The first time I was sexually assaulted I was 16 in the metro in Paris. It was summer so I was wearing a skirt. I was with a friend, I had already passed my ticket so I was waiting for my friend when I felt my skirt rising up, I looked behind and there was this man looking under my skirt. I was shocked, paralyzed, I screamed but felt unable to defend myself or hurt the guy. It was daylight, there were lots of people in the metro. No one. NO ONE said anything, not even came to comfort me or ask me if I was okay. I cried and did not want to go out anymore, I felt dirty. I accepted it, I said to myself that this guy was a drunkard and he didn’t do it to me in particular, but it could have happened to everyone. I now understand how this reasoning is wrong. What traumatized me again was when a night of May last year I was going back home by myself, it was 3 a.m. I had a bier and I felt completely safe. I was on the phone with my friend, we decided we would call each-other while going back home. I was about to cross the road when I felt someone right behind me. He threw me on the floor, grabbed my bag, and started punching me. He managed only to steal my phone. I considered myself lucky because I wasn’t raped. I still today undervalue what had happened, I say to everyone that I was lucky nothing more had happened. But this is so fucking wrong. Still, nowadays I never feel safe, nights trigger my anxiety. I always considered myself independent, I used to love traveling solo, being alone. But now I just feel unable. Sometimes when it’s nighttime I don’t even go out to grocery shopping. And I am so tired of this, sometimes I would just like to write to who attacked me and tell him how he made me feel, and how I am still feeling today. I am tired of hearing friends being catcalled or discriminated in any way. I am so tired of people not reacting when they see someone being attacked.
YESTERDAY I had just dropped my friends off to the cinema as we were running late and I went to park the car a 5 minute walk away. It was around 9pm and it was dark and cold outside. Where I had been in the car with the heating on, I had taken my coat and jacket off and so was wearing a flowy vest top with jeans and trainers. I got out the car like this to pay to park when two men walked past. Before they got to me one said “Put some clothes on”, I didn’t even look at them, I carried on at the pay machine, the same man then repeated “are you not cold?” I ignored them again. His mate then said “fine, ignore us then” and they carried on walking past me. I have such complicated thoughts on this encounter as if it was a women who past me and said that, I would have laughed and explained or said something funny back or at the least, acknowledge her. So why is it that because it was two males I felt scared, alerted and suddenly very naked. I still do not know whether that was an act of sexism or if I am the one being sexist. I live in a society where I am taught to be afraid of men when I am on my own at night, to hold my keys between my fingers and to not make eye contact or walk bit more ‘manly’. That is not acceptable behaviours, I should not be made to feel this way.
I was standing alone on the side of a quiet road in central London yesterday evening and checking my phone before crossing the street to head home. Completely out of nowhere a tall man shouted in my face and waved his hands right in front of my eyes. I had been engrossed in the message I had been reading and could not really hear much because of my headphones but when he screamed in my face I was really freaked out. An other very tall man this person was with then laughed and said that I had thought I was getting my phone stolen, the whole interaction angered and upset me so much that I swore at them both and stormed off humiliated. I left the street to stares from passers by and the laughter of the two grown men who had just accosted me. I cried my whole bus journey home, genuinely feeling like anyone could come in to my personal space at any time without my consent.
At a stand-up comedy gig in Shepherd’s Bush. I was the only woman in the room and was relentlessly picked on by the comedians, who would not stop telling me how “gorgeous” I was. One asked whether I was dating the male friend I had come to support, when told no my friend was advised to simply “keep trying”. Another said to the whole room that I was “a woman worth dying over, or at least spraining a wrist over” and received thunderous laughter from the audience. I left feeling utterly humiliated. Was I supposed to find that funny?
I was getting the bus on my own last night (around 7pm) to my running club. During the journey I noticed a man looking at me and sort of smiling. I thought nothing of it. When I got up to leave I walked down the bus and past him and as I did he reached out and tried to grab my arm and said something along the lines of “have a lovely week”. I mumbled thanks and got off the bus. It’s not the worst thing that could have happened and he probably didn’t mean any harm but it just annoys me that people don’t seem to think about the consequences of their actions. Staring at a woman who is alone on a bus and then trying to grab her arm when she gets off is going to make her feel uncomfortable at best or downright scared at worst. It’s just not needed and I found it creepy. Although it shouldn’t matter what I was wearing I’ll just add that I was wearing full-length black running leggings, a long t-shirt and a running jacket. Hair was scraped back and make up minimal.
Recently I was walking to the tube from a friend’s house in the late evening, alone. As I approached a bus shelter I saw there were two men sitting there drinking cans of beer. As I passed they both made comments, “hey sexy lady”, “where are you going?”. I normally just walk on and ignore this sort of thing but it made me so angry that they felt they had the right to comment on me, that without really thinking I looked back at them, looked them up and down and told them to fuck off in the most condescending tone I could muster. They immediately both jumped up and started shouting at me. I carried on walking. They continued to shout at me “hey, I’ll fuck you in your pussy, bitch” and threatened to follow me. I carried on walking, really worried that they were going to follow me, and shortly afterwards crossed the road so I had an excuse to look behind me to check they weren’t following me. I’m proud that I actually said something back and challenged their behaviour, but I spent the whole journey home angry at myself for escalating the situation. And so I’m also angry at myself for being angry at myself – they had no right to harass me in the first place so why should I even have to be worrying about how I reacted and what might have happened as a result?
In art last year, a boy in my class started lifting my skirt up. I told him to stop. He ignored me and continued. I asked him again and he still carried on doing it. After me telling him “stop” twice more he briefly touched my bum. His friends were laughing. I (stupidly) left the room crying as I felt so powerless and was unable to stop it. Now he always makes jokes about it, calling it “sexual attractions” and saying he “tripped”. I’m now really stressed out and paranoid about it happening again, never mind him joking about it constantly. I feel like an idiot for crying.
I am a university student working weekends at a night club in a city, so I am no stranger to harassment. However, one night in particular saw two consecutive incidents that made me feel genuinely worthless. First of all (not that it matters) I was covered from head to toe in black clothing, the only skin visible was my head in which I had a pair of large dark headphones. To say I was not provocatively dressed is an understatement. At about 2am I began was walking towards my bus stop when a man walked towards me, grabbed me, lifted me off my feet and proceeded to bring me over to a group of his friends. He told me he loved me and that I was the most beautiful thing he had seen. Not only did I feel out of control I just felt generally powerless and unsafe. I did not find it as funny and jovial as he or his friends did and once he had put me down he tried to reason with me and shake my hand. As I reached forward with me hand he attempted to pull me in for a hug and subsequent kiss. About 10 minutes later as I stood waiting for the bus another man similarly about 15-10 years older came over to me and asked for a lighter. I responded politely that no I couldn’t help him, all the while leaving my headphones on. This man was evidently intoxicated and stood inches from my face. He showed no regard for my disinterest in talking to him and he stayed for a long time questioning me. He asked me from what part of the country I was from and acted surprised when I told him because he ‘didn’t think there were good looking girls’ from where I was from. During these two incidents not one person batted an eye or intercepted. I mean, what was I to expect as a female teenager walking the streets late at night on my own? I understand that a lot worse has happened to young women but I think that over years of feeling objectified and having these things happen completely out of my control scared me greatly.