Groper in a Build-A-Bear Workshop

Birmingham City Centre
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I remember about two years ago, I was 13 and in town with a friend. We went into a Build-A-Bear Workshop so she could get a present for her friend. We were looking at the sounds you could put into your bear when a man walked past us. My friend turned to me and said, “That man just squeezed my butt.”

I couldn’t believe what i was hearing, i was so shocked. In the end we just blew it over and thought nothing of it. We then went into Adidas. We went upstairs and split up to look around for a bit. I went back down and i found her and she said it happened again!

I went back up with her because i wanted to see who this guy was. We couldn’t find him so we headed back down. As we were going down the stairs, she’s like, “that’s him.”

I looked over and he was staring at us. We headed out of the shop and i looked back and he was watching us walk away. We quickly headed into primark, to the back of the shop to lose him. We watched the door and saw him walk in. It was easy to spot him as we was wearing all black and had dark skin. He headed straight up the escalators to the next floor and it was then that i realized he must have been following us the whole day. He was carrying a SuperDrug bag. We had gone into that store after it had first happened.

We ran straight out of the shop and on the next bus home. We just took it as a joke at the time and laughed it over. She took it so well and at the time we were both shocked but neither her nor i seemed bothered.

But at the same time, i was so angry at her at the time for not saying anything to the guy, or anything at all just letting him get away with it, but now i’m angry at myself because i know i should of said something or done something, so i’m partly to blame.

This angers me a lot now because we where so young at the time and it’s just disgusting. In the past I have been a victim of disgusting comment or behaviour from both boys my age and older men, and i’m only 15! It really upsets me that this kind of behavior still happens! Why should i have to feel unsafe going out, having to watch out everywhere i go?

– Hannah

Location: Birmingham City Centre, England

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3 Responses to Groper in a Build-A-Bear Workshop

  1. Sue says:

    Hannah, you were not to blame and neither was your friend, let’s get that clarified. No-one is ever responsible for being harassed. The guilt belongs solely to the harasser and I hope you can accept this and forgive both yourself and your friend for ever thinking you did anything wrong.

    I’m sorry you had such a frightening experience. You seem a really brave and intelligent young woman and I hope you keep hold of your courage to keep going out and claiming the streets for yourself and other women and girls.

    It’s always hard to react instantly to such an attack. The attacker knows he’s gonna do it, you don’t until it happens. If you can gain the courage to do this it can be really effective – decide on a few words to say if someone attacks you again. It needs to be short and sharp – ‘get off you pervert’ or ‘don’t touch me’, something like that – and say it as loudly as you can. One thing men like this rely on is that women are usually too shocked to make a fuss so if you do so they’re pretty likely to run off.

    Good luck, Hannah, I really admire you. Don’t let the harassers stop you from living your life.

  2. Sue says:

    Your reaction to this guy might not have been the one you’d have preferred to make now you’ve had the chance to think things through, but the fact is that under pressure you verified the attacker’s identity and you escaped from him safely. It may not feel as heroic as standing up to him but it worked. You were only 13 years old and had had a nasty shock so I hope you can give yourself credit for dealing with the situation as well as you did.

  3. Erik K. says:

    As someone who has taught a number of workshops to girls on assertiveness, I can tell you that your reaction was completely “normal”.

    As we grow up, we are all taught that we live in a civilized society and that everyone follows certain rules of behavior. Therefore, you had no way of knowing how to handle an adult who purposely breaks the rules of society.

    You were dealing with a Predatory Stalker. Someone who had a pre-determined plan to “break the rules” and take advantage of girls. He most likely had prior experience.

    As you grow older it is important to understand that when someone is “breaking social rules” in an effort to victimize you, you are at a huge disadvantage if you continue to adhere to social rules.

    What that means is, if in the future, if someone gropes or grabs you, or someone you know, don’t worry about social etiquette ,just “scream bloody murder!”

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