I love walking in cities, especially at night. But every time I come back from a friend’s place and it’s dark, I ask myself : Do I take the short way through the park or do I walk 5 more minutes to be in more crowded streets where I feel safer? I once got called a slut several times by a group of guys because I wouldn’t talk to them. There was no one else in the park except for an old man a few meters away. Usually, I still take the short way but the closer I get to the park, the more cautious I act. I always feel very angry to have to ask myself this question when a guy wouldn’t.
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.
Just the other night I was in a nightclub with a group of friends. There had been a few guys (strangers) that had come up behind me and some of the other girls and tried to dance with us, but we were able to move away or turn to block them out of our circle. There had also been guys that touched my butt as they walked by. Then later one guy came up behind me and tried to hold me and dance up against me. I pushed him back, but then he just came closer and pushed into me and tried to hold me again. One of my male friends physically pulled me away into another space and then the rest of my friends moved so that the guy was cut out of coming closer to us. I was pissed off but embarrassed that I couldn’t fend off the guy on my own so I didn’t really say anything. The next day when my friends and I were discussing how the night was someone said ‘there were a lot of creeps there’. I’m so sick of not being able to go out with my friends without being harassed by boys/ men. In another club when I was on holidays I sat down on my own inside because I had a stomach ache and there were no seats outside where my friends were getting some air. At least 3 different guys approached me trying to chat me up even though I don’t speak German and repeatedly said ‘no’ and ‘go away’. I ended up going outside so that I could stand with my friends even though I felt physically sick. In my home city I once went to a gay bar with my friends. When I got a taxi home with my male friend and asked him if he enjoyed the night he said that he did except for when he went to the bathroom on his own and 2 different men squeezed his butt. I said ‘That’s what it’s like for girls in every other club’. He was shocked. As a gay man he has never groped a girl in a club but my other friend who is straight just seemed uncomfortable that I was pointing out the behaviour from men that girls and women experience regularly (every night out).
So last year. in the night of the 7th to 8th of september 2017 I went home alone from going out. I really had to pee and went into this constuctionwork next to the street. It was about 4:30 am. When i was finished and turned around the corner of this blue container there he was. He grabbed me by my arms and pushed me against this container. I screamed and tried to push him away and hit him on his chest. He didn’t really seem to care about that but there were these dogs barking because a woman went out with them and as they turned around the corner he left. I was standing there, not really realising what just happend. The woman didn’t bother asking what happend or if I was ok. So i proceeded walking home. I was devastated. I called a friend and talked to him the whole way home. It was good to not be alone although he also asked me what I was wearing….. I think i really was traumatized by this experience. I didn’t want to be touched by anyone a long while after that. I couldn’t touch myself without thinking of him, although I don’t even really remember what he looked like. He was about 30 to 35 and had a dark three-day-beard. I did not report it to the police and I feel bad for that. Even when the chances that this guy would get caught are really small, I at least would have tried. I did not tell this story to a lot of people. I felt dirty after it. I could not whash him off. I don’t like how I still think of him. I don’t like how i have problems with physical contact. Expecially with men,… Because of this incident I became really aware of how I don’t stand a chance against most of men. Being with someone became really difficult. I just don’t know if I can trust him. Sometimes i feel disgusted by touch. I get goosebumbs and shivers when someone touches me or if I just think about beeing touched. In the end he didn’t even really grab my boobs or anything but the knowledge of what he intended to do is there. I don’t like these memories. And I don’t like how they start to fade away… This might have been the worst incident. I know it will not be my last one. And this one and the stuff that happend makes sex not easy. Physical contact is a difficult subject. Going out sometimes is troubling. I just want to be kind of normal.
