I’ve been experiencing typical forms of street harassment like catcalls etc. since I was a teen but in the last two weeks I have had multiple frightening and almost violent encounters. I live in New Orleans very close to Bourbon Street and work there but before you assume it is the location, I can honestly say I’ve lived here since August with few problems.
Last night was the worst. I chose to walk home from work on Bourbon St. specifically because it is busy and full of police officers. A man approached and attempted to make small talk as I walked. He was polite and non-threatening and I’m fairly friendly so I responded but kept walking. Then he suggested that we go some else. I explained that I had to go home. He suddenly grabbed my arm and attempted to pull me. I pushed him hard, cursing and yelling at him to never touch me again.
Out of nowhere this girl appears and lunged at me. I respond to violence with anger so I shoved her away from me. I’m guessing this couple worked as a team to either rob-or worse sexually assault-young women. It was like the female was waiting at the place the man stopped me at. Weird.
The worst part of the story is that a cop came into the scene. I immediately approached him and begged him to help me so that they wouldn’t follow me home.
His response, “Have you been drinking tonight?”
Stunned I say, “Yes, I’ve had a few I’m a dancer at a club. It’s part of my job. I’m just trying to get home.” He threatens to arrest ME for public drunkenness. I was not slurring my words or stumbling. Another man even stepped into vouch for me but the cop insisted that if I was still there when he got back I would be arrested.
A Good Samaritan luckily walked me home. My two attackers were standing a block away staring at me. I did report the incident to another police officer who was more understanding. I just couldn’t believe the first cop blew me off and treated me as the criminal. It is possible he thought it was a drunken fight between to women (if he hadn’t seen the man grab me). But still I spoke clearly and respectfully when I explained the situation.
I’ve had other less frightening versions of street harassment that also happened recently. One night my friend and I were walking and a group of guys started catcalling us. We ignored them. A few guys didn’t like our rejection so they followed us, closely, screaming obscenities. Her response was to ignore it because she feels they want a reaction. I don’t feel that I should ever have someone breathing down my neck. I told them “to back the F- off. We were not interested”. It worked, they stopped.
Another night a car full of guys began following me doing the whole catcalling routine. I wasn’t bothered until they drove the car in reverse to continue “talking” to me. They drove off finally and I went on my merry way to grab some food. On my way back those same guys passed again. They slowed down and followed me about half a block. As I tried to ignore them, and silently prayed that they aren’t going to abduct me, they ask, “Are we scaring you?”
Umm no how could it possibly be frightening to follow a single girl on a desolate street at night. Of course they knew it was frightening. Why ask if they didn’t.
I responded calmly, “No actually you aren’t scaring me. You’re annoying me. Please leave me alone now.” I looked them dead in the eye when I spoke.
I don’t understand how society considers letting men think it is ok to behave this way.
Thank you for this site.
– Megan Kelley
Location: New Orleans, LA