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I’ve learned through several trial and error experiences that confronting my cat-calling harasser gets more positive results than when I used to flip the finger while internally exploding with anger/frustration. Every time I have confronted a cat-caller with, “Pardon/Excuse me? That makes me really uncomfortable.” I get powerfully constructive results. Unfortunately despite my confidence and new found strength from such instances, I was not prepared to deal with the verbal provocation and harassment I experienced tonight ONE block away from my home.
Tonight I went to pick up ginger beer from a corner store that my partner has happily given business to for over 5 years in our neighborhood. As I was skimming over the drinks in the refrigerated section, a man in his mid forties-fifties startled me by hovering up behind me and reciting his phone number into my ear. I had yet to respond before he went around to my other ear and recited again. Here is the dialogue that ensued:
I turned to him, “Excuse me?”
He recited his number again followed by, “I know you want to call and text me.”
I replied, “That makes me very uncomfortable.”
He walked up inches away from my face with a huge gold toothed grin, and recited the number again slowly, then, “Yeah?” He walked around behind one of my shoulders.
“Yes. I have a partner.”
“Oh well tell your partner to give me a call.” He recited again. And again. And again.
To be entirely honest, I never thought I would be paralyzed and feel what I experienced at this moment in a situation such as this. My entire body began to tremble noticeably, my adrenaline rushed through my entire body like water rapids, and I felt confused because I didn’t know what exactly to do. My safety felt in jeopardy, and he was provoking me. I felt like a fight was on the verge of breaking out.
“Oh, I know you like it.”
If you’ve never been to Brooklyn Sub, let me tell you it’s probably the size of your living room. The owners as well as workers know my partner, they know me, and were all present during this situation. 4 additional men were present. Not a single word was spoken by anyone except me, this harasser, and the harasser’s friend.
I tried to focus and write his number in my phone: (917) 582….
But then I mustered up the courage to take a photo. He turned around,
“OH, you want my picture, huh?”
“Yes, so I can report you.”
He then came over to my face again, even closer this time but his friend held him back by the shoulders trying to convince him to “Get outta there and leave.”
Unfortunately the picture came out blurry, doesn’t show his face and wouldn’t serve any purpose in identification so I cannot report him. The rest of this altercation is truly a blur itself; the harasser yelled at me a variety of insults/profanity as his friend dragged him out of the store and before exiting clarified, “We were just sayin ‘hi’.”
At this point I had clung to my composure for as long as I possibly could, walked up to the counter, offered up the beverages, and burst into tears. You know what angers me the most? I’m not sure why, but I was compelled to apologize. I told him, “I’m sorry.” And the owner, who KNOWS me and my partner, merely replied, “It’s okay.”
WRONG-harassment is NOT OKAY my old friend (we will no longer do business there again). I was afraid to walk home, for fear that they may have been waiting for me down the block-who knows! My partner was on the other side of Brooklyn commuting home from work. I tried calling him, my family members, and finally someone picked up. My partner told me to wait in the store but I just wanted to be in the safety of our home, so he talked to me until I safely returned.
I’m now looking for self defense courses. I want to familiarize myself with these types of confrontations and situations where violence or sexual assault are possible too so I don’t feel like I’m backed into a corner with no voice and no power. No human should have to experience any assault. I am beyond grateful for Hollaback! as a resource for education, inspiration, and creating a community where we can dialogue about our personal experiences with assault/harassment and support each other.
Last night a drunk man followed my boyfriend and I for several blocks. At first he came off harmless, asking about cross streets. He said he liked the way we walked, that we didn’t look like we were from around here. He switched from walking next to my boyfriend to walking next to me. He brushed against me. I told him to back off and to leave me alone. He told me it was fine, “He liked the view from behind more.” I told him to cross the street and to leave us alone. My boyfriend tugged me away.
After a nice evening at the ballet, I got off the Montrose L and purchased an umbrella for the walk home. Once on Graham, an SUV driving parallel to me was stopped for a red light. “Hey baby. You want a ride home? Come on… come over here.” (And then some indiscernible kissing/disgusting noises). I kept walking, and the umbrella was shielding them from even seeing my upper body. Once the light turned, I figured they drove on and that was the end of it. But no. The SUV was driving slowly and again, a man yelling things like “Come here baby, I’ll give you a ride home.”
I ducked into a restaurant, and they were SUPER nice and comforting, said I could stay as long as I needed to, and offered me anything I wanted. They commiserated about street harassment and sent the bartender’s friend to walk me the last two blocks home. Grateful for good people at Eastwick but also really fucking sick of enduring terrifying harassment on a regular basis.
As I was clearly upset and crying walking down the street I was approached by I man that said, “Hey come here sweetie, let me talk to you.”
“You’re looking nice tonight.”
On the Q train, saw a man, seated, clearly touching himself through his pants while looking nearby women up and down.
10/12/14. A man about 60 years old was standing talking to another man. It was around 11:30pm on my way home from work. Not a lot of people around. As I passed he said, “hey shawty, shawty, hey, hey! Why don’t you bring that shawty ass over here.” I said, “that’s gross” to him as I walked by. He walked towards me a little saying “I just like your ass.” I was terrified because I’m very small and he was huge. Thankfully he went back to his friend.
10/13/14. Walking near Times Square, I was talking to my mother on the phone about a serious family issue and some dude was planted on the sidewalk just yelling at women to smile. He got in my face and told me to smile about 3 times. I finally stopped turned and went over to him and told him “no I will not smile for you I don’t have to smile for you. Stop doing that.” He kept saying “Why are you mad at me?” and continued saying “smile.” I made a bit of a scene, people were looking at him. I was furious.
10/13/14. Walking near Times Square I hear a man yelling repeatedly “hey shawty shawty hey hey!” I’m very petite & knew he was addressing me. I ignored him. He sped up till he was literally inches behind me and just walked “with” me licking his lips eyeing me up and down. Thought he would rob me so I pulled my purse closer. He then sped up again right next to me continuing to eye me and lick his lips. Gave him a dirty look and sped up he continued behind me another block yelling shawty and laughing.