My friend and I were walking back to our apartment after getting pizza and this man yelled “I want to see those tits” at my friend who has large breasts. I guess the most unfortunate thing is she failed to see the significance of it, which must mean it happens all too often
Molested by half-conscious friend. It was in Brighton, quite a long time ago. I was with an old cis male friend of mine. We had been at a party and we had agreed that I would be staying over at his on the sofa. Unfortunately for this story, he got incredibly wasted. I realised this on the way back to his. I wasn’t quite sure how out of it he was, he was still speaking, mildly, but it seemed that he was operating with basic motorised functions but not really himself for a number of hours. When we got to his house, he didn’t seem to have the keys. Later we found that his keys were in his pockets. Now I know to have checked them but he was still talking to me so I thought that he might have lost them on the way back or at the party. I can’t remember why but I also didn’t have money at the time either. This basically meant that we were on the street for a number of hours. I was quite unsure of what to do. I needed to look out for my friend, stay with them, until they were more themself. I waas holding his hand as we walked around near the lanes. It would have been seriously dangerous for him without my assistance. We were going to be on the streets for the rest of the night, morning, with basically nothing. I was worried about getting really cold. I used to get to know homemless people in Brighton quite a lot. In Brighton there is a lot more of a friendly atmosphere (than compared to, for example, central London which is where I moved to a few years later) and so it’s not uncommon for people to hang out with homeless people and talk to them there. I ended up spending time with a homeless person which at first was great. I thought company! & they offered me my and my friend a blanket. To my horror, whilst I was speaking to the homeless person, out of no-where my friend started to touch me inappropriately, the most sensitive, intimate and traumatised part of my body. Incredibly shocked by this, I moved away from him and within a few moments he had adjusted where he was at and he did it again. I don’t want to go into more detail about how horrible this felt. I said his name and told him to stop it not sure if he could hear me. Now, what was – amongst the obvious horrible ness of this – also disturbing was that I knew he was semi-conscious. He was reaching for the most sacred and intimate part of me when I hadn’t given any sign of consent in a semi-conscious state. Who the fuck was this? What’s going on?! Am I communicating with this persons subconscious?! Great. ‘Cause it’s freaky shit up in here and I do not know how to deal with molesting parts of people’s subconscious, at least at that specific point in time psychologically. Also – how did he know that’s where that part of me was? I mean, why wasn’t he going for my feet, or some part of me closer to him? It was very obviously direct and disturbing. What should I feel about this? Seriously…what the hell…my friend just molested me when he was semi conscious. Also! If he was in any way conscious, this was a friend of mine, I trusted him…I mean, he knows about my past about this stuff, I have told him about it to ask for support and help. Really quite angry. Really quite confused. Also simultaneously and still (rather ironically at this point) really concerned about his wellbeing. Also! How am I going to explain this to him the next day? I mean I have to… I have had so many uncomfortable conversations with people only out of necessity about such things. It’s pretty surreal and I really don’t mean in the dreamy sense. SO BASICALLY, I got up, moved us to the North Lanes – not really knowing how to process all this but knew I had to move as the homeless person started being creepy too and I was like BLAHHHH – I went just round the corner to the North Lanes. It was too early for people to be around much, but it felt safer and I found a great bench (outside the bagel store facing the on-foot path with loads of cafe and shops that were about to open) in the North Lanes which seemed like a good place whilst I meditated near. Someone from a cafe gave me a muffin for free but was also creepy – really spun me out and gave me a tiny glimpse (but obviously not a real representation as I am hugely privileged in various senses such as being white, I seem cisgender to others, having a home, usually having the option of a roof over my head from family and friends and so on) but a small idea of how dangerous is can be being female-bodied, vulnerable and on the street. I mean there were so many creeps and my friend sexually assaulted me when he was out of it. Really sucks. He was really sorry. I’m glad that he accepted it happened and was really sorry about it. It does help when people do that.
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?
I just moved to a new big city in Germany to start university about 8 hours from my home. So I didn’t really know anyone, luckily there are these “bar nights” in my student home which are fun and very welcoming. Later that night when the bar got empty a group of people decided they would go to some bars. I thought this sounded great so I joined them. We had a really good time exploring all these cool places and ended up at a spot with a fantastic view (we were about 4 girls, 5 guys). On the way back to the subway this one guy started making comments about my backside. Because I hate destroying a good mood I started ignoring it at the beginning, but when he just didn’t end this I thought I can’t let him talk in that way, while nobody was saying something, I think everyone knew he was a bit disrespectful but nobody stepped in. Him: ” Well, there is a small sign of the brand of your pants on your ass” Me: “Ok, don’t you have anything better to do than stare at it?” Him:” You have a really nice ass, most women are insecure about it, but I can assure you, yours is not to big.” Me:”Well, firstly did I say I need your opinion on my body and secondly did I mention I had any insecurities?” Him:” Since you don’t want to talk about it, I guess you have. Come on I mean it in a really friendsly way.” Me:”Can’t we just leave it there and talk about something else?” But the conversation just didn’t end. Everybody was just listening and listening. Usually I am a super easy going person, who doesn’t care much about people saying, critizising people or getting the mood down. But there I was feeling like I was maybe prude or intolerant. This really stuck in my mind. And while nothing had happend phisically, I started to get really annoyed about this and ask myself these couple of questions. -why did the guy just didn’t stop? We were talking for maybe 30 minutes about that. Eventhough I made breaks and made clear signs that it is just enough now. – Am I just overreacting? – Why is someone allowed to judge, to comment, to talk about my body? – why did nobody step in, eventhough I could tell by the way they looked they agreed on my view.
Sometimes my workplace requires me to turn up for work quite late in the evenings. I don’t have a car so I usually walk the short mile-ish journey to get there, and when I arrive I immediately wash my hands. Today a colleague commented on this, asking why I do this. I explained that I hold my keys between my knuckles when walking alone and I don’t like the metallic feeling/smell they leave on my hands. My (male) colleague was horrified that I felt the need to do this; further discussion with other colleagues led to several other women admitting they do similar things. One even kept a small aerosol deodorant in her handbag purely for protection.