“I loudly informed him that I do not go to the supermarket to be harassed”

April 28, 2011

Hello. I’ve experienced street harrassment alot. I’ve been grabbed in a bar, grabbed in the street and followed to my door step. I get stared at and approached by men almost on a daily basis, and it’s no exaggeration. You would think that somewhere as lovely as Oxford that you would escape it. It’s not true. It’s happened to me more in three years living here than my whole life in South East London.

The worst time was in November. I just fractured my wrist a few days before and I had just sung in a concert and was feeling really proud of myself for doing the solo with a cast on! I decided to walk home at about 11 pm, just down the road.

A man walked towards me, so fast. He was short, and wearing a hat. He walked into me and grabbed me invbetween my legs. I automatically pushed him away but that was all I could remember. He carried on walking as if nothing had happened. I stood and watched him walk away. I was frozen, violated, my pride knocked out of me.

I ran home and called my boyfriend. My mother asked me why I didn’t hit him. I was afraid he might have been carrying a knife. I didn’t report it to the police. I don’t know why. I was just frozen and I didn’t want to be touched by anyone.

I tried to get in touch with my local MP after experiencing daily harrassment, shouting, being approached, and worst of all being followed. He never got in touch with me. The police said that all I can do is call them when I feel threatened. I feel like they wont take it seriously.

I was in Tesco the other day and this disgusting slimey man came up to me and winked and me and tried to talk to me – i had been running. I embarrased the hell out of him- I loudly informed him that I do not go to the supermarket to be harassed by disgusting men. A women behind me whispered ‘what a douche’, but no one did anything to see if I was okay. They never do.

I fear that if I carry pepper spray I will be the one arrested. I spoke to my local community police who said they would call me about this and send me information about protecting myself, but nothing has arrived.

I’m furious for every person that this happens to. I’m furious with the disgusting scum of the earth who think it’s okay. I’m furious that I’m scared of going out and it’s normal for me to be harassed. and I’m scared because part of me has accepted that something much worse will happen eventually.

I’m also sick of being accused of being a feminist or a sexist for being passionate about this ending. The reality is that mens attitudes towards women needs to change. When I spoke to the police officer the first thing he actually said ‘theres a big problem round here with different ethnic groups disrespecting women’. I don’t know what to think about a police officer saying this. I am certainly against any discrimination and I think racism is absolutely disgusting. I’m not really sure how relevant it is.

– Anonymous

Location: Cowley Road, Oxford, United Kingdom

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Find suggestions for what YOU can do about this human rights issue.

“He tried to kiss me, and drag me off [my bike]”

April 7, 2011

I was riding my bike to the chip shop early last Saturday night. I rode by a pub on the way (one that I would ordinarily avoid but that it would add a mile to the journey to avoid) when a group of skinny (very drunk) white boys started walking fast beside me. I went to speed up, but one stepped in front of my bike, pulling me off and grabbing my arm. He tried to kiss me, and drag me off. I struck back at him, making a fist and connecting with his shoulder, surprising him into letting me go. I would like to think I hurt him. I sped off while his friends attempted to catch me.

My husband called the police, they came and took my statement, promising to lock him up to ‘put the fear of God in him’ if they caught him. I was not dressed provocatively; wearing a t-shirt and long running shorts. I should not be afraid to ride my bike outside. I am harassed several times a week, but this was the most violent occasion. The male police officer who came round to interview me said that more girls should fight back, like I did. I find it interesting however, that when I give a lecture at a university, or deliver a reading, I am called a woman. When people see me, I am referred to a ‘a girl’. This is tansgental and part of me is flattered, but interesting to note.

– Anonymous

Location: Swindon, Wiltshire, United Kingdom

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“The only thing they ‘respected’ was if I was the property of another man”

April 5, 2011

Riding a city bus in Rome, I was rubbed against from behind by a man.

As with many other people this has happened to, I thought he needed more room, so I moved forward. He moved with me. This went on until I was right behind the driver.

Then I’d had more than enough. When he pressed against me again, I turned to face him & said loudly & very sternly, “Move it or lose it!!” I was a bit taller than him, so I was right in his face, scowling.

