I am angry
I was walking near Highbury Fields on the way to a friend’s apartment when a man began to follow me, shouting lewd comments. He sped up to catch up with me and invaded in my personal space, asking for my name and if I had a boyfriend and why I was ‘being such a b***h’ not responding to his aggressive advances. He followed me down the narrow side road leading to my friend’s apartment complex. I told him he was making me feel very uncomfortable and leave me alone, to no avail. A man working on his bike in the carpark witnessed this, and told him to stop, resulting in a shouting match between the two of them involving verbal threats of violence. Eventually, my harasser left, but both myself and the man who came to my defence were left shaken by the incident.
I reported the incident on 101, and the police scheduled an interview at my house for the next day. Although they were sympathetic during the interview and asked me to go over what happened in detail, the interview ended with ‘well, its not a criminal offence so there is nothing we can really do.’
This man made me feel unsafe, violated, and humiliated. He made me feel like an object whose feelings and opinions were utterly immaterial. He verbally threatened and insulted myself and another individual. And yet, as per the laws in this country, he is legally innocent of any wrongdoing.
I know there will be far, far worse stories on here than mine (which is, unsurprisingly, one of many similar incidents I’ve experienced in London), and I am not equating this experience in any way to a physical or sexual assault. I also understand the risks posed by introducing a law against street harassment – hyperbole, over-reporting, lack of adequate resource to investigate the widespread issue. But having been followed- chased, even-, verbally abused, and threatened by a complete stranger, I am still not a victim in the eyes of the law. I find this unacceptable. I do not feel traumatized by this incident, but I am very angry.