse. I have been followed down the street by a man screaming at me and calling me a bitch because I wouldn’t stop to talk to him. I’ve been groped, grabbed by the arm, cornered on the bus, catcalled, honked at and yelled at from cars, you name it. Men have tried to get up close and invade my personal space when I refuse to talk to them.
The time I was groped, I was waiting at my bus stop in the International District. A man came up to me and started introducing himself and trying to have a conversation with me. I can’t remember what I said to him, but I made my answers short and tried to brush him off. When I went to put my headphones on, he tried to reach down the front of my shirt. At first I was so shocked that I couldn’t think of what to do, but then I managed to yell “Don’t touch me!” Other people waiting at the stop looked my way, the guy got embarrassed and left.
I have gotten increasingly wary of strangers because of this and the fact that I am catcalled two or three times a week.
So what I have been doing now is holding my head high, walking with a strong, purposeful gait, and trying to appear intimidating (which is hard to do when you’re 5′ 2″). I thought maybe that would make me less of a target. I yell back and I give people the middle finger. So far it hasn’t changed anything.
Everyone spends all this time telling us we should watch what we wear, where we go, what time we go out, etc. I just want to live my life and not worry if the guy that groped me would have stopped if no one had been around to see. Or if something worse will happen.
I am so sick of taking their shit. I’m sick of these men that think they are entitled to treat me however they want. Men that think my body is public property. I just want to walk down the street in peace.
Location: Seattle, WA