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“I was really shaken up”

I’m a young lady like most ladies that like to walk alone at night when getting from A to B. I consider it a valuable part of my independence that I refuse to be scared out of. So one night, I was wearing a new outfit, feeling pretty confident and walking down to Swans to meet friends for a fun night out. This guy, wearing a long dark jacket, yells at me from across the street “Why do you always look so unhappy all the time! If I looked like THAT, I’d be so happy!” I felt angry, that he felt the need to insult my facial expression, because I wasn’t cheery enough for him, like I exist to look good for him and not carry any of my own emotions like any other human being- anyways, my instant reaction was “fuck off.” (which surprised me even a little bit, I didn’t yell it at him, it was more of a dismissive statement. I kept walking, thinking that it was over. But no, he became really aggressive- “WHAT did you say to me? Get back here!” and he started following me down Yates street. I walked faster and scanned the street, there were people around but nobody was noticing what was going on. I just kept walking, until he eventually lost interest and left me alone. When I got to Swans, I was really shaken up. I’d rather not admit it, but it really frightened me. I told the story to a friend of mine-he said I should feel bad for the guy and consider what his reason might be for doing something like that, a bad childhood or something. This made me really angry so I was like “No, I don’t feel bad for him at all. Its not my responsibility to empathize and create excuses- what he did to me is not okay.” Despite my friend trying to be helpful, it devalued my experience and turned the responsibility back on me. Then he said “aw, I wish I had been there walking with you, next time if you ever want to walk down together…” And although he meant well, I was still angry and said “That’s NOT the point! I don’t want a chaperone, I want to be able to safely walk on my own if I choose to.” Anyhow..I just had a lot of anger that night, and wasn’t myself. Completely wrecked my night, and I wish that I had called the police on him while it was happening. We can’t let this happen to other people out there- this is not okay! I don’t want to create ways to ‘adapt’ to this and be street-smart, putting it all on women to change, but I do think we need to come together and develop a real solid resource of available strategies for responding to these moments while they happen to us. I feel like in the past when I’ve just ignored crass comments, it made me feel really crappy and disempowered, so I’d like to say something back, but apparently ‘f off’ does not work so great, at at least not in this one scenario.

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6+

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I still have nightmares

I am a mid-40’s longtime transgender female and have had many horrible instances of harassment, assault, and stalking. One in particular was very disturbing: in October 2013 I was harassed, assaulted and groped at a bus stop in broad daylight by three twenty-somethings. At first they thought I was a cisgender female and were ogling me and making lewd remarks that I chose to ignore. I positioned myself so that the bus shelter was between me and them. I was looking in my purse for bus change when one came over and made a lewd comment about my ass. I told him to leave me alone and he then realized I was transgender, at which point their “macho sensibilities” kicked in and they began hurling transphobic insults at me. Next thing I knew, one had his arm around my neck and was groping my breasts, and another tries to pull down my capri pants saying “what the f— you got in there DUDE”. They were all laughing and continuing with transphobic sexual remarks while I screamed and tried to fight them off. An old lady across the street yelled and of course they all took off up Discovery yelling transphobic and sexual profanities and laughing. I then flagged down a Saanich cop car and gave a report to them. The two cops were younger fellows and didn’t seem to take me seriously, despite my obvious state of physical and psychological distress. The two cops even looked at each other and rolled their eyes, and after taking my statement just got in their car and drove away. They didn’t even ask if I needed medical or psychological help… they just went on their merry way! I called the Saanich police department the next day for follow up and THEY HAD NO RECORD OF IT!!!!! SANNICH POLICE ARE INSENSITIVE IDIOTS and just as guilty as those three creeps as far as I’m concerned….I still have nightmares about that event and am scared of groups of similar looking guys….

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37+

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He got increasingly aggressive

I was walking to Habit coffee shop today at about 8:30pm when I started getting harassed by a drunk guy. He was being really creepy and kept yelling comments about how I look and telling me that I should go hang out with him and all this shit. When I ignored him, he got increasingly aggressive. I told him to “fuck off” and he tried to turn it around by calling me a rich asshole who’s “too good to hang out with street people” and all this shit. He was being extremely verbally aggressive until the second I got inside the coffee shop. I’m pretty sure he kept yelling at me from outside actually. It made me feel really uncomfortable and unsafe. I am a young female-bodied person in a very vulnerable period of my life. This sucked.