I don’t know if he understood English or just the threatening tone, but he moved away & left me alone. I was disgusted that he’d touched me like that, but proud that I made him back away.

Other times riding the bus (I was there as a college student / tourist for 2 weeks) I was approached & bothered by men and even teenage boys. I found the only thing they “respected” was if I was the property of another man… I bought & wore a cheap “wedding” ring for most of my trip. I didn’t feel too good about it – esp. since they weren’t respecting me but some fictional non-present male – but at least they left me alone with no work on my part.

– MKEgal

Location: Rome, Italy

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Blog post leads to arrest of subway groper

April 5, 2011

Sharing our stories helps us feel better, makes us feel less alone, raises awareness about street harassment, and sometimes can lead to concrete action.

The Washington Post recently reported that police arrested a man who was inappropriately touching women on trains after one woman posted an account on the blog Unstuck DC Metro. She said the man stood behind her, rubbing against her twice.

Via The WaPo:

“The man took the yellow line from L-Enfant to Pentagon and rode the last car… An undercover Metro police officer who read the account decided to pursue the tip.

The woman’s detailed description of the man including his glasses and watch helped officers catch him engaging in the same behavior. The man was arrested Wednesday and charged with assault and battery.

Transit police are asking any other victims to call them at 301-955-5000.”

A lot of the harassment that happens in public places is legal, but actions like groping, rubbing against someone sexually, flashing, and public masturbation are illegal. If you have the time and energy, consider reporting such acts, especially since these people tend to be repeat offenders, just as the man in this incident was.

“One of them reached out with both hands and clamped them onto my breasts”

April 3, 2011

I was out running in clapham, London one day. Not one for Lycra, I was in a baggy t-shirt and my rugby shorts, pink in the face and sweating away. Nobody could say I was asking for attention but attention I got when I encountered a gang of young men who blocked my path and refused to let me past. I had my headphones in and couldn’t hear their words but their expressions spoke volumes. I could see they were posturing for each other. I was merely annoyed until one of them reached out with both hands and clamped them onto my breasts. I had to actually grab his wrists and yank his hands off to break free.

I would never have considered myself a timid person but in this case I turned on my heel and sprinted back to where I came from. It was the middle of a sunny Saturday in an area of posh housing. The only way to avoid an incident like this appears to be to lock yourself away and that is completely unacceptable. I am a structural engineer who works with mainly men but none of my male friends would object to something being done about this. My dad has offered to buy me a cattleprod.

– Anonymous

Location: Clapham, London

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Find suggestions for what YOU can do about this human rights issue.

“I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been harassed”

April 1, 2011

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been harassed and not just on the streets either. In the workplace, on buses and trains, and in shops and bars too. I’ll list some of those incidents I remember best.

The earliest I can remember is a trucker shouting something about my breasts as I was walking home aged 16. I was really upset about it and kept going. Thinking about it now, I looked younger than my actual age at the time so as far as he knew he was harassing a child.

On a long bus journey a man sat next to me while I was gazing out of the window very much in my own thoughts. I felt something on the side of my leg and assumed it was a bug or something. I scratched and thought nothing more about it, until a few minutes later when it happened again and I realised it was this man who was doing it. I pulled my leg away in surprise but this guy had picked the wrong woman to harass. I had my umbrella on my lap which had a hard plastic handle with a metal piece sticking out of the top of it for a long lost wrist strap. I tightened my grip on the umbrella and waited. Sure enough a couple of minutes later he did it again and I hit him hard on the back of his hand with the umbrella handle. I’ve never seen anyone move so fast. He raced to the front of the bus and got off at the next stop.

At work I persuaded a harassing colleague to desist too. He had a habit of putting his arm round me and one day I’d really had enough of it. I put my hand over his and dug my long nails into the back of his hand. To his credit he didn’t even wince outwardly but he never touched me again.

A man touched my breast as I sat on a bus. A man grabberd for my crotch as I was simply crossing a road in Manchester city centre.

