Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Fredericksburgh VA, Jacksonville NC, Los Angeles, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Palo Alto, Portland ME, Richmond VA, Rutgers University, San Francisco
New submission from S.L
I am nineteen years old and since hitting puberty I have always put up with men shouting at me on the street. It is something I have even become accustomed to, and when men have followed me home I have done little about it. I thought it was something that women have to put up with, and as a result I am naturally extremely cautious and paranoid when I walk anywhere alone. I will spend most of the journey looking out for any potential ‘harassers’. Quite often, when men have approached me they have been aggressive, threatening and have made me feel extremely uncomfortable.
However, when walking back from work yesterday I heard a man shouting my name. As usual, I ignored it and carried on walking however this man eventually caught up with me. He was on roller blades, and started trying to get my attention. I carried on walking with purpose thinking that as it was a main road with cars stuck in traffic and plenty of bystanders I would be okay.
However, the man became more and more aggressive and eventually blocked my way so I had no choice but to acknowledge him. I simply said hello, and that I was not interested in talking and that I just wanted to get home. The man refused to take no for an answer, and was becoming more and more aggressive and threatening, shouting at me that I ‘was not giving him a chance’. I eventually began to plead with him to leave me alone. I felt increasingly uncomfortable. Eventually I began to beg and he seemed to lay off and fall back as I carried on walking.
But, it was about 10 seconds later that the man came back behind me and grabbed me, touching my bum. I screamed ” Don’t f****ing touch me” and started shouting anything I could to get people’s attention. People were unwilling to help and one bystander even started to walk faster as he heard me shout. The assaulter, clearly realizing I was trying to attract attention tried to get away as fast as he could.
I immediately started crying. In that moment I felt so helpless, so vulnerable and dirty and disgusting. It was as if I could feel his hands on me, where he touched me again and again and I felt sickened. The fact that this man maliciously assaulted me because I pleaded to him to leave me alone makes me feel even more disgusted.
I have now realized that all types of street harassment are unacceptable and I wish I had been told that I did not have to put up with it, I can call the police and that this street harassment will be taken seriously. I am going to report this incident to the police, and do everything I can to prepare myself for this type of harassment again, but perhaps the worst thing for me is that at the age of only 19, I do not know if I will ever feel completely safe walking on streets alone.
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