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20+

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Groped on the Street

I was walking alone in broad daylight along Blanchard towards Yates when I noticed 3 men in about their mid-20s walking towards me. They were talking amongst themselves and laughing while watching me approach. This put me on alert. The guy closest to me started leering at me and, as he got closer, my crotch specifically. I became aware that his arm had stopped swinging with his gait and sure enough, as they walked past me he reached over to grab my pubic area. Sheer instinct made me swiftly bring my arm up, knocking his hand away. At the same time I jumped out of his reach. They laughed and kept walking. I felt grateful that something in me reacted in this automatic manner. At the same time, though, I felt disgusted at the audacity of this guy who felt entitled to grab at my body. I felt shaken and violated.

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25+

one comment
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I could feel it coming

I was walking home from downtown a few days ago and had a guy yell “Hey, baby!” at me as I walked by. I knew it was coming because I could see him looking at me in that way that makes you want to become temporarily invisible just so you can for once avoid the stupid comment you know is coming your way. I know it’s not being called a slut or necessarily something sexually explicit but the sentiment behind his words: that I am an object for his gaze, that I am ‘on show’ when I am in public (sorry for not staying in the kitchen where I belong…NOT! This moment brought to you by Borat) honestly made me want to deck the guy. I was wearing nice jeans and a black blazer with minimal makeup and my hair in a ponytail not exactly your typical “come hither” man catching outfit (not that clothing choice should take away your personhood or be taken an implied consent!). Then he yelled at me again when I had passed him and was a few meters up the street. I did absolutely nothing about it. I thought to myself well what’s the point? It’s not that big a deal. But I was absolutely furious. Furious that he felt compelled to objectify me for no goddamn reason. Furious that he called after me again when I didn’t respond the first time because what-I owe him my attention?! The fact that today women cannot walk down the street in public without being treated as though they and their bodies are public property for all to objectify makes me so furious. The fact that my immediate thoughts were: ignore it, keep walking, head held high, makes me think about the type of culture that would instill in any of its citizens the knee-jerk reaction to accept abuse of any sort. I want to say something next time. I want to say something that makes the guy think about the careless and ignorant way he has acted or better introduce him to how it feels to not be able to walk down the street with an expectation of dignity. If anyone has any suggestions of quick snappy comebacks I would love to hear them!

I've got your back!
10+

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I swerved to avoid them

I was walking up Yates street and swerved to avoid a group of guys. They seemed to be between the age of 30-40, and I got the impression they had been drinking because I could smell booze and they were talking really loudly. The guy closest to me whistled at me, and I glared at him. He then yelled out “spicy dyke!” once I had my back turned.

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22+

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Leave them alone

I was walking home from an appointment when a man started commenting on these two young women who I happened to be walking near. He was only about a foot behind them and said something like “Hey, I really like this!” while pointing at the backs of their skirts, and “You two don’t mind if I do this, right?” while very obviously staring at their bodies. I was really worried that he would try to physically assault them as he was very close to them. The two women said nothing, but began to walk faster. He tried to say something else and they stopped walking  started looking at their phones; it seemed very clear to me that they were trying to make him go away by ignoring him.

I could feel my heart racing because I knew I was going to say something. I said, “Hey, I don’t think they’re interested in talking to you”. He replied “Oohhh, I’m sorry” in a very serious tone. He seemed to suddenly be taking me seriously, even though he had ignored their obvious attempts to get him to leave them alone. He then proceeded to try and defend his actions and one of the women looked at me, smiled, and said quite loudly “Thank you”.

They stayed together and me and the guy kept going in the same direction. There were fewer shops open and I was looking for some safety in case I needed to duck in somewhere. Eventually he said, “I wasn’t trying to do anything”. I didn’t feel safe enough to challenge him but what I wanted to say was, “Dude, it doesn’t matter what you think your intentions were. Those two women were just walking down the street. NO ONE WANTS YOUR OPINION”. Instead I just said, “That’s cool”.

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17+

one comment
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Yelled at on the street

It was 10:30pm at night, and my friend was walking me to the #6 bus stop on Quadra in front of the First Metropolitan United church. We were standing on the stairs, and a car with a bunch of loud people drove up to the intersection. All of a sudden, my friend and I heard one of the people in the car yell “She wants to get fucked!”; I was quite enraged at the assumption. I shouted back at the top of my lungs “No, she does not!”, and the person replied with “I…I didn’t mean it literally, I mean.. uh”.

I admit the situation could have been handled better but there wasn’t much I could do in the sleep-deprived state I was in. I certainly hope they got the message. Judging by their reaction, I think it may have gotten across.

I've got your back!
39+

2 comments

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