Bystander intervention

I was sitting next to a young woman (like me) on the bus. She had long, blonde braids. A guy got on the bus, sat in the seat in front of ours and turned around to stare. At first he just stared at her for a minute, but then he started to say “Hey gorgeous, I like your blonde hair. You’re beautiful.” I was so angry on her behalf. There were at least 15 people on the bus, it was around 2 in the afternoon and no-one said a thing. The woman looked uncomfortable. At first she said thanks, and then became silent when he got more explicit. Usually I’m scared of large guys when they’re aggressively harassing women, but I became too angry to care. I told him “Leave her alone and turn around, you’re making me uncomfortable.” He then said “I’m not bothering her.” “No,” I replied, “You’re bothering me.” He then asked if I was her girlfriend, and if she was a lesbian. “No, she’s a human being.” I think I half-yelled it. He stared at me for the longest time, until a guy on the bus distracted him and they spoke about football. When I got off, she thanked me – all I could think of was how awful it has been when I have been harassed and no-one stood up for me. Ever since then I’ve been more vocal when it’s safe to be.

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