When I was 18 I had a boss put his hand on my thigh when I was alone with him in his car, and one boss in particular harassed me constantly for several months when I was in my early 20s. Eventually when I got so upset that I turned on him verbally and got my coat to walk out he threatened to sack me if I did. I was forced to carry on but at least the harassment then stopped.

At a bar in the leafy Cheshire countryside I had a man come harass me while my then partner was in the toilets. He put his hand on my knee and I did the same trick again of digging my nails into the back of his hand before I lifted it and dropped it away from me.

Another bar incident was in a pub with incredibly loud music on. This guy started to talk to me but I couldn’t hear what he was saying and kept asking him to repeat it. He put his arm round me and I told him not to. He went away but, feeling upset about the incident, I went looking for him a few minutes later. By then he’d managed to persuade some poor blonde woman to let him paw her and he was sitting with her. I tried to tell him how his harassment had made me feel but he just started shouting obscenities at me. I snapped. I threw my fresh drink at him (what a waste of Martini) then realised an empty glass was no use to me so I threw that at him as well. Not to attack him, more a case of discarding it. Thankfully for both of us it didn’t break, but it must have hurt when it hit him. I then walked out and walked all the way home. I’m just grateful there were bouncers on the door as I suspect they may have stopped him following me.

One day I was getting the train to work at about 8/8.30am and a fresh train was setting off from within a double platform. It’s complicated to explain the set-up but basically the nearest part of the train was the end of it that was backed into the station. Most people naturally got on the rear carriage as that was nearest but, not liking crowds, I went for the second carriage. Just one other person got on with me, a man who was middle aged and creepily sweaty. He spent the whole journey to the next stop peering down the carriage to see if anyone else was on it with us, and I knew he was just trying to make sure it was safe to attack me. I formulated a plan for if he did. I was carrying a heavy book (complete works of Oscar Wilde I think) and I placed my hands under it so I could snap it shut quickly and then hit him with it. Thankfully my plan was never tested as the train was one that stopped at every station on the route and before this man had taken the resolution to make the attack we’d pulled in to the next station and lots of people were getting on. It was an incredibly frightening experience though, I genuinely thought I was going to have to defend myself from being raped.

Physical harassment seems to be less prevalent in the UK now, but the verbal still continues and it makes you very wary when someone says anything to you. I’ve got to the stage where I’ll sometimes give a guy hassle for even staring. Like when a man was walking up my local railway station road and looked back at these two young women who’d just gone past him. I said to him (in front of his partner and daughter who were with him) that “they’re only kids, you pervert”. I’ve done similar with men who’ve been staring at my legs or breasts too.

That doesn’t mean that I feel I’m invincible or that I don’t get scared on the streets sometimes. I think I just learned bolshiness and that I feel far better when I do stand up to these jerks than when I don’t. It’s still scary but at least I’ve not allowed myself to be silenced or to be put down. I don’t react every time but I do try to at least say something – usually loudly. They have far more to lose being called on their harassment than I do in making that call.

That’s not to say that everyone should do the same. We all have to decide for ourselves how we’re going to tackle each incident, and your own safety must always come first. I think what I’ve learned is that it’s best to have a plan. Plan what you’re going to do and to say in certain incidents. It really helps.

– Maat

Location: Northwest England

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“This was the first time I felt in a position where I could do something”

March 28, 2011

I’m a man, I have never been harassed so I don’t know how degrading it feels but I do know it is awful to watch. I have been brought up by a very feminist Mother and a Father who treated me to stand up for others. I saw a young girl in a club who was being chatted up by a guy who was obviously drunk and much older by at least ten years but it progresses to being rather sexually aggressive as she turned him down. He started to grope and pinch as she walked away pulling her back and so on. It was embarrassing to watch and made me feel sick with anger, this was the first time I felt in a position where I could do something, I walked over and said, ‘Thats enough.’

He seemed startled but instantly his attention switched away from the girl, which was fortunate. Unfortunately his attention turned to me. I am not big or strong and I received a good beating. But I have never felt better about myself and would do it again if I saw it.

– C W-M

Location: Southend Night Club.

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Find suggestions for what YOU can do about this human rights issue